Thursday, June 1, 2023

Kasson boy makes good as new restauranteur

Moving home to his parents’ basement wasn’t a dream for Kasson native Samuel Robinson. But opening his own business with partner Aili Sella was his dream, so he compromised.

The dynamic duo opened The Fit Loon, a healthy fast food store in Rochester, a year ago in October, and are now planning to open a second Kasson location in coming months. Called Three Oh One, the restaurant will be located downtown at 301 W. Main St.

It will have its own look, feel and menu and won’t be a replica of their Rochester store, the couple said during a “Real Growth” podcast with Rochester realtor Bucky Beeman.

And happily, they are no longer living in Robinson’s parents’ basement.

“We are doing it a little different this time around,” he said of the future Kasson smoothie and juice bar. “Because Kasson has their own community, Three Oh One will have a different look.”

Ten years ago, Robinson left Kasson for college in Bemidji. There he met Sella. He also dropped out of school and took up construction and bartending as his jobs.

In fact, they both worked at the Green Mill in Bemidji and found they had a passion for customer service. Getting to know people and their stories has been a huge lesson for them that they’ve now incorporated into their business model at The Fit Loon, where regulars reign supreme.

“We had that restaurant experience,” Sella said of the couple’s formative Bemidji years. “We both loved being in the restaurant and serving the community. We had that passion. And we were like, why can’t we do something like this on our own?”

They considered possible locations for their dream restaurant and eventually settled on Rochester. It was, Robinson said, “an open market” ready for what they had to provide.

It also helped that they could for a time live with Robinson’s parents and keep costs down. The build out of The Fit Loon, located on Broadway Avenue in the heart of downtown Rochester, took longer than they had anticipated, but it was well worth the wait.

Robinson said creating relationships is his favorite aspect of his day job now.

“I love what I do,” he said. “I love going in everyday and seeing people.”

Their thought going into the Rochester venture was, should they stay in Bemidji during the pandemic, or take a risk and “move into a market in need of what we wanted to offer,” he said.

From Bemidji, they commuted to Rochester two or three times, making the six-hour trek to look at available commercial spaces. That is how they met Beeman. Eventually they found the space they decided to call their own, and packed up everything they owned and moved to Kasson.

Sella said the chief life lesson she’s learned throughout their business venture process has been patience. The build-out of The Fit Loon was time consuming, and no longer was the couple making “fast money,” as she said of their Bemidji bartending days.

“I thought, and here we are, still not open … that has been our biggest lesson,” she said. “Let time do its thing. You can only control so much.”

They sacrificed a lot to realize their dream, the couple recounts. And they also had to overcome the doubting Thomases among their family and friends who cautioned them about taking a risk.

“I’m pretty happy with it,” Robinson said. Sella added, “I’m happy with it. I’m proud of us. We had people telling us not to do it, shout out to our parents. They did not fully support us at first and Sam and I decided let’s prove it to them. We had to prove it to our parents and friends too.”

They don’t have a likely opening date for the Kasson location of Three Oh One. They just know it’ll be as great as The Fit Loon, their first business venture in Rochester.

“We wanted to be open a few months ago, but build out is just starting,” Sella said. “The town is so excited for us to open in Kasson, and that’s the best part.”

Photo: Submitted Photo Aili Sella and Samuel Robinson opened their Rochester smoothie and juice bar The Fit Loon just over a year ago, and are now opening a second location in Kasson. It will be located at 301 W. Main St., and appropriately named Three Oh One.


Dodge County Independent

Dodge County Independent
Dodge County ADvantage
301 S. Mantorville Ave.
Plaza 57 • Suite 200
Kasson, MN 55944

Dodge County Printing
301 S. Mantorville Ave.
Plaza 57 • Suite 200
Kasson, MN 55944