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Mix of Pequot Lakes businesses open

Jeff O'Brien's Asian Accents recently took up residency in the space previously housing Latte Da. Travis Grimler / Echo Journal1 / 2
Nicole Traut owns The Nest, a new business in the Jack Pine Center in Pequot Lakes. Travis Grimler / Echo Journal2 / 2

At least three new businesses opened their doors in Pequot Lakes in recent months, including a Japanese furniture and décor store called Asian Accents, a clothing and décor retailer called The Nest, and a restaurant called Pequot Pub and Grill, owned by a familiar restaurateur family.

Asian Accents

This store that sells authentic Japanese furniture and décor, located in the former Latte Da space, opened the last week of October after husband and wife team Jeff O'Brien and Debbie Willcut received inventory that had been in transit from the other side of the world since August.

O'Brien and Willcut hand-selected many of the accent pieces, which include antique furniture, pottery, textiles and art work.

"We moved here from Japan and spent about 30 years in Japan," O'Brien said. "We collected a bunch of antique furniture. Most of our furniture is well over 100 years old, all handmade. We also collected pottery and special textiles from Japan. We also have original artwork from Japan. Some of it we had in our home in Japan and some we bought when we knew we were moving back and we planned on opening a store when we returned to the States."

Asian Accents will have large, antique and expensive pieces like dressers for those who want something big and valuable, or small, more affordable pottery for those who only want a couple pieces to tie a room together. The shop itself is set up with displays to show off all the pieces.

"We have textiles that have multi-purpose uses in Japan like table runners or fake flower arrangements," O'Brien said.

O'Brien said in his research that there are very few stores like his anywhere in Minnesota, including in Minneapolis where one might find specialty stores that don't have the full range of items.

The Nest

Nicole Traut and The Nest found a warm welcome in the Pequot Lakes community during a Nov. 3 grand opening. It was the day of the local block party, and Traut said business was booming.

Traut said The Nest, located on the east side of the Jack Pine Center, was a break from the ordinary for her. She worked previously in a much different career.

"This is a totally new adventure," Traut said. "I was working at a dental office handling insurance before this and had a wild idea and went with it."

Traut carries clothing, jewelry, accessories, home décor and refurbished items. She is particularly proud to carry a line of clothes titled "MN Jones," which is a clothing line run by a friend in Alexandria. Traut said her prices are designed to please.

"I think I have really reasonable prices," Traut says. "I don't mark my items up a ton. Not even to the suggested retail on a lot of them in hopes to always have new inventory and fun things coming in. I think that sets me apart, especially in accessories."

Pequot Pub and Grill

Even though it has a new name, Pequot Pub and Grill is still known locally by some as Pestello's, and that's OK with the owners, the Pestello family.

No strangers to restaurant ownership in Pequot Lakes, the Pestello family decided to reopen the eatery off Patriot Avenue in the center of town to serve standard classic diner fare, pub steaks and menu items suited to dietary needs.

"I have a lot of gluten-free options and keto diet menu items," Curtis Pestello said. "I have a keto-diet pizza crust that is very good and tastes like regular pizza crust."

Curtis expects that patrons will be excited about the classic items on the menu and weekly specials, including drive-in style flat top burgers, hot beef sandwiches, homemade soup, prime rib, fried chicken, steaks and (by popular demand) spaghetti and meatballs.

"I've been looking forward to it," Pestello said.

Pestello's was open from 2002-16 before closing. The building was leased to Barajas Mexican restaurant until it closed earlier this year.