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New owner takes over at The Otter

Sam Benshoof/FOCUS Dan Hurder, new owner and operator of The Otter in Ottertail, plans to be hands on in the daily business of the restaurant and hotel.

On any given day, visitors to The Otter Supper Club and Lodge in Ottertail will see new owner Dan Hurder working with his laptop at the bar.

Hurder, who recently purchased The Otter, brings with him significant experience in hotel management. Most recently, he worked as general manager of the Hilton Garden Inn in Fargo. Hurder has a business degree in hotel management from the University of Denver.

Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Hurder wasn't very familiar with the Ottertail area until he heard through a work connection that The Otter was for sale.

After coming to check it out, Hurder decided that the establishment seemed like the right fit for him.

"And here I sit," he said.

Hurder has already come up with a list of ideas to improve The Otter, including giving the building a facelift, adding new items to the menu, new theme nights, different events and more.

The Otter is a unique venue, Hurder said, because it holds a special place in people's hearts.

"There's a community interest in making it succeed, which is what sold me on it," he said.

So far, he's embraced the Ottertail area.

"It's a great area. It's not nearly as commercial as some of the other lake areas," he said. "It's kind of a well-kept secret."

Hurder describes his role as both owner and operator, and plans to be very hands-on in the daily business of the establishment.

Even while he's busy working on his computer at the bar, Hurder wants locals to feel like they can come approach him.

"I want people to come in and introduce themselves to me," he said. "I want them to come in and say hello, and to keep an eye on the changes we have planned."