Bailey Ray’s in search of new owners
Bittersweet. That’s the word Ray Mulvey and Terry Scheck both use to describe their feelings as they prepare for the September 8 auction of Bailey Ray’s Roadhouse, the iconic Santiago establishment the married couple has owned and operated for the past 22 years.
Known for its amazing food, friendly staff and its annual concert series dubbed “The Shakedown,” Bailey Ray’s is more than just a bar and restaurant for the local community.
“This place is more like the community center for the town” Ray says. “We’ve had so many benefits here, along with birthdays and retirements.”
Terry mentions the many touching services that have been held at their establishment as some of her and Ray’s most memorable moments.
“It’s been an honor to be able to do memorials here for community members,” Terry says.
The couple, who will celebrate their 42nd wedding anniversary on August 31, are both reflective and appreciative as they near the end of their run as owners.
“What we’ve found is that if we give people something to do, they will show up and do it,” Terry adds. “From bean bags to volleyball and many other activities, the community has supported us and showed up for everything.”
Ray marvels at the resiliency of the community, as well as his “community center”.
“This place went through a flood in 2001, the fire in 2006 and then the recession of 2008 and finally the pandemic,” Ray says. “The community just keeps showing up and supports us through everything. I mean, who makes it through all of that?”
Ray says the community showed up and helped clean the place after the flood and it reopened within one week, and many of those helpers he had never met before. After the fire that completely destroyed the former building, he and Terry were leaning towards not rebuilding, “but people were stopping by the house and sending cards... the support was amazing.”
Ray also notes that it’s not just Santiago folk who frequent the establishment, but people from Elk River to St. Cloud make regular treks to indulge in the excellent fare.
The bar’s location on a large parcel makes it unique among area venues, with the ability to easily host outdoor concerts. The Shakedown series featured 15 shows, only interrupted once by road construction and then by COVID-19. However, Mulvey is confident that the new owners will be able to continue a concert series in the future.
A number of national acts have performed on stage throughout the music series, including Elvin Bishop and also the Jim Belushi show, which Mulvey called “a very interesting gig.”
Ray and Terry say they will obviously miss running the operation, but also the spirit of the many patrons they have grown close to over the years.
For example, twin sisters Mary and Terri (nee Erickson) have forged a close friendship with the owners, delivering whole milk to Ray from time to time.
“They found out I grew up pretty poor after my father and brother were killed in the 1950’s,” Ray says. “We didn’t have milk when I was younger so the twins bring me fresh whole milk from time to time, which I love.”
It’s those special connections which will yield the most difficult good-byes.
Perhaps the key to the entire Bailey Ray’s operation has been the generosity of the owners, although both Ray and Terry demur when this is mentioned. Many area residents have come to know the couple as extremely generous and charitable individuals.
Countless benefits have been hosted on-site for area residents, while Ray and Terry started cooking homemade chicken noodle soup during the pandemic and regularly provide 40 to 50 quarts a week for area food shelves.
Nurses before their restaurant career, Ray and Terry call it “a healing soup” and say, “we just do it because it’s something people should do.”
Charity is also the reason that Ray and Terry have chosen Colonel Ray Henry and the team at I.R.A.Y. Auctions to conduct the sale.
“If there’s been a benefit or a charitable auction here, Ray Henry has been here every time I needed him,” Mulvey says. “He’s got a big heart.”
While the auction is opening online this week, it will end with live and online bidding on September 8, closing at 5:30 p.m. Because the operation is turnkey, the business expected to remain open throughout the entire auction and closing process.
“Ray and Terry have been cornerstones of the Santiago community and really the entire central minnesota area,” Colonel Ray Henry says. “We appreciate the confidence they have shown in us to help them sell their business so they can spend more time with their family, including their grandson Logan. Whomever is fortunate enough to acquire this business is getting a great location with extremely loyal customers and the opportunity to retain a very talented staff. Ray and Terry have really set up the next owners for continued success.”