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Jessica Ballou, Published February 19 2012

It's My Job: Managing Kroll’s a rush

FARGO - Rick Jaeger started in the restaurant business as a dishwasher in 1984, and now he’s been the manager of Kroll’s Diner at 1033 45th St. S. here for the past 11 years.

He started working at the Perkin’s in Fergus Falls, Minn., as a dishwasher, then moved up to a part-time cook, a supervisor and kitchen manager. After working at the Perkins in Sauk Rapids, Minn., Jaeger moved to Moorhead to sell manufactured homes.

As the economy took a turn for the worse in 2001, Jaeger took on a second job at Kroll’s, and he hasn’t looked back since.

Q: What attracted you to working at Kroll’s over other restaurants in the area?

A: The building. It’s something like you’d see in the movies. I like the idea of an old-fashioned diner.

It has a very close feeling. It’s small in here, so it’s very personal.

What’s it like in here on Mondays (shakes and malts are buy one, get one free on Shakey Mondays)?

It’s crazy. It’s downright nuts. We’re very busy.

We can get busy at any given point, especially during the school year from around 7 (p.m.) to midnight. We can have a waiting list out the door for hours.

College people seem to have about 50 friends on average. They like to come out in big groups.

I’ve had tables of 50 people. You have to get creative.

We start the special at 10 on Sunday nights. We used to go midnight to midnight (on Mondays), and we’d get such a big rush at midnight.

Now it gets a little more spread out. We have a rush from 10 to 1 instead of all at midnight. It’s nicer for employees so they don’t get clobbered.

A lot of people relate Kroll’s to the shakes. Out in Bismarck, where this all got started, it’s not that big of a deal there. I think we go through more ice cream than all of the other stores combined.

On a typical Monday, and it can vary quite a bit, we can go through 30 to 50 3-gallon tubs of ice cream.

What’s your day like?

I like that it’s never the same thing. You’re interacting with different people. I couldn’t imagine going to a cubicle every day.

Working with people can be a good thing … it does make the time fly. We are a very busy store because of its location.

What do you think makes Kroll’s Diner stand out?

Obviously, the look of the diner. That’s the only reason why I’m here. When I applied, I hadn’t eaten here before.

We have German specialties, like knoephla soup, fried dough. We sell a lot of burgers here, and obviously the shakes.

Our idea is to keep doing it well and not change the product. We found something that works, and we’re sticking with it. I’ve been here for 11 years, and it’s still popular.

And how about those Kroll’s ladies?

They don’t work for us; they actually work for our ad agency as paid actresses.

That was an idea of the people who do our ads.

The commercials) are filmed in the store. It’s a pretty big production.

How would you sum up your job?

It’s a lot of work. It’s definitely not for the person who’s not high energy.

I’m always moving.

I can eat a lot and I don’t gain a single pound ever. That’s just how I am. But I guarantee you, if I sat in a desk every day, my 170-pound figure would change real quick.

It’s high energy. It takes a lot of stick-to-it-iveness, for lack of a better word. It’s long hours, but it’s also very rewarding. When the day’s over, you feel like you’ve accomplished something.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Jessica Ballou at (701) 241-5509

To submit an idea for “It’s My Job,” email businessnews@forumcomm.com.