By Jennifer Kotila
HOWARD LAKE, MN The Jastrzebskis are “extremely excited” to have their new restaurant in Howard Lake, Trouble’s.
“We worked here when it was 6th Street Bar-B-Que, but it wasn’t ours,” said Stacie Jastrzebski. “Even when it wasn’t ours, we were excited to work here.”
Although the restaurant has been open since April 11, it is now ready for its grand opening, which will be Saturday, July 9 from 1 to 4 p.m.
“We have gotten great reviews on our food,” Neil Jastrzebski said. “We offer good food at a decent price nothing fancy, just good food.”
Neil was a heavy equipment operator for 15 years before the economy went bad; then he drove truck for a couple of years.
Due to the economy, though, driving truck was not offering him steady work either, so he became a cook at 6th Street Bar-B-Que and Grill, he said. He worked there about a year before it closed.
“I love to cook, but never wanted to do it for a living,” Neil said. “Now, I’m doing it for a living.”
He admitted it is different now, because he owns the restaurant, and has control over what is on the menu and how it is made.
Stacie had been the head waitress at 6th Street Bar-B-Que for nearly two years before it closed last October.
When that restaurant closed, the owner, Kade Klahsen, approached the Jastrzebskis about purchasing the restaurant from him.
Neil and Stacie thought it would be a great opportunity, since they were kicking around the idea of opening their own restaurant anyway, they said.
“We love it here. Howard Lake is a great town,” Stacie said. Although the Jastrzebskis live in Maple Lake, they are planning to move to Howard Lake.
The restaurant has a wide variety of food, some of it standard family restaurant choices, and some very unique choices.
Picky eaters should have no problem finding something that will soothe their appetites, while not-so-picky eaters will have a hard time deciding what to order.
Some of the more unique items on the menu are pickle chips, deep fried zucchini, Hawaiian burgers (with crushed pineapple, swiss cheese, and barbecue sauce), scorch burgers (with spicy chipotle mayo, Tabasco, jalapeños, banana peppers, and pepper jack cheese), and the Trouble’s Troubler pizza (with sausage, pepperoni, onion, mushrooms, green olives, black olives, sauerkraut, banana peppers, and bacon).
“Most of our food is made from scratch,” Stacie said. The chickens come in whole, and Neil cuts them into quarters or halves, breads them, and fries them.
Most of the sauces are also homemade, including dressings, marinara, barbecue, cocktail, and tartar sauces.
The potato chips that come with all of the sandwiches and burgers are made from scratch, sliced the long way, soaked, and then deep fried.
“6th Street had potato chips, but I perfected them,” Neil said.
Pizza dough is also made from scratch, and is used to make the pizza pillows, a famous treat many Howard Lakers remember from Bergie’s and Red’s Restaurant.
“Trudy Berg (Red’s daughter) taught me how to make the pizza and pizza pillows, using the original recipe from Red’s,” Neil said.
Since opening, Trouble’s has been a very busy place. At times, there were lines stretching out the door of people waiting for an opportunity to try the new restaurant.
Trouble’s has been very busy delivering food, as well.
Everything on the menu is delivered within about a 12-mile radius, which includes Howard Lake, Montrose, Waverly, Winsted, Cokato, and areas north of Highway 12.
There is a fee for delivery service based on how far away the delivery is, Stacie said.
Soon, there will be a variety of wines and beer on the menu for folks to enjoy with their meal.
Along with feeding their employees when on duty as an extra bonus, the Jastrzebskis also encourage them to make their own recipes that Neil will put on the menu as a special.
If people like it, he will place it on the menu as a permanent item, Neil said.
Trouble’s already has some regular customers, such as the Sideens and the Smiths, who were the first customers, and continue to come in every Wednesday.
Neil makes a point to visit with the customers if it is not too busy, saying the feedback is important, and customers really appreciate it.
Trouble’s has a Facebook page for fans on which specials are posted daily, and a website is in the works. Look for links to those sites on the Herald Journal website, www.herald-journal.com.