Lou’s Rustic Diner goes viralLou’s Rustic Diner, a popular restaurant and gathering place in Barnum, was destroyed by a flash flood during the heavy rains in June. Now, friends of owners Lou and Robin Paulson are trying to raise money in a very unique way to help them rebuild.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Lou’s Rustic Diner, a popular restaurant and gathering place in Barnum, was destroyed by a flash flood during the heavy rains in June. Now, friends of owners Lou and Robin Paulson are trying to raise money in a very unique way to help them rebuild.
Writer/photographer and former Barnum resident Paul Gregersen, who still owns a cabin in the area, felt moved enough by the plight of the Paulsons and their restaurant to jump right into action to create a poignant video about their story to post online – in hopes of generating financial support to rebuild the popular dining and meeting spot.
“[Lou and Robin] are in a tough spot,” said Gregersen. “They’re approaching retirement age and without flood insurance, it really makes no fiscal sense for them to rebuild because their only option is to finance. For them, it would be easier to close up shop. Like many Midwestern, small-town folk, they aren’t the type of people to ask for help. They’re usually the ones giving it.”
Gregersen stressed the effort to raise money with an online video was the idea of friends of Lou and Robin, not theirs.
“Lou and Robin don’t want to take any attention away from the overall relief effort of Barnum because they are not the type of people to crave the spotlight,” he said.
Gregersen said it only took him a couple of days to put the video together – with the help of a whole lot of friends.
“So many people care about Lou’s that it was an easy and worthwhile thing to do,” Gregersen said. “People were willing to use their iPads, phones and computers to shoot video testimonials that were uploaded to Facebook.”
The inspiring video tells the story not only about the Barnum flood and its devastating impact on Lou’s Rustic Diner, but also about the relationship between Lou’s and the Barnum community – including the unique niche that Lou and Robin and the restaurant fill in the life of many local young people.
“The underlying theme of this story is that if Lou’s Rustic Diner were to close, Barnum would lose their sense of identity,” explained Gregersen. “Lou’s is the heart and soul of this community. This story isn’t about Lou and Robin, though they are very dear friends, neighbors and such sweet people – this is about preserving a tight-knit community who needs and deserves Lou’s. That’s why so many people have come forward to help with construction and to donate to the cause.”
Gregersen said the feedback to the online video has been “phenomenal,” with responses from all over the world, including as far away as New Zealand and France. Within the first 48 hours after the video was posted online, some 1,400 people had already viewed it.
Although the group of supporters hasn’t reached their financial goal just yet, Gregersen said they are hopeful they will at least come close.
In the meantime, Lou and Robin have decided to rebuild and are dedicated to making it happen – “not because they care about the money,” said Gregersen, “[but] because they care about the sense of community Lou’s provides.”
To view the video about Lou’s Rustic Diner, go to http://www.lousrusticdiner.com.
“We would never be able to rebuild without the help of all you wonderful people,” commented the Paulsons on their Facebook page. “We are truly blessed....”