Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Shawn Jansen
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Kerrick bar joins ranks of 'good ole 23'

 

Shawn Jansen

Although selling real estate is Tom and Jamie Jensen's passion, owning a bar "is in the blood". They have gotten the North Pine Saloon in Kerrick up and running in just a couple months.

Tom said recently his brother owns a bar in Boy River, his parents owned a couple of bars and his grandparents owned around 20 in his lifetime. As for Tom, he was involved in the start-up of the End Zone in Rutledge in 1995, purchasing and tearing down TR's Bar and revamping the Flamingo, getting it off the ground, and then selling it.

Next came the purchase of the Askov bar, known as Mickey's. He changed the name back to Ringer's, added on and sold it in 2006.

"I jumped on the ship when I met him in 2004," said Jamie, who had done a little waitressing but mostly has stuck to real estate, "so this whole thing was overwhelming for me."

The Kerrick bar has gotten a new name, North Pine Saloon, and a "facelift" with a new facade and roof line, deck for outdoor seating, along with high top tables instead of booths and redone bathrooms. The mural behind the bar remains.

The menu is changed as well, now featuring a homemade 16-inch pizza.

"We tried lots of different sauces, crusts, cheeses, etc. We believe we have come up with a good recipe that seems to be going over great," said Tom.

He said the garbage pizza seems to be outselling the other types two to one. "My wife is putting fresh peppers, onions and mushrooms on this which might be the secret."

He added that customers can call in orders for pick-up seven days a week whenever they are open. The saloon also offers a chicken wing platter and garlic cheese bread.

Operating a bar in these rural communities has its challenges, one of which, Tom said, is finding employees.

"We have a great staff," said Jamie.

"We could not do it without them, they play a crucial roll in the daily operations from cleaning, serving, making pizzas and striking up conversation with the customers," said Tom.

"He's the people person," said Jamie.

He added, "The rural location makes it hard to know how many employees you need on at any specific time." For example, he said if they served a larger menu, how would they staff that? He explained that good bartenders aren't exactly good cooks, and good cooks aren't always good bartenders. Instead, they are focusing on great bartending with a focus on the customers.

He said the revamping of the other great bars on Highway 23 seems to be bringing back the "good ole 23 run where people from all areas are traveling the beautiful road and stopping in at a variety of locations to see what they have to offer. The cabin people from the area and the ATV's and campground people have been great."

Of course, they still sell real estate. Tom said the Internet helps them be able to do lots of business right out of the bar.

"We have our laptop on at all times," he said.

As for drink specials, Tom said, "Our happy hour is seven days a week 50 cents off a drink when the train goes by. Our signature drink is the train wreck. It is Rum Chata and Jack Honey."

"Very smooth," he added.

Shawn Jansen

Tom and Jamie Jensen have opened the North Pine Saloon in Kerrick and are offering homemade 16-inch pizzas and a drink called the train wreck as their specialties. They are expanding their tap beer offerings in the next few weeks. Happy hour is whenever the train passes. Customers receive a 50 cent discount on drinks.

They are in the process of expanding to eight tap lines, which Tom hopes will be completed in two to three weeks. They want to serve microbrews and seasonal drafts.

So far the Jensens are enjoying meeting all the happy people who stop in and enjoying seeing how great the theme is going over.

They would like to thank everyone who has given them ideas, decor and help to open in such a short time.

"And I would like to thank my wife, Jamie, and daughter Emily for being so understanding in me not being at the home for supper or family time very much over the last two months. We are getting close to all that changing," said Tom.

They also thank their employees for working so hard as a team.

The North Pine Saloon is open Monday through Thursday, 12-11 p.m. (later if it's busy), Friday and Saturday 11 to 1 a.m., and Sunday 11 a.m.-11 p.m. To order take-out, call (218) 496-0778. They are on Facebook and will have a website going up in due time at http://www.northpinesaloon.com.

 

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