Hassies pulling in old-timers, new customer base
They were told it would never work: Putting a business in the same location as many failed restaurants before. But more than a year later, customers keep coming back to Hassies Saloon and Eatery off Highway 210 near the airport. Business partners...
They were told it would never work: Putting a business in the same location as many failed restaurants before.
But more than a year later, customers keep coming back to Hassies Saloon and Eatery off Highway 210 near the airport.
Business partners Craig Dunmire and Jason Roue opened Hassies in April 2013.
They have no ties to the former Hassies owners, but kept the well known name to help draw in some of the former clientele of the establishment.
"They'll stay for the good food and great service," said, Aaron Dunmire, restaurant manager and chef, and soon-to-be co-owner.
As manager, Dunmire is the face of the restaurant.
He sees it as his goal to make sure each visitor feels welcome and that every bite is perfect.
"The customer appreciates me coming out from the kitchen," he said. "I thank them for stopping out. I do something to make them remember me."
"Tell your friends (about Hassies)," he'll remind customers.
Inside the wooden walls of the longtime building is a country-themed layout. Comfort foods are homemade. There's your cornbread, mac and cheese, prime rib and good ol' meat and potatoes.
The menu choice is something Dunmire thought was lacking in the area before Hassies opened.
Dunmire tries to make each visitor experience fun. He won't use the "same cliches" other places use when getting drink orders. Instead, he'll start off with a chipper, "who's thirsty?
The types of customers stopping in has changed as time passes. At first, it was a lot of the old-timers who once frequented the former Hassies, as well as a lot of residents who live nearby.
Now, it's starting to pull in a younger crowd, whether it be those who want a beer or two, or those who want to take a stab at the two-pound burger and fry eating challenge.
Dunmire hasn't tried the challenge himself, but it usually takes about 20 minutes for the average person to eat it all. If they're even able.
While the owners have pulled in some elements for former Hassies - hanging old menus on the wall and including the favorite olive burger on the current menu - they still wanted to create their own identity.
It's more modern, Dunmire said. The menu is bigger and it's homemade.
Staff has to draw people in, Dunmire said. So he's working on some events centered around the famous two-pound burger and fry eating challenge.
Eventually he wants to bring in more kitchen staff so he can be out on the main floor more.
Dunmire admittedly doesn't know the secret to success, if there even is one.
All he knows is that he loves what he does.
"It brings you up. It makes your day better," he said.
He added, "As long as you care, people see that."
Location: 12110 State Highway 210, Brainerd
Owners: Craig Dunmire and Jason Roue