Ashland native Jim Hagstrom is a molecular biologist, co-founder and owner of Mirus Bio LLC, an inventor with more than 150 patents, and an entrepreneur. Now together with his wife Beth, Jim can add philanthropy to his list. Last week Jim and Beth announced the donation of Blue Wave on the Bay to Northland College, where he serves on the Board of Trustees.
“We have two goals with this donation—to help Northland and to help Ashland,” he said.
Jim hasn’t lived in Ashland since high school but his mother still resides here—and he returns often. He decided to buy Bodin’s in 2012 as a way to help his hometown create a space to recreate and enjoy the big lake.
“Jim and Beth are an energetic, civic-minded, creative pair,” said Northland College President Michael A. Miller. “Northland College is honored to carry forward their vision of a space where the public can eat, sleep, recreate, meet, and just sit and enjoy Lake Superior.”
Jim stepped down as the president of Mirus Bio LLC to focus on the Blue Wave project, a family affair. His architect son, Brian, designed the building to pay homage to the lake and the history of Ashland—from the nautical shape of the building down to incorporating Monk’s Bowling Alley lanes for tables.
Blue Wave opened in 2015 as a multi-use building with hotel rooms, a restaurant and coffee shop, and commercial retail space leased to Solstice Outdoors, an outdoor recreation business.
For the most part, nothing will change with the transfer of ownership. The building will remain on the tax roll as a private business and Solstice Outdoors will continue to lease space.
An enhanced Blue Wave Inn and Café will move forward under the management of Michelle Rudeen, who owns and operates Freehands Farm, a farm-to-table restaurant outside of Ashland.
Beth Hagstrom shed tears as she entered the café last week for the first time in six weeks to finalize the deal. “I didn’t realize it would be so emotional,” she said. “I spent nearly every day here for two years, looking at this view—I’m happy to see that it looks good.”
Beth has been fully involved in the day-to-day operation for the last two years—traveling between her home in Madison and a house in Bayfield. She handed over the reins to Rudeen October 1.
The only visible change: Rudeen added a full service bar. Rudeen will run Blue Wave Inn & Café, and what she is calling Freehands Lakeside. The Blue Wave Café continues to serve breakfast and lunch seven days a week. Freehands Lakeside is open for dinner Wednesday through Saturday. She will continue to operate Freehands Farm and greenhouse during the summer months.
“I’m thrilled to be here,” she said. “I’m excited to be able to continue sourcing food from so many local farmers—and showing customers what we still have in season.”
Solstice Co-owner Katie Gellatly says she sees opportunities to strengthen ties with Northland College and possibly coordinate outdoor experiences. “I don’t know what it will look like exactly,” she said. “But the connection with the College is a natural one.”
The College will be developing a plan this winter for possible programming ideas.
“I want the faculty, staff and students to have a place they’re proud of,” Jim Hagstrom said. “I want the city to have a space they’re proud of. My hope is that this gift accomplishes both those goals.”