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 This Lake City, Minn., eatery had been serving dishes made mostly from frozen food in an out-of-date, unadorned space, but thanks to Robert and his Restaurant: Impossible team, it reopened with a fresh menu and vibrant decor to match.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

    Hey Debra, where did you grow up gain?

  2. Guest says:

    Spoken like a true chauvinist. Her weight is irrelevant ot her skills, playboy.

  3. jme says:

    Really enjoyed this episode. Couple seemed real and appeared very grateful.

  4. Dawnskye says:

    Something I see in many of Chef Irvine's shows is that dirty, nasty, bacteria laden, frightening, evil ice machine. Not that this is on topic (if any could tell me where to place this topic, I would be happy to do so), but does anyone else order their drinks without ice when going out to a restaurant after seeing his shows? I know I do. I send back anything with ice in it! I guess I am a bit phobic?

    • catbyte says:

      The problem with that is the drink dispensers are probably just as filthy. I am not a germophobe, but I do try to buy bottled water whenever possible. I've seen some unbelievably nasty pop dispensers too, ugh!

  5. Deb says:

    We just ate at the Bronk's Bar and Grill on March 5. We were the only ones in the place and the service was still terrible. I ordered the Pepin Burger and my granddaughter ordered the turkey basil burger. I drank my pop and had to wait until the waitress came back with our food to ask for a refill. She brought back a glass of ice water! Then she dropped the top of my bun on the table and said sorry and left. I don't want to eat a bun that's been rolling around on a table that was probably cleaned with a dirty dish rag. Plus my hamburger was rare inside and my granddaughters turkey burger made her sick with a stomach ache! The best part of the experience was the decor which looked good and the french fries which were good. Won't go back there again!

  6. Hugh Jardon says:

    I'd bang her like a screen door in a hurricane!
    I love the sparkle in her eyes.

  7. Richard in Texas says:

    I agree with others that sometimes this seems more like Jerry Springer than a cooking show. But I love what Marc Summers and Robert Irvine are doing here. The last thing we need is more silly chain restaurants serving crummy food. I have nothing but admiration for people who have the courage to run a restaurant, whether out of ignorance or not. A lot of the time I actually don't tune in weekly until after the histrionics of the first 15 minutes. But it's my favorite show on this network.

    • Marjorie says:

      This is not a "cooking show". You may pick up a recipe or two along the way but that is not the purpose of the show.

  8. Texas says:

    What an idiot. Go back to the Spike network.

  9. MSHESCH says:

    Ate at Bronks a few weeks ago while visiting my mother in the hospital. The service was good and the food better. We drive through Lake City once a month and it will be our go to spot for food.

  10. Chuck says:

    My wife and I was there this evening. The house was very full. But we wait about an hour for our food. We waited a minutes at the door and then after the bar tender put us in a booth. We had another wait. When the food came it was good. My wife had the BBQ Pork Burger she though it was too big and she got the french fries they were good but there was so many of them I had the two small steaks with mushroom gravy on the steaks and mashed potatoes. But there was just too much mashed popatoes. With most of the booths full and most of the tables were full there was only two servers and the bar tender.

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