ST. CLOUD -- An iconic Mexican-style restaurant in St. Cloud is changing ownership this week.

William "Bravo Bill" and Helen Ellenbecker are selling Bravo Burritos Mexicatessen and Bar which they founded in April of 1985.

Customers will be pretty familiar with the new owners though, longtime employees Samantha Hennen and Mike Lardy are taking over.

William and Helen Ellenbecker, photo from SCSU Archives

Lardy says he's worked there a little over 20 years now and he's been talking about buying the business for about 10 years.

As they wanted their succession plan to include a family-type vibe and also somebody that was really invested and cared about the business rather than just selling cold to anybody that was willing to offer up the money.

Lardy says they have plans to make some changes to the back end of the business, but loyal customers won't see much change.

We think the recipes are superb, they are handcrafted and our audience is very loyal. We have a lot of people that come here all the time and they expect that same level of consistency they've been getting for the past three decades.

Lardy says he and Hennen met at Bravo Burritos years ago and they've both worked their way up to assistant managers.

photo from SCSU archives

As for this past year during COVID restrictions, Lardy says they've been offering delivery for over a decade now and they have a very loyal audience, so they weathered the storm about as good as anybody could.  He says they are also expecting a very busy catering season this summer.

Photo from SCSU archives

The original Bravo Burritos was on 5th Avenue in downtown St. Cloud which was there from 1985 until 2000. The current location has been open since 1993. At one time there were three locations.

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