Restaurant Revisited: Bronk’s Bar and Grill

by in Shows, December 5th, 2012

Robert Irvine on Restaurant: ImpossibleFacing 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 This Lake City, Minn., eatery had been serving dishes made mostly from frozen food in an out-of-date, unadorned space, but thanks to Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team, it reopened with a fresh menu and vibrant decor to match.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.”

More From Restaurant Revisited:

Rohrer’s Tavern (November 28)
Poco’s on the Boulevard (November 21)
Oleander Bar and Grill (October 17)
Valley Inn (October 10)
Whistle Stop (October 3)
The Maple Tree Cafe (September 26)
Michele’s (September 19)
Paliani’s Restaurant (September 12)
Frankie’s (September 5)
Gusanoz (August 29)
Stella’s (August 8)
Italian Village (August 1)
Zandi’s (July 25)
The Main Dish (July 18)
Longbranch Steak and Seafood (July 11)
Horton’s Kids (June 13)
Pollard’s (May 30)
University Grill (May 23)
Ristorante Barolo (May 16)
Pappas (May 9)
Mama Lee’s (May 2)
Pelican Grill (April 25)
Valley View (March 14)

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Comments (141)

  1. Epic Fail says:

    Sorry, but R:I took another restaurant with history and character that only needed some clean up and to fix the food and staff and yakked all over it. Irvine and his crew's hatred of anything that's older and his recurring hatred of entertainment (the stage could have easily been renovated and had singles and duos and on weekends, bands that would have brought in customers like they do here in the Twin Cities) has gotten tiring. It's a bar and grill people, not a fine dining establishment. They fixed the food and of course people will come back.

    • Jumping Bean says:

      I thought the same thing, spend the whole night renovating one patch of floor where the stage was versus leaving the dance floor/stage and reworking the rest of the design to take advantage of another source of revenue. Place looked real large on t.v., could've even done some divider design to have that area separated for large groups, then convert to club space on weekends.

    • mike d says:

      pull your head out of the 20th century, people don't want tired old decor and ho hum food, they want upscale decor and fresh ideas coming out of the kitchen, that's what Robert did.

    • ahughes798 says:

      I agree, Epic Fail. Robert has something against live entertainment. He gets rid of it whenever he overhauls a place that features it.

  2. Kris says:

    The Bronks is still a work in progress! You can't change something overnight. But overall things have improved!!! The owners are good people and don't take the help of Robert and his crew for granite. They will slowly get the hang of things and will have themselves the restaurant they always dreamed of having!

  3. Paul M says:

    When is Robert going to drop the "Dr. Phil" act and concentrate on fixing the business only? Unless I'm not aware of his qualifications, I don't believe Robert is a certified counselor. I don't watch this show to hear about people's personal marriage issues.

    One other quick observation- anyone else think that there is something going on between Taniya and Tom?

    • mike d says:

      you can't fix the restaurant if the owners are broken.

      • George says:

        Then find restaurants where just the restaurant is broken. You know, like the original premise of the show.

        Robert as marriage counselor plays about as well as Dr. Phil as chef. It's gotten old . . .fast.

        • Heather says:

          I agree. I love the show but the marriage counselor bit has become quite old. I DVR the show and fast forward through all that bs.

        • D'Arque Bishop says:

          I don't know how many of these kinds of shows you've seen, but Restaurant Impossible is just one of many that shows that most of the time, the reason the restaurant or bar is broken is because the owners are broken. The couple's relationship in this show was damaged because of the failing restaurant, but in the end, their own problems were the root of the business's issues.

    • AlistZ says:

      Taniya and Tom?

      He must have designs on her.

    • Johnny D says:

      Go crawl into the hole you came from.

    • Sunny says:

      Surely you are a complete idiot! If the owners are dysfunctional, how can they run a properly functioning business? Have you ever worked for Crazy People?

    • HungryHippo says:

      Paul M as in Paul Moron?

    • jim says:

      nails aren't the only thing Tom has been pounding.

    • William Darling says:

      Hey Paul…..when did you get a degree in criticism? Robert doesn't have to be qualified, he gets results and that is the bottom line! And I can tell you from personal experience, it often helps to have an outside perspective which can be impossible when "if you are up to your ass in alligators, you forget the original job was to drain the swamp!" Get a life and just enjoy the results of what you see. There are probably some things we don't see, but the end does justify the means…especially with the ratio of success shown on this show!

    • tootsie b says:

      Really ? Don't understand you at all. First you DON'T want to hear about people's personal issues and right away you ask about Taniya and Tom????

    • Jennifer Schiffhauer says:

      Mr Irvine has never claimed to be any kind of counselor…..sometimes the problem is the dynamics of the people running and working in the resteraunt..It is not always as simple as cleaning up the business end…..if the issues causing the resteraunt to fail are marital related, then they have to be addressed in order to save the resteraunt….if you wish not to hear about peoples personal issues then its time for you to change the channel…..

    • Barclay Reynolds says:

      Tried four times to watch show, Irvine is a drama queen. Yes, this could be act, but since he claims to 'world class cheif' I think he is.

    • laura says:

      i dont think you're right on the fact that robert should concentrate just on the business because the truth is it would have failed if not for that.

  4. rick shelton says:

    I enjoyed the show and also enjooyed seeing the changes in the makeover ,, I wish the owners the very best ..

  5. lawnservjoe says:

    Travel from Winona saw the show. My wife and I will stop next time we head up Hwy. 61 to the Twin City's .
    All business is tough right now especially a restaurant. Good luck Bronks see you soon.

  6. scaliwag says:

    I'd like to add, when is the producer of the show going to get rid of that insultingly obnoxious laugh at the end of the show? Seriously, it's stupid.

  7. Jack/Ohio says:

    Just finished watching remake of Bronk's on my DVR ….what happened to all the frozen food? Look's like a resort town…does the population change in Lake City, MN with the seasons?
    Great Show…but it look's like another show could be created to follow up with the restaurant owners and kick them in the ass for not using all the help given to them… or find people who can manage a business…could call it Restaurant Mergers & Requisitions.
    This Blog Spot is not enough information…or by it reaction, viewers like me want to see more!

    • Kay says:

      All these small towns around the river lose a lot of people during the winter months. We have a lot of retirees that have winter homes in Arizona or Florida. Also during the summer months we have a lot of people from bigger city areas that have permanent campsites in the small towns and they bring in lots of business. We rely on all the boaters that come in and spend big money in our small businesses.

  8. Becky says:

    Someone needs to proofread these follow ups for grammatical issues – "him and his family…" should be "he and his family". I have noticed similar grammatical issues in other columns.

    • deb2125 says:

      and how about this one: keeping "there" dreams alive .. lmao smh

    • Barbara says:

      I've been a writer and editor for 40 years and I've just about given up all hope of reading anything online that has proper grammar and spelling. I'm trying to adapt but so many people are functionally illiterate and sites like this don't seem to put a premium of quality writing. Maybe it really isn't important anymore. If we understand what the person MEANS to say, perhaps it doesn't matter if the grammar is correct. At least, I'm trying to convince myself of that.

      Although I still cringe everytime I see "very unique" ..

    • @judgematty says:

      There is a grammatical error in your comment. Pot calling the kettle, black.

    • CJW says:

      Report on the restaurant you douche.

  9. Janet says:

    We were charged 25 cents extra for tarter sauce that was not on the bill but was only in the total. The waitress said it was a hidden charge. She brought a quarter and slapped it on the bill and made some comment about how it should not be the deciding factor. In what? Brought the wrong pop and seemed upset that we wanted the correct item. Food was good. Just need new wait staff and no "hidden costs". McDonalds doesn't even charge extra for tarter sauce. Wow!

  10. AllSeeingEye says:

    It seems quite a few of the makeovers have old chicks serving tables and they look frumpy. Who wants to visit a place with tired chicks serving?

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