BINFORD — Ron Halvorson isn’t looking to add to his to-do list.
The Griggs County Farmers Union president from Binford has enough on his plate to zap the energy from a middle-aged man. But for the 72-year-old Halvorson, community is too important.
Halvorson recently took over the Binford Cafe after he walked away from the restaurant nearly 40 years ago. Sure, he has cattle to check, a fencing business to help operate, an auction service to run on the side and his grandchildren’s rodeo careers to follow. Still, it’s worth finding the time.
“I did it for the town,” Halvorson said. “I just couldn’t see it going the way it was. We’ve always had a good restaurant in Binford.”
The restaurant has remained open for the most part through the years, but ownership has changed hands multiple times since Wally and Madelyn Halvorson sold it around 1980. Ron helped run the restaurant for nearly a decade before it was sold.
“It’s really being run like my mother ran it,” Ron said. “All homemade food. We have potatoes, gravy, vegetables — beef, pork or ham every day for dinner. You can order burgers or anything you want, but most farmers want a (home-cooked) meal. Many don’t want a sandwich.”
It’s extra work, of course, but Halvorson doesn’t mind. He has four servers that are able to cook as well. They can take the reins when he’s attending to other duties.
For example, when the Union Farmer visited Halvorson inside his restaurant, he was in the middle of an average day. He woke up at 4:30 a.m. and checked cows before heading into the restaurant to make coffee between 5:30 and 6 a.m. The cafe technically opens at 7 a.m., but Halvorson said he doesn’t mind if people pop in for coffee after 6 a.m.
Around 8 a.m., he headed out to local pastures to fix fence as part of his fencing business. He was there until 3 p.m., when he came back to the restaurant to prepare it for dinner rush. He remained there an hour past closing time, helping with clean-up. He makes it home around 9 p.m., settling in to watch a TV show or two before going to sleep.
Retirement often happens in the mid-60s, but Halvorson is taking on even more in his 70s. So what personal value does the former Air Force veterinary technician see in filling up every minute of his day?
“I’ve had a lot of friends retire between (ages) 62-65. You know what happened to them? They’re not here anymore,” Halvorson said. “You have to stay active and busy, and keep your mind busy. You can’t just go home and sit down and read the paper and or watch TV. Some guys golf, but that don’t seem to work chasing that little ball around.”
During the week days, the cafe opens every morning at 7 and closes at 8 p.m., but Halvorson said the hours are somewhat flexible based on need. The restaurant also does catering and even features specials on Saturday night and Sunday. Halvorson served Norwegian specialties Kumla and Torsk his first two weekends, respectively.
Halvorson said he couldn’t do it without the help of his wife Shelley, who takes care of the paperwork.
“She does all of it on the financial end, and she has someone that helps her too,” Ron said. “She figures it all out. I don’t have to monkey with that. I just take my receipts home to her at night.”
He said he hopes the restaurant will bring others from the surrounding areas into town for a meal. And if they do, he hopes they see the great community that he sees.
“Before I came in, probably 30-40 people were here and cleaned the place,” Halvorson said. “That’s the kind of community they are.
“I’m not looking to make money — we just want to break even. I hope the people support us, because it’s going to take support to keep it here.”
– Chris Aarhus, NDFU