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Paynesville Press - October 31, 2001

Scheels retire after 50 years in business

By Linda Stelling

Gloria and Willie Scheel Willie and Gloria Scheel recently retired after running businesses in the Paynesville area for more than 50 years. In the last half century, they have owned a drive-in restaurant, a coffee shop, a gas station, a steakhouse, and a motel.

As a young man in 1945, Willie drove from his home in Rice to manage the roller rink in Paynesville.

In 1947, he moved to Paynesville and built a drive-in (shown below) along old Highway 55 (now Old Lake Road).

Scheel moved his drive-in to the intersection of Highways 55 and 23 when the route of Highway 55 was changed in 1949. He added a gas station and built three cabins to rent.

In 1953, Scheel moved his 24 by 24-foot building to its present site, purchasing a cow pasture from a farmer who could no longer use it conveniently because it was separated from his barnyard by the new highway.

Original Black Saucer In 1956, Scheel built a new structure, which housed the Black Saucer Steakhouse on the lower level and the drive-in on the main floor.

Willie married Gloria, a Paynesville native, in 1959. They lived in a basement structure for a year. In 1960, the Scheels finished building their home, which included the first of their motel rooms. Over the years, they kept adding on to the structure until it had 40 units.

A flood in 1972 forced them to close the steakhouse and the drive-in. They turned the building into a game room with pinball machines.

The Scheels closed their gas station in 1989 when bus service to Paynesville was halted. The station also served as a bus stop. "The MPCA said either upgrade or close, and we opted to close and concentrate more on the motel," Willie explained.

In 1999, they sold the Black Saucer Motel to Greg and Mark Regers of Prior Lake. The couple continued to manage the motel until Oct. 1, 2001, when they moved to their new home in their newest business venture WilGlo Acres, a residential development along the river. With their retirement, the coffee shop at the motel has also closed.

Besides his business ventures, Willie drove a Paynesville school bus for 17 years from 1955 to 1972. He has also driven the Paynesville royalty to area parades in his Cadillac convertibles since 1976.

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