A new restaurant, Sunshine's SummerHouse, has joined lakes area offerings and it’s one with a summer vibe.

The business is described as a craft kitchen with elevated cocktails. Mornings include fresh fruit smoothies, large made-from-scratch caramel rolls, as well as avocado toast. Lunch or dinner may include burgers, fresh grilled citrus salmon, zoodle primavera or carnitas tacos. The restaurant features Starbucks coffee. Cold brews, they report, may include lavender or whipped espresso over iced milk. The SummerHouse burger has two premium beef patties with cheese and caramelized onions. The smoothie bar starts at 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. daily and lunch and dinner begin daily at 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Sunshine's SummerHouse is now open along Highway 77 in the former Jake’s restaurant, the address is 2008 Hill Drive, Lake Shore. The restaurant is a joint venture between Joe Seaver and Claire Driessen.

“We love the restaurant industry,” Seaver said in a phone interview, adding that includes serving people and the entire team concept behind the operations. “It’s a fun job and fun place to come to.”

Other restaurant menu items include a cajun chicken avocado sandwich, walleye sandwich, black and bleu burger, salmon pate cucumber cups, or flatbread such as a grape and bleu cheese flatbread from the brick oven. The menu also includes esquites, an off-the-cob Mexican street corn — sweet corn with a chipotle lime mayo and parmesan cheese. There are other side dishes, a kids menu, entrees and pasta, salads, more taco offerings — walleye and Sunshine’s own taco creation and protein bites (think oats, maple syrup, peanut butter, flaxseed and protein).

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Handcrafted cocktails include a coconut blackberry bikini with Malibu coconut rum, blackberry brandy liqueur and pineapple juice to name just one from a menu that includes Old Fashioneds and whiskeys, martinis, the cocktails and tequila, beer, winds and seltzers.

As far as opening a restaurant in the current environment and during the coronavirus pandemic — “We are either crazy or opportunists,” Seaver responded.

Claire Driessen and Joe Seaver are behind the new Sunshine's SummerHouse restaurant. Submitted photo
Claire Driessen and Joe Seaver are behind the new Sunshine's SummerHouse restaurant. Submitted photo

With restaurant industry experience, Seaver said they have the advantage of knowing what to expect from a demanding work environment. Friends and family have helped. “You can’t do this alone,” Seaver said.

Jake’s closed last year and Seaver said the property has been on the market for a few months. It was an opportunity they wanted to take advantage of and about eight weeks ago they were giving the restaurant a facelift.

Seaver described it as more in a vibe of at the beach and at the lake with summer colors in white, pinks, yellows and blues. The food focus is on fresh and grilled foods. They have a martini menu with a raspberry mojito, a popular beverage, Seaver said. A SummerHouse burger and carnitas tacos are already popular, he said. For breakfast they offer fresh fruits and avocado toast.

“We think we are very affordable,” Seaver said, adding they want and need local support and price points are one of the ways they hope to add to their appeal.

The restaurant offers takeout and online ordering. They also create packs — carnitas taco, morning hero (rolls and cold brew coffee), grilled chicken scampi, or barbecue pulled pork sandwiches — for gatherings and can do custom catering.

Currently they have limited indoor seating and patio seating. In their renovations, they rebuilt an outdoor gazebo as well.

Going out to a business in the days ahead will mean — more and more — bringing a mask.

For a long time, anecdotal observations had about 20% of customers with face coverings. Some days it was a lot more. Some days probably less. It’s not uncommon to see people pull their masks from their purses or pockets or to see them hanging on car dashboards. Face masks are part of daily life these days during the coronavirus pandemic. Last week, the number of businesses announcing they will require face masks for shoppers grew to include SuperOne Foods, CVS and Target, Kohl’s, Walmart and Walgreens, adding to others already on that list like Costco and Menards. Target’s requirement begins Aug. 1. Walgreens and Walmart both start July 20. SuperOne’s requirement began last week.

From USA Today: “In a recent Harris Poll survey about businesses mandating masks found 76% of Americans want businesses to ‘exact and enforce’ their own mandatory policies, with 80% saying they are more likely to do business with a company if they require all customers and employees to wear a face mask during the pandemic.”

Last week, the National Retail Federation issued a statement urging all retailers to adopt a nationwide policy to require customers to wear face coverings or masks “to protect the health and well-being of customers, associates and partners during the coronavirus pandemic.”

“The health and safety of associates and customers is retailers' number one priority and wearing a face covering or mask is scientifically proven to reduce the spread of COVID-19. NRF applauds the leadership of companies like Walmart, Starbucks, Best Buy, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Apple, Qurate Retail Group, Costco and others that have implemented nationwide mask mandates,” the federation reported.

In an email newsletter, the Brainerd Lakes Chamber of Commerce stated that no matter personal views on face masks or the governor’s leadership, they “strongly urge everyone to do whatever it takes to make sure our local businesses aren’t shut down again. There is no doubt that another round of closures would be even more devastating than the first.

“While we are encouraging compliance, we do not believe that businesses should bear the sole responsibility and consequences of ensuring public safety. Our primary concern is enforcement and making sure that businesses aren’t placed in the position of policing customers or refusing service.”

The chamber recommendations include: staying in compliance, don’t risk fines or license revocation or being branded as a hot spot and to make sure safety measures are visible to customers. It also recommended joining the Lake Country Cares campaign and ordering the Lake Country Cares masks, which are a play on lumberjack flannel in five colors, which are made by the Teehive in Baxter. “Wear them to promote regional safety and protect against another shutdown. We've already distributed more than 1,500 masks to area businesses.”

The Lake Country Cares campaign at www.lakecountrycares.com/ is a community effort in partnership with major area health care providers for a unified approach to safe reopening and with a goal of being a state leader in safely being open for business.

The Region 5 Children’s Museum is hosting Business After Hours from 4:30-6 p.m. Tuesday, July 28, in Lum Park with the 612 Station serving utensil free appetizers and beverages. The Brainerd Lakes Chamber of Commerce’s networking event will also be on Facebook with a live interview at 5:30 p.m.

Renee Richardson, managing editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchBizBuzz.