Editor's note: This story is part of a series looking back at some of the biggest stories of 2018. Find the rest of the series here: Top Ten 2018.

River Falls residents got a few new things to chew on in 2018, with the opening of the new Aldi store, and the forthcoming opening of a new Culvers.

Culvers to open Jan. 28

After Perkins closed on Aug. 12, the building began undergoing a transformation that is nearly complete. The 2,105 square-foot building is in the process of being completely renovated, and is set to reopen as a Culvers on Jan. 28.

"It's coming along nicely," said owner/operator Isaac Ryba. "I'd say things are getting buttoned up. We're getting close to getting our equipment delivered soon."

Ryba expects the equipment in the next week or two, and then training will begin.

Ryba said he is hiring for all positions at the new Culver's. He expects to hire around 55-60 employees.

"Just from doing interviews, I've heard a lot of people are really excited," Ryba said.

The new restaurant will give high schoolers a place to hang out, college kids a part-time place to work with a flexible schedule, and a place to eat for everyone, he added.

"I think it's just exciting to have something new come," said Ryba.

He's most looking forward to building relationships with customers and employees.

"That's probably the most fun part of what I get to do," he said. "I'm excited to come to town, and hopefully make a positive impact on the community."

"The city is pleased to welcome Culver's to River Falls," said the City's Development Services Director Amy Peterson when it was announced Culvers would be coming to town. "The restaurant will be a wonderful addition to North Main - and to our community!"

Aldi opens

After breaking ground in the summer, Aldi opened its doors on Nov. 19. The grocery store, which is known as a no-frills, cost-effective option, is located on Sullivan Road, off Main Street near Highway 35.

Aldi is excited to be a part of the community, Division Vice President Matt Lilla said at the November grand opening.

"Customers were telling us for years that they wanted to have an Aldi store in town," Lilla said.