Restaurant Impossible - Bronk's Bar and Grill - CLOSED

Bronk's Bar and Grill Restaurant Impossible

In this Restaurant Impossible episode, Chef Robert Irvine visits Bronk's Bar and Grill in Lake City, Minnesota.

Bronk's Bar and Grill is owned by husband and wife team Erik and Tracy Brunkow who opened the restaurant in 2001.

They have owned the restaurant for the last 11 years and both grew up in the town.

When they opened the restaurant the locals were interested in their new venture and were very supportive.

For the first nine years business was growing year on year but in the last two years business has declined.

The number of restaurants in the area has also increased and the couple are now in $300,000 of debt.

They owe money to their parents, vendors and they owe on their mortgage and aren’t sure how much they are losing each month.

Erik keeps the truth of the finances to himself as he doesn’t think Tracy would be able to handle knowing the figures.

Erik is the cook, pays the bills and takes care of ordering the produce for the restaurant.

Tracy juggles full time teaching, waitressing at the restaurant, bartending and taking care of their children.

For the past year the couple have been spending more time at the restaurant and away from their children.

Erik is very stressed by the situation at the restaurant and Tracy doesn’t recognize him as the man she married as the restaurant is placing a big strain on their marriage.

Robert arrives and immediately notices the outdated decor and is confused as to what the restaurant is.

He sits down to speak with the owners and they tell him that they purchased the building in 1998.

At the time of the purchase it was a cafe and bar and they have kept the bar theme for the place.

The restaurant is currently in $300,000 but Erik is reluctant to speak about the finances and never speaks about it with Tracy.

The couple have been married for 15 years and they have three young, ages 10, 5 and 2.

Tracy works as a full time teacher in order to be able to pay the bills at home and they are struggling to pay the bills at the restaurant.

Robert wants to see a restaurant service so that he can see what the issues are at the restaurant.

During the service, the customers are confused by the restaurant as there is too much going on with the decor.

They are also confused about the huge menu and when Robert asks if anyone would return no one raises their hand.

The servers are rude and have a bad attitude during the service both to each other and to the owner.

Robert goes into the kitchen and sees that they are cutting corners and using a lot of frozen produce including frozen fries.

This is where they are losing money as they are much more expensive than making them from scratch as potatoes are cheap to buy.

They go through the menu together and other than salad and burgers the rest of the food is frozen food.

Despite what he has discovered in the kitchen, Erik tells Robert that he has no idea why they are failing.

Robert meets with his designer Taniya and the rest of the design team to come up with a plan for transforming the restaurant.

He asks the staff to help them empty the restaurant so that the design team can get to work.

Robert asks the staff to gather to find out why the staff had such a bad attitude during the service.

He wants to get to the bottom of it and tapes a blank piece of paper onto all of the staffs backs.

They are to write on each persons sheet of paper what they think of the person.

Some of the comments are scathing but clearing the air is needed if they are able to move forward.

It is clear from many of the comments that the issues are issues that have trickled down from poor management.

Robert speaks with Erik to talk about how he can fix his relationship with Tracy.

If they aren’t able to communicate in their relationship then they are unable to function fully as business partners.

As Eric has not been communicating with Tracy this has caused the divide between them.

Robert plans to redefine their roles in the restaurant and work on making the business and marriage work.

Robert checks in with the designers to see their progress on the transformation and he is impressed with the progress.

Before the end of the first day, Robert takes the owners to an office around the corner that he has borrowed.

He talks to them about the marriage and wants them to have a think about how things can change.

The next day, Robert arrives and checks in with the designers and is impressed with the progress that they made overnight.

Robert takes Erik and Tracy downstairs where she shows them all of the produce and food that they have in stock.

There is more than $1000 of produce and frozen products, they are overordering and must be wasting a lot as they have months of product there.

They should be ordering and stocking less than half of what they currently have in their walk in.

The food that they are ordering is also more expensive frozen food so they are wasting more money than they need to.

The cost of the products they are ordering are high but the quality is low as the frozen food could never compete with fresh.

Robert meets with the couple and the kitchen staff and reveals that he will be creating a new menu, cooking from fresh.

He will be cutting their current 80 item menu down to a menu with just 20 items.

As they currently don’t have a specialty he will be creating a range of burgers that Bronks will be known for locally.

The staff love cooking from fresh and love the taste of the new menu.

They prepare some fresh burgers to take out onto the streets to promote the restaurant.

The locals love the fresh burgers and are promise to come to the restaurant for the relaunch.

Erik shines in promoting the restaurant and his passion for the restaurant is returning with the changes that Robert is making.

Robert introduces a list of procedures that the restaurant will be operating by and asks of the staff to sign.

If they fall short of the standards in the procedures then they will be held accountable for this.

The design team have finished and the new Bronks is revealed to the owners and the staff.

Robert first reveals the new exterior sign so that the restaurant stands out a bit more to potential diners.

The restaurant has been completely transformed with new lighting, new carpeting and a new colour scheme.

On relaunch night, the customers love the new decor from the design team and enjoy the freshly cooked meals, promising to return.


What Happened Next at Bronk's Bar and Grill?

Within a few months, sales had improved significantly weekday takings doubled and earnings tripled at the weekend.

The customers loved the new decor and they were getting customers from all around the country coming to the restaurant.

Erik had taken over responsibility of the restaurant and it was running better as he was able to make changes more efficiently.

Tracy only worked at the restaurant one day a week and their relationship was still a work in progress.

They kept the majority of Robert's changes but they returned 15 customer favourites to the menu at the customers request.

Trip Advisor Reviews after Robert's visit are mixed. most customers seemed to like the food but there are criticisms of the service and of food.

Bronk's Bar and Grill closed in November 2013 posting the below on Facebook,

"Due to many unfavorable circumstances over the past couple of years, we have decided to close our doors for good effective November 4, 2013.

We will be running specials all week long on food, beer, and alcohol.

Deals will be good while supplies last. It's been one heck of a 12 1/2 year run!

So come on down this week one more time and celebrate with us as we say goodbye!"

Bronk's Bar and Grill was Restaurant Impossible Season 5 episode 3 and was aired on December 05 2012.

Click for more Restaurant Impossible Restaurants

Previous episode - Rohrer's Tavern

Next episode - Rising Sun Bistro


This post was last updated in February 2021.

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