By Kristen Miller
COKATO, MN Three years ago, the Becker family opened its first bar and grill in Watkins, and after much success, the family decided to launch a second restaurant in Cokato.
“The overwhelming support has been fantastic,” said co-owner Robin Dockery. “We’re extraordinarily grateful for it.”
The Red Goat Bar & Grill, now in its fourth week, has had steady crowds each day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The steady flow has also brought about some growing pains for the new restaurant.
“The biggest challenge anytime you open a new place is you never know until you’re in that pressure situation, what your issues are going to be,” she explained.
“It’s been a ‘baptism by fire’ for the cooking crew, but they’re really coming together to meet that challenge,” Dockery said.
The Red Goat Bar & Grill is very much a family business, run by Derek and wife, Tia; Robin and husband, Mark; Brian and wife, Kris; and mother, Jelda.
They officially opened the doors to the Cokato restaurant May 28, which is modeled after their first restaurant in Watkins.
Also as a family, they have owned Firetrak, a manufacturing company of fire-proofing products for commercial construction, for the past 20 years.
The first restaurant began as a remodel of a former pizzeria with intentions of renting it.
The family members instead decided to remodel it the way they wanted it to be and turn it into their own bar and grill. Derek had always wanted to run a bar and grill.
“It was his baby at first,” Dockery commented.
Derek is also where the name is derived. According to his sister, the brothers wanted “goat” in the title and since Derek, who comes from a family of brunettes, happens to have a red goatee, the name seemed to work its way in.
The family joke is that as Derek ages, they will have to change the name to the Gray Goat, Dockery commented.
The idea of opening a second restaurant in Cokato came when Derek’s wife Tia, who works in Cokato, was encouraged by others in town to consider buying the former Daniel’s Family Restaurant.
After checking out the building, the family found it to be a sound layout with great potential.
“I could just see what it could be,” Dockery commented.
What they really like is that there are four distinct areas the bar, with an area for seating, as well; along with the restaurant side, and the back room. They also hope to utilize the basement someday for special events.
The building was completely remodeled this spring and includes much of their father, Duane’s (“Sal’s”) taste, particularly the use of black walnut, which can be seen throughout the interior. “[The restaurant] has a lot of my dad in it,” Dockery said, adding that Duane died a year ago from a long battle with cancer.
The bar is also a unique feature, which was built by Jeff Jacobs, “a wonderful craftsman,” according to Dockery.
“We wanted to make it as big as possible and wide enough for dining,” she noted.
As far as the menu, they have included some popular items from Watkins, along with some signature items from executive chef Tim Chandler, who comes from Kincaid’s, a well-known fine-dining establishment in St. Paul.
The Red Goat is known for its burgers, using 100 percent beef directly from the butcher at Knaus Sausage House, in Kimball.
In addition, the burgers are complimented with Cold Spring Bakery buns.
“We want to maintain the same quality that people have come to expect in Watkins,” Dockery noted.
The Red Goat also has its special haystack onions, thin strings of fried onions that can be eaten alone as an appetizer or on top of the Red Goat Burger or Red Goat Pizza.
In addition to the burgers, wraps, sandwiches, and baskets, the Red Goat prides itself on its salads, which are made with green leaf lettuce and topped with homemade croutons.
Also special to the Red Goat are its jo-jos, flat-cut potato slices with a special jo-jo coating that has been a family tradition shared with their grandmother, Dockery noted.
Currently, there are daily specials, and prime rib specials Friday and Saturday. New items will also be introduced to the menu, including special dinner entrees.
“It’s a process,” Dockery said. “It all just takes a little bit of time.”
Dockery said that the family is committed to making this a successful restaurant.
“We are constantly tweaking it to make it a better experience and have quality food served in a timely manner,” Dockery said. “We really want it to be something special for the community, and for ourselves.”
The community has been on their side, showing their support, Dockery noted. “The people are so nice . . . It feels like home.”
In addition to the 19 beers on tap, The Red Goat is working on a variety of drink specials, including a golfer’s special.
A grand opening event is planned for Saturday, July 20.
The Red Goat is open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Hours are Monday through Wednesday, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday 6 a.m. to midnight; and Sunday 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.