Harriet has left the building“Elvis has left the building.” The once famous line that alerted Elvis Presley fans the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll was done performing in concert and the audience need not wait for an encore, seems appropriate for the Queen of Grizzly’s.
By: By Don Leighton, Superior Telegram
“Elvis has left the building.”
The once famous line that alerted Elvis Presley fans the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll was done performing in concert and the audience need not wait for an encore, seems appropriate for the Queen of Grizzly’s.
Harriet Rakitnichan earned the title Queen of Grizzly’s in Superior, where she served as hostess since 1997. Even before Grizzly’s was Grizzly’s, Harriet worked in the same building when it was known as Ponderosa and Bonanza steak houses. All told, she “worked the room” of these restaurants since 1995.
Managing partner of Grizzly’s, Rick Lampton, has known and had worked with Harriet since 1995 when Ponderosa occupied the building. In fact, Harriet was there a couple of months before Rick began. Like fine wine, their relationship aged over the years. Each respected one another, and at times, had differing opinions. What’s a great relationship without some angst and an occasional disagreement? Each knew a good thing when they saw it. Harriet stayed and Rick kept her employed when 99.9 percent of us would be sitting back watching television. It was a “marriage” made for Grizzly’s.
Lampton speaks fondly of his life with Harriet.
“She was the most unique person I have ever met, Lampton said. “We have so many customers who really loved coming in to see her. She always had a story and her sense of humor was incredible. Every customer who knew her will miss her and every employee will think about her often. She was like a grandmother to everyone who ever worked here. I will truly miss her.”
She was one of those people you thought would live forever. At a “young” 83 years of age, she exhibited energy and a lifestyle of which most 50-something’s would be envious.
She traveled to Florida to visit her daughter; she frequented the casinos in our area; she went to Las Vegas; and even went on a three-day cruise. I bet the captain let her steer the boat. She enjoyed her life to the fullest and was always on the go.
Speaking of Las Vegas, apparently a few years ago, she created quite a stir in Sin City. As the story goes, Harriet was at the Riviera Hotel and Casino playing the slot machines. As she was playing, someone walked off with her purse. She immediately attracted the attention of a couple of burly security guards, informed them of her dilemma and was escorted by these two behemoths to the offices to fill out a report. All eyes in the Casino were watching as the diminutive, 4-foot-11, almost 80-year-old Harriet was being led away by two huge uniformed gentlemen. As she concluded her narrative, in matter of fact fashion, she said, “I’ll bet everyone in the casino thought I was a hooker.”
If Harriet knew you, she would always have a verbal shot for you and warn against spilling any popcorn or peanuts on the floor. Anything was fair game and if you responded with a shot of your own, the inevitable return was quick and to the point. Her wit and smile made her one you enjoyed running into and verbally sparring with, even though you knew you could not win.
Nobody knew it at the time, but April 24, 1928, was a very special day in American history. Harriet was born on this day, and who could know what was in store for the rest of the world. Always a hard and dedicated worker, she worked at the Duluth Glassblock department store for more than 25 years. Her recent employment at Grizzly’s continued right up to last Saturday evening, Dec. 10. She got tired and her big heart finally said enough is enough and went to sleep on Monday Dec. 12. What a life she led and what life she gave to her family and friends.
Sarah Rehnstrand, manager of Grizzly’s, speaks of Harriet’s influence.
“She was a spirited, tell-you-how-it-is-woman,” Rehnstrand said. “I will always remember her at Grizzly’s drinking coffee, from her cup, and doing Sudoku. She touched so many lives of the people that have worked at Grizzly’s, and she will never be forgotten. I hope that we can all be as lively and humorous as Harriet was over the last 14 years I have had the honor of knowing her. She will be missed by more people than I think she would have ever thought.”
I must say, well said.
So long Harriet. You still owe me a steak dinner at Grizzly’s. I will wait until we meet again to collect. Thank you for being who you were.
Yes friends, Harriet has left the building, and it’s too quiet now.
An encore would be nice.