Herald JournalHerald Journal, Feb. 23, 2004

Sunni's Grille open at last

By Cindy Zitzloff

Ambience, service, and great food will be the focus of the new Sunni's Grille restaurant open along Highway 12 in Howard Lake.

Owners Michael Sundt of Howard Lake, and Kelly Smith of Watertown recently opened their doors.

Sundt moved his family from Burnsville to Howard Lake.

Sundt took an interest in the restaurant business almost 30 years ago and has been in restaurant management since 1981.

Prior to Sunni's Grille opening, Sundt worked in several restaurants as either a chef or kitchen manager.

Smith has worked in the restaurant business for 20 years. Smith mainly worked as the on-site accountant at the last two places she was employed at.

Sundt and Smith have been in the restaurant business together for nearly four years now. They became acquainted when both were employed at Cafe Odyssey in the Mall of America back in 1999.

Since that time, Smith had been searching for a vacant building to launch a new restaurant business, together with Sundt.

Smith found the old Red's Restaurant for sale, and made the purchase in September of 2003 from the Strandquists. Smith and Sundt felt this location would have great potential as it was located directly on Highway 12.

As Sundt and Smith started renovating the old Red's building and transforming it into their ideal restaurant, they incurred a setback or two along the way.

In order to have the kitchen function as they needed it to, a larger custom hood system was needed and had to be ordered.

Installation and final inspection of the new system took place at the end of January, and two weeks later, Feb. 10, they were open for business.

Sundt and Smith had no intentions of the renovation taking as long as it did, but it did, and they are very pleased with the results.

A unique, down-home touch has been added to the interior of the restaurant.

Several vintage Howard Lake photos have been framed and hung on the wall, some even with local residents.

The overall atmosphere of Sunni's Grille is upbeat, but cozy at the same time.

Sundt's wife, Nicole, did most of the interior design work for Sunni's Grille.

The moderately priced menu consists of classic American favorites. dinners such as pan fried walleye, Sunni's Grille fettucinne, and baby back pork ribs are a few items of choice.

Sunni's also serve many sandwiches such as the Monte Cristo and Hawaiian chicken sandwich. They also serve pizza and many different type of appetizers.

Sunni's Grille serves beer and wine also.

"We serve killer desserts and plan to only get better," Sundt said.

"Ninety-five percent of our food is made from scratch. Kelly and I like to call our food 'eater friendly' comfort food. We felt this is something Howard Lake would appreciate," he said.

"We want to find out what everyone wants around town and want Sunni's to be a fun place to come to along with being a great experience. We want to make sure our guests are happy by serving good food with great service," both Sundt and Smith said.

Sunni's Grille offers daily senior discounts and even serves up a special birthday treat for those celebrating.

Sundt and Smith have future plans to have 'feature' nights, which would include special entrees served on certain days of the week, along with a Sunday brunch.

"So far we are getting very positive feedback," said Sundt and Smith.

Sunni's serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They are currently open from 6 a.m. - 9 p.m. Monday through Thursdays, Fridays 6 a.m. - 10 p.m., Saturdays 7 a.m. - 10 p.m. and Sundays 9 a.m. - 8 p.m. For take out service, call (320) 543-3334.

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