New owners

Barb Ferguson, Jeff Ferguson and Paula Hufnagle pose for a photo in The Jackpine Savage Grill in Littlefork. The Fergusons took over as owners of the restaurant in December.

LITTLEFORK – A local couple is settling in as the new owners of The Jackpine Savage Grill in Littlefork.

Jeff and Barb Ferguson in December took over as owners of the restaurant, and so far, have received a warm welcome.

“The community support is amazing,” Barb said.

Jeff agreed.

“We’ve received a lot of positive support,” he said. “They’re happy to see us here and we’re excited to be part of the community.”

Natives of Big Falls, the Fergusons have roots in the Littlefork community — both attended elementary and high school here.

“Our sons attend Littlefork-Big Falls School, too,” Barb said.

When previous Jackpine Savage Grill owners Jake and Heather Juen announced they would no longer keep the business open, Barb’s mother, Paula Hufnagle, suggested her daughter and son-in-law purchase it.

At first, the couple kind of laughed off the idea, but when Barb suggested the pair make a go at it, she said Jeff was surprisingly on board.

“He’s usually a ‘no’-man,” she said, with a laugh.

But Jeff said he knew his wife was looking to get out of the daycare business after 12 years, and with Hufnagle’s restaurant experience, he knew the opportunity had potential.

“It’s almost surreal how it all fell into place,” Jeff said. “It almost seemed like it took on its own life.”

Hufnagle owns the Blackbear Drive In in Northome, but it is closed during the winter months. In addition, she worked at The Jackpine Savage Grill for the Juens for five years.

“I knew what I was coming in to,” she said.

Biggest challenge

From October — the time the Fergusons decided to take on ownership of the restaurant — to Dec. 20, the biggest challenge was all the paperwork involved, Barb said.

The couple worked with the Entrepreneur Fund, which actively partners with entrepreneurs in northeast Minnesota to spark growth and achieve success. The company’s website said it accelerates business growth with business loans and flexible financing, fuels success with strategic support and helps promote a culture of entrepreneurship throughout the region.

“They were great to work with,” Barb said. “They want to see you succeed.”

The Fergusons are looking forward to the new opportunity and seeing customers.

“The best part so far has been seeing everyone,” Jeff said.

The Jackpine Savage features new menu items and has added homemade baked goods for sale. It is located at 314 Main St. in Littlefork and is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; and 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. To reach the restaurant, call its new number at 218-278-4889.

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