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Sagamok expansion project includes eatery

Scott Csernyik

10/11/2001 12:00:00 AM

"Great Root Mukwa"
Observer photo/Scott Csernyik
Sagamok Shell expansion project officials gather together for an Oct. 4 groundbreaking at the convenience store. Pictured from left to right, Sagamok Shell Manager Norm Sorenson; Sub-Chief John Hart Sr.; Eric Borodychuk, project manager for Konwinski Construction, Inc.; Tribal Council Secretary Jeanette Leaureaux; Tribal Council Representative Bernard Sprague; Jerel Konwinski, president/owner of Konwinski Construction, Inc.; Tribal Council Representatives Sue Durfee; David Otto; Ruth Moses; Delmar Jackson Sr. and Maynard Kahgegab Jr.; Ross Blodgett, president of Blodgett Oil Co. and Jim Dufty, vice president of Otto, Dufty, Bensinger & Dice Architects.

The "Great Root Mukwa" is coming to Sagamok Shell on the Isabella Reservation.

As A & W Restaurant, Inc. franchise owners, the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan is expanding the Broadway and Leaton roads convenience store to accommodate a sit-down eatery and drive-through.

The project means the facility will more than double in size-from 2,600-square-feet to 5,600-square-feet. The parking area will also be enlarged and three more islands are to be added, which will allow 12 vehicles to get fuel at the same time.

"The community will have a state-of-the-art facility for them to frequent, whether it's for gasoline, merchandise or food," stated Norm Sorenson, manager of the Sagamok Shell for the past five years. "It's also an opportunity for young Tribal members to get business experience through employment."

The expansion project will mean 10 to 15 new jobs. Work on the project began in early October and is expected to take about 120 days.

The restaurant portion of the building will seat about 30 people and individuals will also be able to place orders by fax. Besides the company's trademark root beer, Sorenson said the business will also offer floats, milk shakes, hamburgers, hot dogs, coney dogs, french fries and onion rings.

"Because of the restaurant facility, people will be able to sit and enjoy their meal," added Sorenson. "By doubling the floor space, we'll be able to offer more merchandise. Another cash register will also be added to serve the customers more efficiently and to handle more volume."

The $1 million expansion will also feature the new Shell image of a white building featuring a gold canopy and red stripe. The Tribe has an operating agreement with the Mt. Pleasant-based Blodgett Oil Co. to provide the Shell name, products (including gasoline) and the credit card system.

A&W merchandise, including glass mugs, are also expected to be offered, according to Sorenson. Hours of operation for the restaurant have not been determined yet.

Sagamok Shell celebrated its grand opening on Nov. 3, 1995. "Sagamok" is an Ojibwe word which suggests the idea of a meeting point.