Savage has found new restaurant operators for its downtown historic depot, where two previous attempts to run a restaurant and coffeehouse have failed.

Sisters Carol Feldman Madson and Cindy Feldman Hurley have reached an agreement with the city to lease the building, which has been vacant since last summer. Unlike previous tenants, who operated a coffeehouse and limited-service restaurant, Madson and Hurley are planning a more extensive menu for breakfast and lunch service.

Under terms of the five-year lease, the Prior Lake residents would pay $1 a month for the first six months and $500 a month for the following six months. The rent would increase to $750 a month the second year and continue rising until it reaches $1,500 a month in the fifth year. The agreement also has an option to renew the lease after five years.

City documents say the rent would average out to $950 a month over the term of the lease, higher than the $804 a month approved a year ago for the previous tenant.

“We’ve been working on this for a long time, trying to get the right fit,” said Mayor Janet Williams in an interview before the City Council meeting. One priority for the city was finding tenants with extensive experience in the food-service business, she said.

Madson said the sisters’ interest in the restaurant business dates back to when they were teenagers with after-school jobs as waitresses at a Mr. Steak not far from the depot. Since then, both have had a variety of jobs owning and managing food-related businesses.

In the 1990s, Madson was a co-owner and operator of Bumper’s Restaurant and Sports Bar in Burnsville. Hurley currently operates Simply Great Foods, a catering business she started in 1998. Before that, Hurley operated Mrs. Feldman’s Fineries, a gourmet dessert business that had stores in Apple Valley and Minneapolis’ Uptown neighborhood.

“I’m more front-of-the-house while Cindy is more back-of-the-house. Our skills complement each other,” Madson said. Their desire to work together fueled their interest in the depot, she said.

Earlier this year, the City Council approved allocating $35,000 from its community investment fund for improvements such as an exhaust hood and fan needed for an establishment that would do extensive cooking. The funds, part of a $150,000 gift received last year from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, would be spent only if a tenant were secured.

Madson said she and her sister also will bring in some of their own equipment, like an oven and mixers for in-house baking. Other improvements will include new countertops and furnishings.

“We’re excited. It’s not work to us,” she said.

No firm date for reopening the restaurant has been set. The Minnesota Department of Health will need to approve the installation of the exhaust hood and fan, according to City Administrator Barry Stock.

The search for a new tenant at the depot has been a key part of a larger effort by Savage to rejuvenate its downtown. In recent months the city has stepped up efforts to market other vacant properties, including the Hamilton Building, where Savage Art Studios & Gallery closed at the end of last year.

The move into the depot by Madson and Hurley could prove to be well-timed. The most recent operator has said his business suffered due to last summer’s construction of Hwy. 13. Work on the highway near the depot has since been completed.