CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) -- It's the American dream; a local woman worked her way through the ranks of local business and now is celebrating a milestone. Linda Roycraft has been running the Fill Inn Station in Chippewa Falls for nearly 2 decades and this week the restaurant is turning 40 years old.
The Fill Inn Station is celebrating 40 years in business but their history started long before they opened their doors in 1979. Just before that, it was the Blue Diamond gas station and some of the original pillars still stand up in the restaurant. But for the past 40 years it’s a place to fill up on some comfort food instead.
From cheese curds, to burgers and popcorn, the Fill Inn Station has been serving Chippewa Falls for 40 years. “Sometimes struggling, sometimes not struggling but for the most part we have been really lucky,” said owner, Linda Roycraft.
She started here when she was 17 years old as a dishwasher just one year after the fill inn station opened. "I broke, I don't know, 15-20 coffee cups the first day I worked here,” Linda said as she laughed remembering her first day on the job. At that time she didn't know if she would make it the second day, not to mention the next 39 years. "This is a lot of work, this is a lot of family time gone sometimes if something comes up and nobody is here to do something, you are the one that has to do it,” Linda said.
But she continued on and in a few years she might be handing over the reins to her daughter Kara. "I think she kind of always hoped that's what I was going to do and I fought it tooth and nail for pretty much my entire life,” said Kara Goossens, the manager and Linda’s daughter.
But after going to school and moving away, Kara says she kept ending up, back at the Fill Inn Station. "The Chippewa Falls community is honestly, I don't know if there is a better place in the world, really truly,” Kara said.
They are relying on the community and the staff to keep the tradition alive. "We also have really good regular customers,” Linda said. “They are pretty much the backbone of the Fill Inn Station."
They rely on their customers but they need Linda to keep the restaurant running. "We couldn't do it without her; she doesn't give us too many chances to appreciate her because she is never not here,” Kara said about her mom.”
And for Linda it was a simple decision to keep the tradition thriving on west Columbia Street in Chippewa Falls. “I love walking in here, it’s mine and I’ve worked hard,” Linda said.
Although there is a lot of history at the Fill Inn Station, there is one thing Linda and Kara have been searching for years. They are looking for an original picture of the Blue Diamond Gas Station before it was the Fill Inn Station and offering free pizza for a whole year to anyone that can bring them a picture of the gas station to hang on their wall and keep the history alive.