Restaurant Revisited: Bronk's Bar and Grill
Facing the imminent closure of their 11-year-old restaurant, Bronk's Bar and Grill, husband and wife owners, Erik and Tracy Brunkow, turned to Robert Irvine for help in saving their business. This Lake City, Minn., eatery had been serving dishes made mostly from frozen food in an out-of-date, unadorned space, but thanks to Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team, it reopened with a fresh menu and vibrant decor to match. We checked in with Erik a few months after the transformation to see how Bronk's is doing now.
Immediately after the renovation, sales at Bronk's grew significantly, doubling during weekdays and tripling on weekends. Erik says that customers have come from near and far to see and taste the changes, and everyone is wowed by the updated decor. "They say it's brighter, fresher and more open," he explains. "People are noticing our tin ceiling all of a sudden, which was there originally."
Bronk's is still serving the updated menu exclusively, and Erik notes that they're using only fresh, never-frozen ingredients. He adds that the specialty sauces that Robert created have been extremely well-received by diners. "People want us to bottle them and sell them at the store."
Since Erik has taken on full responsibility of Bronk's, he says that he's able to make decisions more quickly and easily. "I feel I have a better grasp of the whole running of the restaurant. Issues get taken care of a lot faster because I’m there all the time and I don’t have to ask Tracy for her opinion." He admits that his and Tracy's relationship is still a "work in progress," but explains that he and his family have been sure to spend quality time together on Sundays. Tracy is still working at Bronk's but only one day a week.
Reflecting on his Restaurant: Impossible experience, Erik tells us that he's especially impressed with the impact the renovation has had on the community. "Many businesses in town say that we have inspired them to take a look at their own businesses and take time out to make new changes."