Area Dining: Dunmire eager to bring his dining experience to lakes area

Restaurant moves into the former Hassies Saloon location on Highway 210 east of Brainerd.

Chris Dunmire sits outside of Dunmire's Bar and Grill Thursday, June 25, after a major remodel of the restaurant. The bar and grill will open on July 1 and is located just south of the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport on Highway 210. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

One first must understand Chris before you can understand his concept for Dunmire’s Bar and Grill.

Neither are complicated. In fact, Chris Dunmire describes himself as a regular meat-and-potato type of guy. He talks highly of his family and its history in the restaurant business. It’s that pride that gave him the idea to purchase the old Hassies Saloon west of the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport.

With a bold, new exterior and unique menu inside, Dunmire’s is set to open Wednesday, July 1, with a big grand-opening weekend planned July 3-4.

So what can patrons expect?

“I don’t really have a concept,” Dunmire said. “Lots of people ask me ‘What’s your theme?’ and I don’t really have one. I work seven days a week so when you come in, you get to meet me. The theme is more or less the atmosphere you get. It’s just that coming home feel.


“It’s not a sports bar or an Italian joint. We have good food and all sorts of stuff from street tacos to pot roast dinners to steaks, shrimp, walleye sandwiches and burgers. It’s got everything. I think there are 68 different things on the menu so it’s versatile.”

Don’t confuse Dunmire’s lack of concept for lack of creativity. While he has the standard Brainerd lakes menu items, he does show flair with a few plates. If there is one underlying theme to Dunmire’s, it's that there is something on his menu for anyone.

“I have a lot of new things on my menu and that’s what separates my menu from a lot of other places,” Dunmire said. “Granted everyone has chicken sandwiches and cheeseburgers and they all generally have a few different varieties of those now, but some of mine, once they come out and you see them after they are plated you’ll be like ‘Oh, I didn’t imagine it being like that.’ It will be different than what you’re used to.”

Dunmire gave the example of his horseshoe burger that features a light mix of horseradish with a five-cheese sauce. It’s an open-faced sandwich with Texas toast topped with the burger, which is topped with french fries and bacon with the horseradish cheese sauce smothering the entire entree.

“It’s kind of a fork food, but it’s definitely different than what you would get any other place,” Dunmire said. “This is what I strive for. We’ll have your normal menu items that comfort everybody, but we’ll have other dishes where people will say they have never seen that or tried that.”

When asked what he enjoys when he goes out, a large smile spread across his face and he answered, “Everything.”

Which is what Dunmire hopes to deliver from his restaurant -- a little bit of everything with a comfortable, familiar atmosphere.

Dunmire’s first restaurant experience came from his family’s restaurant The Wharf in Alexandria where he graduated. His father then purchased Ron’s Steak House on Gull and turned it into Ernie’s on Gull.


“I grew up with that life, cooking there and cleaning, docking boats, through the stages of my life,” Dunmire said. “I left and went to construction for about five or six years and came back when my father’s health wasn’t the best to help him out and slowly worked up enough money to buy this restaurant.”

He admits the timing hasn’t been perfect with COVID-19 and dining restrictions placed upon restaurants by the state. The young optimist is looking at the positives, however.

“I would have rather have opened up two months ago, but the one nice thing about that is it has given me a little more time to focus on the details instead of rushing the work that we were doing,” Dunmire said. “Obviously, then you get pickier and pickier, which made more work, but everything has a pro and a con so it’s all in how you want to look at it.”

Dunmire also isn’t deterred from the many ownership changes his location has seen. In fact, he sees the resurgence of Crosby and the east side of Brainerd as reasons he believes Dunmire’s Bar and Grill will also succeed.

He also believes his work ethic will be a difference-maker.

“I think the location is great,” Dunmire said. “A lot of people roll into this industry believing they can own a restaurant or a bar and not necessarily have to work it. More or less just sit on the other side and expect the money to come in head over heels. In this industry, and especially in a smaller town like this, not having a million population, it’s hard to have the consistency of business unless you are doing things right and focusing on the quality of food and quality of service.”

Dunmire’s Bar and Grill


Where: West of Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport on Highway 210 just east of Brainerd

Opening: Wednesday, July 1, with a grand opening Friday, July 3, and Saturday, July 4, with live music.

Food: Sixty-eight different menu items for this American style restaurant with some unique twists

Owner: Chris Dunmire

Covering the Brainerd lakes area sports scene for the past 23 years.
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