Choose Your Own Adventure
If Steve Wegman were to write about his life, he knows exactly the kind of book it would be.
“I remember reading those books in elementary school where the ending is different depending on what page you turn to,” he explains. “Like when you get to page 56 and it says, if you wanted to go in the hot air balloon go to page 86, if you want to go to on the boat turn to page 100? Remember those? My life honestly could have gone a bunch of different directions.”
As luck would have it, Wegman feels like he landed right where he was supposed to: Mankato,
“It’d be cool to go back and see if out of college if I would’ve gone on a different path then where would I have ended up. It would be interesting if when we all get to Heaven someday if they can show us how our different choices would have panned out…show us our best and worst lives. Because really, if one little thing had gone differently in my life, it would look drastically different today.”
Today, Wegman is a father of two and owner of five thriving enterprises: Weggy’s On Campus, the 507 Food Truck, The 507 (downtown), Krusty’s Donut Shop and most recently, The Wagon
Wheel. All, he says, seem like destiny.
“Mostly, I got to where I am today by just being at the right place at the right time. If we hadn’t got that phone call to do the catering at the AmericInn, which we only got because the couple getting married lived in Lake Crystal, so if we hadn’t done that then Weggy’s, which was in Lake Crystal at the time, probably would have gone bankrupt …and I’d be sweeping streets for the city…who’s to say? See, that’s what I mean, turn to page 88 for the ending,” he smiles.
In hindsight though, he couldn’t have written it any better. It is a plot with so many twists and turns.
Let’s start from the beginning of the story.
“My dad worked for Hubbard Milling in Mankato. Instead of being a Navy brat, I was like a feed salesman brat. We just moved around. We were in Sioux Falls. We lived in Mitchell. I went to Owatonna, then we ended up in Alexandria. I graduated in Alexandria then I went to Concordia College in Moorhead. My dad got transferred back to the home office in Mankato so after college I came back here. Surprisingly my first job out of college was working at MSU under Paul Allen in the Sports Information Office.
“I got the job and they called me and they said, ‘We got good news and bad news. You got the job, but we want to give it to another girl as well, so we want you to split it and split the money.’ I think my first job I made $3,200. The worse news is I had to take three credits with MSU to get the job. It was cool- I learned a lot from Paul- although I would move on into a whole new line of work.”
And by that, Wegman means he was hired to be a camp counselor in Wisconsin.
“I drive out there, and at the time I didn’t know it, but it turned out to be a Jewish summer camp which I didn’t have any inkling what that even meant. I became the head counselor and I stayed there for the summer, then after that, they offered me a full-time job. One morning I woke up and I lied and told them I got offered a job back in Mankato and I jumped in my car and I drove straight back. Got past the Wisconsin border, pulled over, kissed the ground and I haven’t left Minnesota since.”
His path led him back to his familiar home but into a whole new line of work.
“Long story short, we started a Weggy’s in Lake Crystal about 16 years ago. It was a great learning tool, great experience. It was never going to be anything crazy at that location though. You knew every day who was going to be there. You knew every week how much you were going to sell. It was just constant.”
Wegman doesn’t do well with constant, humdrum, simple.
“One day we got a phone call to do a catering job at the AmericInn and the next week they called and said, ‘We were so impressed with what you did, would you do more?’ We ended up doing I think 76 weddings for the AmericInn that year.”
That was also the year space opened up near the AmericInn, in U Square. So Wegman moved from Lake Crystal to Mankato.
“We’ve been here about seven years and every year we grow a little bit. One year we took over the hallway to get more seating. U Square sold us the hallway, we moved the doors, moved the windows to get more space. The next year we bought Berry Blendz next door because we needed more kitchen space. Two years ago, we started The 507 Food Truck. Then last year we did The 507, which is located downtown. This year we expanded Weggy’s again by buying the space on the other side of us. It was more than we needed for Weggy’s, so I started Krusty’s Donut Shop.
“It just intertwined. As I sit here and tell the story, in some ways I started at MSU and now I’m right back across the street from MSU.”
His personal life has gone full circle too.
“I married Dani about three years ago. We have two kids, six-year-old Blakely and a two-year-old Sawyer, and we have four dogs. We just moved to Mankato about two years ago, which made it a lot easier than driving from Lake Crystal to Mankato. We’re actually 30 seconds away now. It’s just easy. It’s easy to manage everything.”
Fortunately for Wegman, his workforce also lives nearby, making it easier to find employees.
“99.6% of our employees are college students. I think altogether we probably have between 250 and 300 employees between all businesses. It seems like a lot, but there’s a lot of part-time. Our pool of employees is right across the street. They live upstairs, a lot of people walk to work. You have to spend money, you have to pay to get what you need. They get paid well, they get treated well. We try to hire friends of people that work here. That person is somewhat responsible for the person they bring in. Usually, they bring in people, good people hang out with good people.”
For Wegman, though, it’s more than a full-time job.
“I probably work 80 hours a week, but I’d rather work 80 hours for me than 10 hours for somebody else.”
It’s clear, Wegman enjoys life. Although he will be the first to admit, being your own boss, being the one responsible, has its challenges.
“The biggest challenge I suppose is just juggling it all, making the ends meet. I can remember times where you’re taking the money at the end of the day and running it right to the bank so you could deposit it and have enough to cover expenses. It was that way a lot when we first started up.”
Wegman also learns from employees and customers every chance he gets.
“To be honest, I’d rather hear the bad stuff. I’ll go on Google, and I’ll type in Weggy’s reviews and I’ll see like the one star, the two-star and I’ll read why and I’m like, ‘Oh.’,” he explains. “I would say it’s a challenge but I look at the bad rather than the good because you can learn from the bad. I’d rather know the bad because you can try to fix it. I mean, we don’t really have a lot, but there is some so that’s a struggle.”
Five businesses, four dogs, three minutes to get to work, two kids and one wife, Wegman knows he couldn’t have written it any better.
While juggling five businesses is a lot, it’s nothing compared to his true passion in life: his children, six-year-old Blakely and two-year-old Sawyer.
“To be honest, my hobby actually is probably my kids. At 52, I’m a way better dad than I would’ve been at 32. My hobbies are going to be whatever I can do with my kids for the foreseeable future! Blakely and Sawyer, together they are BS!” he smiles.
While he is a big supporter of Minnesota State University Maverick Athletics, he also gives of his time, talent and treasure in other ways. For example, this year he participated in the American Red Cross fundraiser, “Dancing with the Mankato Stars.”
“I had a great time. I actually miss having that in my life right now! I wish it would’ve been two days because I had never seen it before. I had no idea what I was getting into until the day of,” Wegman says. “But it was a great experience.”
Weggy’s is perhaps best known for its breakfasts, which Wegman always marvels at because it was not a goal when he started out.
“I don’t know how it happened, one of the kids that worked for me said, ‘hey, we should start serving breakfast’,” says Wegman. “I told him I didn’t know how to make breakfast, so he brought in a dozen eggs, hash browns, and we sat in the kitchen at Weggy’s on a Saturday morning just playing around with it. My friends call me the “egg cracker”, or since my last name is Wegman they call me “Eggman”. We were just sitting there and decided to do it, I don’t know why, but it worked out. Sometimes I wonder, would I have rather got another job maybe where you could get up at eight in the morning and be home at five. No way! This is a hoot. The people we work with are great. But how did we get here, I don’t know.”
Weggy’s on Campus
1600 Warren Street, Suite 13
Mankato, MN 56001
Phone: (507) 720-6633
Photo by Jonathan Smith