Monday, January 17, 2022

Cheers to Jerry’s Mural

It only seems appropriate to offer cheers this week to all the folks who worked diligently behind the scenes to save an Owatonna icon.

In less than two weeks, a large mural was taken out of Jerry’s Restaurant in downtown Owatonna and hung at the Steele County History Center. By Friday morning, the Historical Society raised more than the $18,000 goal it had set to save the mural. Any additional money that comes in will be set aside for cleaning and restoring the large painting and adding an informational display kiosk, according to Kellen Hinrichsen, executive director of the Historical Society.

On Friday as I looked at the mural with Hinrichsen, he marveled at how everything came together in such a short period of time. He said he quickly became aware how much the mural meant to area residents.

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to interview Lynne Ostervich, one of the daughters of the original owners of Jerry’s. She, too, was amazed at how quickly things fell into place to save the mural.

Ostervich shared how she has many childhood memories of her parents, Jerry and Florence Cashman, operating the supper club, which several area residents told me became “the Cheers Bar of Owatonna” for more than a half century. “We had a lot of the same customers every week,” Ostervich confirmed.

“We ate food from there every night,” Ostervich recalled. “We would pick something off the menu,” she said, adding her father took great pride in producing fresh steaks and hamburgers.

Ostervich, who worked as a hostess at Jerry’s for a couple of summers during college, has been monitoring many of the comments that have been coming in on Facebook about Jerry’s since the effort to save the mural began just a few weeks ago. She has especially enjoyed reading all the names of former waitresses. “They were like second family to me,” she said.

Now retired, Ostervich lives in Wisconsin and hasn’t been back to Owatonna in several years. She plans to make a trip to the History Center to see the mural later this year. Judging from the photos she has already seen, Ostervich said, “It looks really nice at the History Center. They have done an excellent job.”

Ostervich admits her memory is a little fuzzy when it comes to certain details surrounding the mural and the iconic restaurant her father built before dying just five years later at age 45. But one thing that is clear to Ostervich is how much people love the mural.

Besides Ostervich, several people have commented how they have vivid memories of sitting at the restaurant and staring at the mural—what now will become a key piece of Owatonna’s history showcased even greater for years to come.

It’s remarkable to see how Steele County residents have gone in hot pursuit of extending cheers through the form of cash donations to save something that has become quite the community icon.


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