Viking Legends owner hangs up his hornsThe restaurant that brought sports celebrities to Two Harbors has closed its doors after a little more than 14 months in business.
By: LaReesa Sandretsky, Lake County News Chronicle
The restaurant that brought sports celebrities to Two Harbors has closed its doors after a little more than 14 months in business.
Mark Pearson, a Two Harbors native, opened the business last June. Publicity and moral support were offered by his friend and former Vikings player Jim Marshall. The former gas station, completely renovated and decorated with sports memorabilia, now stands eerily empty and dark. The sports bar closed in the beginning of August.
“We had the perfect storm of bad luck...it was just too much to bear,” Pearson said.
Pearson, a lifelong entrepreneur and developer, has lived and worked all over the country and world. His mother brought him back to Two Harbors where he tried his hand at a sports bar.
“If I had opened it in a bigger town, it probably would have worked,” Pearson said. Instead, he said he wanted to create interest and opportunity in his hometown.
The small town economy wasn’t the only factor in Legends’ closure, Pearson said.
The lingering nationwide recession, the lack of snow and lack of tourists last winter, and dismal performances by Minnesota’s professional sports teams all contributed to a bad year for his business.
He got behind on bills this spring and went to the Two Harbors Development Fund in hopes of securing a low-interest loan; they refused. He had an outstanding loan with the Fund already from when he opened his business. Pearson also couldn’t keep up with his rent and other bills
After a sluggish winter and summer, Pearson made the decision to close.
“By the time it got to summer, every dime that was coming in the door was going right back out,” he said.
While he won’t miss the 80-hour work weeks, Pearson said he’s having trouble with the fact that his 15-20 employees are now out of work and his regulars don’t have their favorite place to watch a sports game with dinner and a beer.
“I’m going to miss my employees and customers most,” Pearson said, adding that he’d like to thank all the loyal regulars that supported his business.
He reminisced fondly about when about 20 famous sports figures came to Two Harbors for a fundraiser last August. They signed autographs and played in a golf tournament, raising money to provide scholarships so Two Harbors youth could play sports.
“Any kid that wants to play a sport should not be held back because of lack of income,” Pearson said.
Though Legends has closed, the fund raiser will take place again this fall at Grand Casino Hinckley. Pearson’s friend Marshall will participate again, along with a list of “grand legends.” Best of all, some of the money raised will still benefit Two Harbors youth who want to participate in sports.
Pearson hasn’t decided what’s next. He’ll look into more possibilities in the area. So far, he plans to stay in Two Harbors.
Rick Boo, part-owner of Carmody Irish Pub in Duluth, hopes to open a new food and drink establishment in the building, Read more in the City Council Roundup.