Best of the Brainerd Lakes Magazine 2021

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The People Have Voted.

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fter a one-year break because of COVID-19, the Best of the Brainerd Lakes contest has returned for 2021 after many requests from area businesses and residents. The large response from the voters displays a passion to honor top businesses in our lakes area that prides itself on individual and business achievements. Area businesses work hard to earn the support of not only the local residents, but also the hundreds of thousands of annual visitors to our lakes area. We hope our contest continues to encourage area businesses to produce high quality products while delivering great customer service. And over the years anyone could make the claim for being the area’s best. But, thanks to the first “Best of” contest sponsored by the Brainerd Dispatch/Echo Journal, the voters have spoken. And today we announce the winners from almost 75,000 online votes cast to determine the top three finishers in 90 categories. We appreciate everyone’s votes as the feedback helped us recognize the area’s best in 2021. Congratulations to all of the nominees and especially to the top three finishers in each category. Enjoy reading about the 2021 Best of the Brainerd Lakes winners. Pete Mohs Publisher

8 | Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021





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/ Brainerd in Nisswa, outside of Zaiser's Biff Ulm stands has owned since 1987. aa store his family the store from a Minnesot ed to a trendy Ulm transform and toy shop focused souvenir department store. independent

Kelly Humphrey

/ Brainerd Dispatch

Steve Kohls my center and wife his daughter ibby to be outside Borash y Oct  to able home hursda to be home and 19 after returning Feeling weak but relieved irus ordeal with COVIDtalks about his disease caused by the coronav  Dave Borash related to the Center in Brainerd chool teacher Brainerd igh ed with severe complications ealth-t osephs edical e was hospitali care he received at Essentia the commended

me after BHS teacher ho COVID-19 ith w U IC 5 days in

oto tn on o t t / Brainerd Dispatch itt  it o itt  om nort o i rnt rorty t  in tir on o ri  i untin  ri d o   iri nd rn ri rry  murdr o tir on rry Chelsey Perkins


IND A LOOK BEH TERRY BRISK LITTLE FALLS’ MURDER OF By Chelsey Perkins Community Editor Little Falls Virgil and he last day Brisk saw Frances “Babe” he helped their son alive, boulder unusual load a giant, a to turn into they wished their own future headstone for know Brisk didn’t graves. Terry first stone would the massive ents into monum be chiseled after his himself memorializing days later. murder two in marbled slabs Two striking hues streaked reddish-gray bear Terry’s veins black with burial marking his ip’s name — one Prairie Townsh y, site in Belle Parish Cemeter Holy Family the overlooking and the other of forest where small patch -old the 41-year someone shot


tinuing her Daughter con from disease own recovery By Chelsey Perkins Community Editor alone my Borash sat the in in her vehicle hospital parking g repeatin lot for hours, ng she to herself somethi to wanted desperately ing will be believe: Everyth

d livestrea County boar ncing to stay videoconfere to adapt to a socially



readying to s reopen doorms,

/ Virgil and Babe


Submitted photo od io ri inudin yr on ri ottom it i miy  yrod ont rry ri ntr td on rry od rn ri t yr nd yrod i rimont or ri   i m ri oto  tn  tn i  ni  murdrd

cials environment, By Chelsey Perkins distanced bimonthCommunity Editor the regular Coun- ly meeting of commisvia As Crow Wing to unlock its sioners was available county prepares for public livestream on the past campus doors , May 17, ty’s website and access Monday access gs were stored. expanded digital meet- recordin s typicalboard Other meeting to county most or all ed amid the ly involving howevings establish continue commissioners, recorded pandemic will er, were neither indefinitely. A16 forced 9 Page Before COVID-1 CROW WING: ent officounty governm

ance orable fund bal Finding a favs could impact Brainerd budget

against Charges filed fund in drive-by Excess library man sought r Pillager shooting neaAuthorities conducted a the day Brainerd A 22-year-old search warrant townrun for 10 at a Baxter man, on the by law after Hines was days and wantedf o r c e - home where en to be. Multiple for believed assisted Cass ment agencies a drive-by County with the search , were staged shooting warrant and e for was located at the townhom to and charged about five hours, only the not there. with learn he was for Hines incident. The search May The Cass continued and on Hines and Cass C o u n - 6, Crow Wing located Office was county deputies at a ty Sheriff’s Alan Gene and arrested Hines e searching for residenc was wanted rural Brainerd Hines, who Page A17 26 shootSHOOTING: for an April near Pillager. ing incident

library sys12 regional ta, proBourke By Theresa tems in Minneso service to t ritr viding library resiBrainerd The city of more than 130,000 i, Cass, not have to dents in Beltram will likely Hubbar d money next levy any Crow Wing, counties. for its public year to pay and Wadena will system’s services library, but Much of the normal. comes from continue as ami funding local Kitchig nts from The System allotme ents. Regional Library money in governm Wing excess Crow has Both , board of its fund balance Koep County and the city Mary signatomembe r City Brainerd are joint powtold the Brainerd , May 3, ries to the Council Monday nt governwell agreeme bode ers system, which could budget. ing the library / Brainerd Dispatch for the city’s Theresa Bourke A16 mi syst rinrd ui The Kitchiga one of BUDGET: Page  mmr o is Couni on ry o rit tem, or KRLS, t rinrd City

udt irry ord ttu y  t ord nni in print, go to brainerd it by coverage not found as the paper. Find updates and in-depth the same format digital stories in For real-time news daily, lets you access homepage. The e-paper, available the top right of the e-paper button at clicking the yellow INSIDE TODAY

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10 | Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021 MILLER LAKE $389,900

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SUNSET LAKE $415,000

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Scaring up a Halloween costume can be affordable or pricey

y / Brainerd

Kelly Humphre

a selection of ski shows o Baxter elli ankow y Oct  in orld hursda


masks at

arty couple weeks “But the first fine. r. The inside were stronge Somewhere of October St. were about BD Video brainerddisp Essentia Health- Center By Frank Lee numbers there, it was last year, Joseph’s Medical ta riter equal to what nurses and tly surrates. in Brainerd, very pleasan s as usual for high unemployment to her a so I was Submitted photo It’s not busines Mankowsdoctors tended is usually at that,” this in Baxter. husband, Hallowe en for the prised week, of Party World Borash posted 53-year-old good time worried. As “This last lly breathing on Dave very said. narrative a ki all been frightfu labored “I’ve in celwhose cerphoto along with ce with the snow and of suffering specializing owner, it’s ski course, with it’s certhe eighth day a business you retailer of his experienFacebook COVID-19 s. But Mankow kind of thing, a time that that his not of ebration on surfrom severe 19 slower.” tainly COVIDno longer at night because wondered if the October with tainly been a little bit  Oct  symptoms could his own on actually sleep ity,” prole uesday to leave missing out of snow, coupled may not a possibil able games and adequately enrich His that’s just Page A14 ski prise Borash was it’s kind of cases, try to do it days later COVID-19 my kids. So Kelli Mankow HALLOWEEN: I’ll pivot and blood with oxygen. out would say co-own er the hospital two time.” topped to slow. s during rising crazy — people work. But By Chelsey Perkins better next temperature every of doing busines ic and cause foot traffic and a lot of said Community Editor retail’s degrees to have a irus pandem above 101 seeing the — Biff Ulm In the beginning the coronav came to retail condition by joint ached NISSWA — surround- I . muscle and e and facial life a little bit.” Ulm grew up of mistakes exhausted, body languag eurship — simpler makes a lot come so thoroughly of the people by entrepren Beach, chills and Those mistakeshe said, ed expressions them and in West Palm racked with What’s inside years coughs, the with the territory, to take first his family who are treating ves. And I The first couple body-shaking Florida, before lakes area. the of being willing things. leave his bed of them themselof that.” spent returning new settled in the strength to any and Kay were to the level his father risks and try hy as a couldn’t do parents Mark store softhe evaded him. arriving “One philosop really, His the Mille Lacs left it, Ulm said, before systems and . I’m not Not long after that’s Ulm owned technology nt with “I was terrified said in Garbusiness of Oct. $50,000 would to experime be on the way Amy to me is that Lake Curio Shop on the night also began ware. The other really core and layout. going to lie,” and more could ing new Brainerd OK, and we rison, where they fish merchandise 21. “I are Oct. d capital projects be allocated to purchas few 20-year Bourke a 17, day, and mistakes seen Wednes By Theresa if the propose geography to learn from opened a meat The store’s the school tiny and other transit as much as just need High School an Ulms then ta riter from the isn’t passed, / Brainerd Dispatch downplayed school buses they’re just Borash was market. The in additions Kelly Humphrey kids and my original ta- levy . them, and teacher Dave n vehicles. e Ulm said purchased Zaiser’s and footprint of the I could to my and transpor in Nisswa. district reported in an the intensiv an extra portatio 65% of the district’s Technology opportunity,” I went home the Ulm property ballot admitted to Ulm while seat- 1987 from Rose Zaiser own building, resulting friends, but s are on the About ay, July 29, on The levy requests summer , chest X-ray scary in late July next 10 the state. plan that Ulm This tion upgrade park in eventually went on to care unit. A work space Wednesd cried. It was Schools on $500,000 a year for the eclectic floor comes from traditional mystery grab and cabin into the back Public The there. his both 0 funding ed in the pocket throughin be outfitting ta school $450,00 for Aitkin — trends, Whole- brought spent time sacks filled revealed fluid stages seven gift shops because I couldn’t what ta. Of that sum, downtown Nisswa. average Minneso sections. His longtime partner brand and the modern. provide bags — paper of toys for hear eneration out northern Minneso purchase, The Election Day. and years. more defined s lungs, the early moccasins. The second-g And I couldn’t enrollment go toward the stab at retail sale gift markets selec- with a selection is differtriggered Minnetonka To offer customer and Zaiser’s retail were saying Ulm took a Declining one state would people who ggling of pneumonia owner of his own goal? they won’t be able : Page A13 the doctors ent, support $4.99. Each “You’ll see a mind-bo dwindling no caused by 73-year main- management on see how he items gy, AITKIN for instance only rule is stores, they rememsubsequent years replacem boutique, a by the disease buying the Main of technolo and I couldn’t ent, and the in big-box come in, and - tion of goods, the past few irus. He after college, the doctors maintenance Atlanta spans peeking. It’s a nod to nosshop to find nt stores ber when their grandpar stay of Nisswa’s funding over the novel coronav corridor, — one in looked, or how Turtle gift is 20 cuts in Aitkin, bigger departme project of his they were in and bought three city blocks and Street shoppingthe trans- Painted led to staffing the sidewalk or even online. talgia and a ents came said looked when pair of just down A11 he But in today’s father’s, whom Ulm You can that has has overseen their first stories tall. his parents’ from Zaiser’s. Although BORASH: Page buyso in “We love stuff looking at him. and now nice- them formation of great joy in even more somebody’s Minneso- loved the store and enjoyed — I want to say it Minnetonkas, over c, cre- found their world, tell a lot about for business from for the store 19 that has unsan- they’re bringingwe hear light of the pandemi souvenir and running it, his passion — digi- ing toys in COVIDand because estab- ly turning to ta-themed in, to s increase are indeyears. led the designs, ators phy quirky, ta Departphotogra , itized those grandkid Ulm said. s like Etsy and toy shop to in recent weeks, the Minneso nt store. tal platform another business sometimes you see those stories,” with most cases least one to the an “R-ratto entice buy- Along came 2020 the pendent departme d his lishing y became like in a departsuffered at ment of Health, to early and according There’s also Instagram of dovetaile which eventuall he likes to featuring Ulm designs type of He’s also Lacs Counrecorded since ent, saw When the realities clear their late 70s ers. Ulm said ed” section, divining what successful enough, gave ment store, that just loss. In Mille the in all those health departm us became knack for s suc- in just looks merchandise with irrever- find makers who are ic began. The y rate to buy into person between that his wife store thing, and it give coronavir the pandem ty, seven residentdisease, 90s. Ulm tapped from ed a And we customers want Enough, said, and self-dep- starting out, ones who a 10-15% positivitof Oct. at 58. in Wadena — the this spring, deaths it’s clip art. ent sayings Nice ty for This New him a choice week and those ages of 60-64 total now stands County cumbed to the chose like Minnesota humor. who are like recating during the into his propensi find complic aback to charities g business or the studio. He a Mille Lacs each record- Todd County want people and account eco- experimentation to of naughty COVID- 19 an explodin Just Crow Wing County and with three 15 years, he g artisg real artists, who take into 4-10. includes a line who was shopnorth-cenalso a COVIDTodd and , them, He the studio. For weddings, employin . people testing them resident among report currently producin called keep get Morrison not ages and to tions concerns to County did ed in ways stickers socks, as Ulm some for logical tans were photographed more, his we’re trying . All of encour County expeold. A total week, while A12 out for local tic, snarky huge seller said. And the tral Minneso ping. He employed 70-74 years 19 death this keeps an eye Wadena counties Todd which are a here,” Ulm COVID-19: Page es. portraits and day since tools as many camping mugs. in the sevwere age Mille Lacs, enough room the store. signific ant and compani with a bent of the same done nothreported every of 18 deaths There isn’t Aitkin, Cass, those who died , offerrienced a R. It’s artists room for pandemic has even more work infused week, and rnalism. even a fraction region have Todd and according to retail locations There’s still “We say rated R, it’s and Monday this en-county toward photojou parents here to list Morrison, 60 or older, ing but inspire al “up north” ing curbside pickup his Zaiser’s carries, probably not truly since Oct. 23, was no SS C1 Ulm — he’s counties each But the tradition In 2012, expect, d of what Friday, Oct. appointment, been reported creativity in kitchenware, probably more PG-13. ABBY A7 BUSINE shopping by possibility of asked if he’d be intereste increase Wadena to wares the tourists ranging from RS B5 DEAR ’s exploring the fair warna nearly 50% includes a toy rearranging the store exception. marryB1 OUTDOO over the helm jewelry and children give people though. This includ- 16, lly flow and another business of per- in taking , home we “If you go in IED D1 SPORTS Friday’s toll curated specifica improve traffic to footwear ing,” he said. A6 CLASSIF concepts be section

ta Nice and Minneso Face of Zaiser’s -taking success in risk Enough finds

funds l levy seeks Aitkin capita transportation gy, for technolo

Chelsey Perkins area Community Editor dly week in off dea -19 deaths cap Brainerd Dispatch

3 more COVID

books at Zaiser’s. will in mind. ing the space, departin the spirit wasn’t runsection, there shopping with with cabin living on vaca- create more shoes decor and yes, “The store was, that sonal gift are word or two, from fitting boxes a la ning to its fullest poten- of what Zaiser’s once “When kids a four letter pock- ing in kind subscription s to mostly d souveapproached $20 in their they’re used for customer other Minnesota-theme tial. And they toys. and of way.” tion, Stitch Fix. rather buy ice. But in joy is when me and said, ‘Hey, would nirs and inexpensive they would harmless sort “My biggest can play self-serv ce of of a numer- et, things they put some- you have interest in being Shoes are a centerpie Ulm employs H28 down four than one we actually offerings, fea- ous routes to track said. “It was and again at the cabin, RED DOOR: Page here?’” Ulm store’s with thing out there, ph- the store’s brands said. fitting the worst that’s my best year photogra higher-end thing,” Ulm … what’s the the latest ly. But turing Pikolinos, Birken- items Ulm, and financial happen?” as like such e, aesthetic ically, going to going to fail, you know what, stocks and a signatur 45, said. “I’m an oppor- I’m like, out on soccer just I’m missing and that’s then and tunity to learn,



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Best Breakfast

The Iron Waffle Coffee Co.


8785 Interlachen Rd., Nisswa (218) 963-6317 2nd The Skillet 3rd 371 Diner

Best Brewery/Distillery Roundhouse Brewery

23836 Smiley Rd., Nisswa (218) 963-2739 2nd Jack Pine Brewery 3rd 5rocks Distilling Co

Best Bakery

Pine River Bakery

215 Barclay Ave, Pine River (218) 587-1121 2nd Knotty Pine Bakery 3rd U.G.L.Y. Cheesecake Company

Best Bar

Dunmire’s Bar & Grill

12110 MN-210, Brainerd (218) 454-0625 2nd b.Merri @ The Woods 3rd Shep’s on 6th 3rd Mission Tavern

Best Bloody Mary

Yesterday’s Gone Bar & Grill 219 S 9th St, Brainerd (218) 824-2050 2nd bMerri @ The Woods 3rd CC’s Bar

Best Burger

Dunmire’s Bar & Grill

12110 MN-210, Brainerd (218) 454-0625 2nd Boulder Tap House 3rd b.Merri @ The Woods

Best Coffee Shop

Coco Moon Coffee Bar & Gifts

601 Laurel St, Brainerd (218) 825-7955 Coco Moon on Facebook 2nd Loco Express 3rd StoneHouse Coffee & Roastery

Best Festival/Event Lakes Jam

5523 Birchdale Rd, Brainerd (218) 640-3785 2nd Crow Wing County Fair 3rd City of Lights, Nisswa

Best Fine Dining

Dunmire’s Bar & Grill 12110 MN-210, Brainerd (218) 454-0625 2nd Prairie Bay 3rd bMerri Gastro Pub

Best Golf Course

The Classic at Madden’s Golf Course 11672 Co Hwy 18 SW, Brainerd (218) 829-2811 2nd Eagles Landing 3rd The Legacy

Best Lakeside Destination Ernie’s on Gull

10424 Squaw Point Rd., Brainerd (218) 829-3918 2nd Zorbaz on Gull 3rd Bar Harbor Supper Club

Best Liquor Store

Super One Liquors

7895 Excelsior Rd, Baxter (218) 828-0256 2nd Cash Wise Baxter/Brainerd 3rd Westside Liquor 3rd Barstock Liquor

Best Live Entertainment/Performing Arts Lakes Jam

5523 Birchdale Rd, Brainerd (218) 640-3785 2nd Just for Kix 3rd Music General Dance Studio

Best Local Celebrity Paul Bunyan

17553 MN-18, Brainerd (218) 764-2524 2nd Ken Thomas 3rd Brainerd Rapper

14 | Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021

Best Outdoor Dining

Best Crosby/Ironton Restaurant

10424 Squaw Point Rd., Brainerd (218) 829-3918 2nd bMerri Gastro Pub 3rd Dunmire’s Bar & Grill

30 W Main St, Crosby (218) 545-5000 2nd Iron Range Eatery 3rd The Bridge

Ernie’s on Gull

Rafferty’s Pizza

Best Pizza

Best Crosslake Restaurant

(218) 545-5000 (218) 963-3023 (218) 692-5505 (218) 829-5804 2nd Big Jays Pizza Arcade 3rd Dough Bros

34650 Co Rd. 3, Crosslake (218) 692-4800 2nd Mission Tavern 3rd Rafferty’s Pizza



Best Nisswa/Lakeshore Restaurant Main Street Ale House

Best Place for Summer Family Fun

25559 Main St, Nisswa (218) 961-6724 2nd Rafferty’s Pizza 3rd Bar Harbor Supper Club

Safari North Zoo

8493 MN-371, Brainerd (218) 454-1662 2nd Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf 3rd Wildwedge Mini Golf & Maze

Best Place for Winter Family Fun Ski Gull

9898 Co Rd 77 SW, Nisswa (218) 963-4353 2nd Northland Arboretum 3rd Big Jays Pizza Arcade

Best Radio Station WJJY 106.7

13225 Dogwood Drive, Baxter (218) 828-1244 2nd B93.3 3rd 104.3 The Pulse

Best Ribs

Dunmire’s Bar & Grill 12110 MN-210, Brainerd (218) 454-0625 2nd bMerri Gastro Pub 3rd JR’s No 19

Best Steakhouse

Dunmire’s Bar & Grill

12110 MN-210, Brainerd (218) 454-0625 2nd The Fort Steakhouse 3rd bMerri Gastro Pub

Best Weddings/Party Venue

Best Pequot Lakes/Breezy Point Restaurant Lucky’s Tavern

31020 Government Dr., Pequot Lakes (218) 568-4177 Lucky’s Tavern on Facebook 2nd Norway Ridge 3rd Tasty Pizza North

Northern Pacific Center

1511 Northern Pacific Rd, Brainerd (218) 833-2357 2nd The Woods - Gather on 3 3rd Grand View Lodge

Best Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings

14643 Edgewood Dr N Suite 100, Baxter (218) 828-8900 2nd bMerri Gastro Pub 3rd Mission Tavern

Best Aitkin/Deerwood Restaurant The Deerstand

24188 Mohs St, Deerwood (218) 534-9253 2nd Block North Brew Pub 3rd Lonesome Pine

Best Baxter Restaurant El Tequila

7399 Garrison Rd, Baxter (218) 454-0618 2nd Prairie Bay 3rd Poncho & Lefty’s

Best Brainerd Restaurant Dunmire’s Bar & Grill 12110 MN-210, Brainerd (218) 454-0625 2nd bMerri Gastro Pub 3rd Ernie’s on Gull

Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021 | 15


Best Car Dealership

Best Grocery Store

112 Front St. N., Suite D, Box 770, Pine River (218) 820-3159 2nd Kimber Creek Ford 3rd Dondelinger Chevrolet Cadillac

7895 Excelsior Rd, Baxter (218) 828-2160 2nd Cub - Brainerd 3rd Cub - Baxter

Sweet Cars

Best Fitness Center

Best Hardware Store

217 Washington Street, Brainerd (218) 851-1618 2nd Anytime Fitness - Nisswa 3rd Brainerd Family YMCA

214 W Washington Street, Brainerd (218) 829-5476 2nd Carlson Hardware 3rd Menards

Black Arrow Martial Arts

Best Bank/Credit Union

Mid MN Federal Credit Union

7 area locations (218) 829-0371 2nd First National Bank North 3rd Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union

Best Bicycle Shop Easy Riders

415 Washington Street, Brainerd (218) 829-5516 2nd Muddy Bikes 3rd Cykel

Best Boutique

The Olde Open Window

602 Laurel St, Brainerd (218) 454-3338 theoldeopenwindow Facebook 2nd The Wild Daisy 3rd Bells & Blossoms Boutique

Best Camper/RV Dealer Pleasureland RV

17395 MN-371, Brainerd (218) 828-1709 2nd Gander Outdoors 3rd Hilltop Camper & RV

16 | Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021

Super One Foods

Brainerd Ace Hardware

Best Flooring/Carpet Store

Best Home Furnishing Store

16948 MN-371, Brainerd (218) 825-0279 2nd Hudrlik Design Studio 3rd MCI Carpet

724 Laurel St, Brainerd (218) 829-2849 2nd Christmas Point Wild Rice Co 3rd 371 Furniture

Tyke’s Carpet Sales

Best Florist

Brainerd Floral

316 Washington St, Brainerd (218) 829-3333 2nd The Wild Daisy 3rd Petals & Beans

Best Garden Store/Nursery/ Greenhouse

Landsburg’s Landscape Nursery

16460 Highway 371 N., Brainerd (218) 829-5519 2nd Erickson’s Greenhouse 3rd Copper Creek Garden Center & Landscape

Bob & Frans Factory Direct

Best Homebuilder

Best Manufacturing Compay

11360 MN-371BUS, Brainerd (218) 829-8529 2nd Nor-Son Custom Builders 3rd Baratto Brothers

23103 Co Rd. 3, Merrifield (218) 765-3111 2nd Barrett Petfood Innovations 3rd Pequot Tool & Manufacturing

Hy-Tec Construction

Best Hotel/Motel

Arrowwood Lodge at Brainerd Lakes 6967 Lake Forest Rd., Baxter (218) 822-5634 2nd Americinn Pequot Lakes 3rd Holiday Inn

Best Jeweler

E.L. Menk Jewelers

623 Laurel Street, Brainerd (218) 829-7266 2nd Merritt Jewelers 3rd Birgit’s Jewelers

Best Large Company to Work For (50+) Clow Stamping Company

23103 Co Rd. 3, Merrifield (218) 765-3111 2nd Cuyuna Regional Medical Center 3rd Costco

Best Magazine

Lake Country Journal

1022 Madison Street, Brainerd (218) 828-6424 2nd Her Voice 3rd MN Home

Clow Stamping Company

Best Meat Selection/Market or Butcher Shop Von Hanson Meats of Baxter 15811 Audubon Way, Baxter (218) 822-2888 2nd Thielen Meats - Pierz 3rd Thielen Meats - Little Falls

Best Motorsports Dealer Brothers Motorsports

7915 MN 210, Baxter (218) 829-6656 2nd Power Lodge 3rd SPR Motorsports

Best Newspaper

Brainerd Dispatch

506 James Street, Brainerd (218) 829-4705 2nd Pine & Lakes Echo Journal 3rd Crosby Ironton Courier

Best Nonprofit Organization Smiles for Jake 2nd Mid-Minnesota Women’s Center Inc 3rd Northland Arboretum

Best Photographer

Chelsie Elizabeth Photography

(218) 537-7392 2nd Steve Kohls - Brainerd Dispatch 3rd Ashley Thiel Photography

Best Real Estate Company

Chad Schwendeman Real Estate GroupEXIT Lakes Realty Premier 7153 Forthun Rd., S. Suide 120, Baxter (218) 851-8550 2nd Woods to Water 3rd Edina Realty 3rd Realty Group

Best Resort

Grand View Lodge Golf Resort & Spa

23521 Nokomis Avenue, Nisswa (218) 963-2234 2nd Heaths Resort 3rd Madden’s on Gull

Best School

Pillager Public School

323 2nd St E, Pillager (218) 746-2113 2nd Crosby Ironton 3rd Pine River-Backus Schools

Best Small Company to Work for (Under 50) Elite TItle & Escrow

13954 Cypress Dr, Ste 200, Baxter 218-829-4450 2nd Mickey’s Pizza & Subs 3rd Mikes Tree Company

Best Sporting Goods/Outdoor Store Fleet Farm

14114 Dellwood Drive N., Baxter (218) 829-1565 2nd Dick’s Sporting Goods 3rd Tutt’s Bait and Tackle

Best Thrift Store Common Goods

16227 MN-371, Brainerd (218) 824-0923 2nd The Mercantile 3rd The Mustard Seed Thrift & Gifts

Best Writer/Journalist Jeremy Millsop

Brainerd Dispatch Sports Editor 2nd Chelsey Perkins

Brainerd Dispatch Community Editor

3rd Julie Jo Larson

Local Author

Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021 | 17

Best Chirpractic Office Lakes Chiropractic


413 S 6th Street, Brainerd (218) 828-4418 2nd Sazama Chiropractic 3rd Family Chiropractic

Best Cosmetic/Esthetic Clinic Design Dentistry

7674 Design Rd., Baxter (218) 828-4816 2nd Cascade Medspa 3rd Dermatology Professionals

Best Customer Service

Best Elder Care Services

13954 Cypress Dr., Suite 200, Baxter 218-829-4450 2nd Lake Shore Heating and Cooling 3rd Anytime Fitness - Nisswa

13954 Cypress Dr. Suite 102, Baxter (218) 838-4543 2nd Knute Nelson 3rd Heartwood Senior Living

Elite Title & Escrow

Advantage PCA & Senior Care

Best Dental Office

Best Electrical

14213 Golf Course Dr N #100, Baxter (218) 829-4511 2nd Design Dentistry 3rd Lake Country Dental

8296 Industrial Park Rd S, Baxter (218) 828-0250 2nd Holden Electric 3rd Electric Etc

Lakes Dental Care

Jim’s Electric Co. Inc.

Best Duct Cleaning

Best Eye Clinic

31147 Front St, Pequot Lakes (218) 568-8338 2nd Minnesota Cleaning Solutions

7870 Excelsior Rd, Baxter (218) 828-9545 2nd Brainerd Eyecare Center 3rd Great River Eye Clinic

Optimum Cleaning LLC

Midwest Family Eye Center

Best Finanacial Advisor/Company Edward Jones

10 area offices 2nd Nisswa Tax Service 3rd Seth Jackson - Edward Jones

Best Auto Care

Shannon’s Auto Body

13540 Ironwood Drive, Brainerd (218) 829-6764 2nd Corral Auto Repair 3rd Dondelinger Chevrolet Cadillac

Best Carpet/Floor Cleaner Chem Dry of the Lakes

17021 Commercial Park Rd., Brainerd (218) 828-4320 2nd CJ’s Chem Dry 3rd Optimum Cleaning LLC

Best Gutter Company

Advantage Seamless Gutters

1006 Wright St., Suite 1, Brainerd (218) 270-2663 2nd Lake Country Seamless Gutters 3rd Rainy Day Gutters

Best Hair Salon

Belle Cheveux Salon

24719 Hazelwood Drive, Nisswa (218) 961-0095 2nd MeraMi Looks 3rd Meraki Hair Salon

Best Child Care Facility

Best Heating & Air Conditioning Company

602 Oak Street, Brainerd (218) 829-4767 2nd Stepping Stones Childcare Learning Ctr 3rd Little Huskies

1775 Dandelion Lane SW, Brainerd (218) 828-0330 2nd Lake Shore Heating and Cooling 3rd Thelen Heating & Roofing

Brainerd YMCA

18 | Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021

Jibec Heating & Cooling

Best Nail Salon DN Nails

13508 Elmwood Dr Suite 1, Baxter (218) 454-0850 DN Nails on Facebook 2nd LeAnn Nails 3rd Sweet Victory Nails

Best Paint Store Hirshfield’s

7447 Clearwater Rd N, Baxter (218) 824-0642 2nd Sherwin Williams 3rd Ace Hardware - Brainerd

Best Pet Grooming Best Landscaping/Lawn Care Cut Right Lawn Care

1170 127th St SW, Brainerd (218) 851-9443 Cut Right Lawn Care on Facebook 2nd Landsburg’s Landscape Nursery 3rd LMI Lawncare

Best Law Firm

The Raboin & Francis Law Firm 7343 Woida Rd., Baxter (218) 828-9211 2nd Breene & Pearson Ltd 3rd Severson Portor Law 3rd Ed Shaw Law

Best Medical Facliity

Cuyuna Regional Medical Center

Crosby & Baxter (218) 546-7000 2nd Essentia Health St Joseph’s Med Center 3rd Lakewood Health Systems

Lakeland Veterinary Hospital 7372 Woida Rd., Baxter (218) 829-1709 2nd Animal Care Center 3rd Pampered Pets

Best Pharmacy

Best Roofing Company

108 S. 6th St., Brainerd 2nd Thrifty White Pharmacy 3rd Cub Pharmacy - Brainerd

1006 Wright St., Suite 3, Brainerd (218) 270-0009 2nd Thelen Heating & Roofing 3rd FIKS-CON Roofing

GuildePoint Pharmacy

Best Plumber

Pike Plumbing & Heating

830 Brook Street, Brainerd (218) 829-4332 2nd Pine Country Pumbing and Heating 3rd Randy’s Plumbing

Best Real Estate Agent

Chad Schwendeman Real Estate Group 7153 Forthun Rd. S., Suite 120, Baxter (218) 851-8550 2nd Sue Erholtz 3rd Antje Anderson

Neumann Construction

Best Tanning Salon

Caribbean Beach Tanning Salon 208 W. Washington St., Brainerd (218) 833-TANS 2nd The Notorius T.A.N. 3rd River Fitness

Best Tattoo Shop

One Life Tattoo Studio

611 Washington Street, Brainerd (218) 828-6500 2nd Red at Night 3rd Tony Powers Designs

Best Title Company Elite Title & Escrow

13954 Cypress Dr., Suite 200, Baxter (218) 829-4450 2nd Cygneture Title Solutions 3rd Atlas Title & Abstract

Best Tree Company

Mikes Tree Company

5906 Pine Beach Rd., Brainerd (218) 825-8207 2nd Ben The Tree Guy 3rd Nic’s Works LLC

Best Veterinarian Office

Lakeland Veterinary Hospital 7372 Woida Rd N, Baxter (218) 829-1709 2nd Garrison Animal Hospital 3rd Animal Care Center

Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021 | 19


215 Barclay Ave, Pine River • (218) 587-2545


risty Miller strives for baked goods just like Grandma used to make. After taking over Pine River Bakery in January, Miller and her family have been welcomed into the community with open arms. “It’s so great that we have been embraced by the Pine River community since we took over,” she said. “Pine River has just been amazing and our customers have been amazing.” Among the bakery’s specialty items are doughnuts and bread made fresh every day and homemade soups available for lunch. Customer service and high-quality products are the two keys for Miller and her family to run a successful bakery. They try each item before setting it out for customers to ensure everything tastes good and like it’s straight from Grandma’s kitchen.



Treatment of Eye Infections, Injuries & Glaucoma Consultations for Laser and Cataract Surgery Eye Exams • Contact Lenses • Eye Wear

Thank you

for Making us the #1 Eyecare Clinic in the Lakes Area Two Times Dr. Jackie McCall | 7870 Excelsior Rd., Baxter | Brainerd Office: 218.828.9545 • 877.338.3957 20 | Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021



rowing up in a family of restaurateurs it was only fitting for Chris Dunmire to one day have a restaurant of his own. Chris knew he could turn his love for food and bringing people together into something special and a way to make a difference. Being proud of his name and where he came from, the name Dunmire’s was chosen. A little over a year in business — he’s made a few waves and built a reputation for himself. Serving up classic American dishes perfected with a Dunmire’s twist, there is something for everyone. From craft burgers to hardy meals like Mom used to make and everything in between. Each dish is made with the intent to put a smile on your face. Leave full and satisfied with a to-go box to enjoy the leftovers later. When dining with Dunmire’s, you’re not just another customer. They want to give you a full experience from the second you walk in to the moment you leave. You’ll often see Chris make his rounds to personally greet and thank his customers. It’s important that you come in feeling like you belong. They want you to have a place you call home. A place like the show “Cheers,” where everyone knows your name. Come celebrate your birthday, anniversary or anything special — Dunmire’s wants to celebrate with you. They are one big family. Their goal is for you to feel like there is always a seat at Dunmire’s with your name on it. The community is their No. 1 priority. They are always looking for ways to pay

#1 Best Motorsports Dealer 3 Years in a Row!

RIDE ON!!! Thank you to all who took the time to vote for us! We pride ourselves in excellent customer service & satisfaction.

it forward and make a difference big or small. Sports sponsorships, food drives, benefits and proceed donations are just a few ways they stay involved. They believe they can make a difference in the community with their food not just by donations from food sold, but by giving people something to remember — a place to laugh and have conversation over good food and drinks. Food brings people together and they want Dunmire’s to continue to be a reason friends and family gather. Food pushes differences aside and makes one appreciate the little things in life. Put your cell phone down and connect. Everyone knows memories are always made at the dinner table. Always remember — team work makes the dream work.

8194 Fairview Rd Baxter, MN 56401 218-829-6656 Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021 | 21


219 S 9th St, Brainerd (218) 824-2050


esterday’s Gone, Brainerd’s Classic Rock Bar, originated in 2003 on Front Street in Brainerd. The name Yesterday’s Gone comes from the Fleetwood Mac song titled “Don’t Stop.” In 2010, they moved into the former Moose Club building at 219 South Ninth Street. They then evolved into Yesterday’s Gone, Brainerd’s Hometown Bar & Grill. Other than offering the option of a “Bob’s Horseradish Pickle” about 10 years ago, the Bloody Marys haven’t changed in 18 years and have become a local favorite. They would like to thank all of the Yesterday’s Gone friends for their continuous love and support. All Beaver, Paula and the Yesterday Gone’s team want is to see you smile.

BEST BREAKFAST THE IRON WAFFLE COFFEE CO. 8785 Interlachen Rd., Nisswa • (218) 963-6317


he Iron Waffle was voted Best Breakfast Place in the Brainerd lakes area thanks to all our wonderful and loyal customers! Thank you for voting for us! We’re honored! The Iron Waffle opened in June 2015. It was the vision of owners Stacy Stranne and Jeremiah Duvall who first tried a Liege waffle from a food truck in Denver. They loved them and started seeking out the waffles any chance they could. When Stacy was presented an opportunity to open a small business in a building next to the Historical Sherwood Forest, she presented the idea of a coffee and waffle shop, featuring the Liege waffle (which is a richer, denser, sweeter and chewier waffle.) The Iron Waffle was born. Items on our menu range from savory options like the breakfast sandwich, the Full Monte, and the Pigs and Gravy Waffle, to sweet options like the Peanut Butter Cup, the Nisswa Turtle and the S`Mores Waffle (sweet ones are served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream). You can also build your own and put whatever fruit and toppings you want on your waffle. Our coffee is freshly roasted at our second location out in Steamboat Springs, Colo. 22 | Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021

• Guestrooms with separate living room area and sofa sleeper • Premier suites featuring everything from a cinema suite to loft suites • Complimentary breakfast each morning • 30,000 sq. ft. indoor waterpark is largest in Brainerd area • Indoor/ Outdoor hot tub/ Fitness center • Gold Mine video arcade and game room • Sand Volleyball Court , Children’s Play Ground and Yard Games • Flexible meeting and banquet space for up to 300 people

Voted the #1 Best Hotel/Motel

(877) 687-5634

BEST BREWERY/DISTILLERY ROUNDHOUSE BREWERY 1551 Northern Pacific Rd., Brainerd • (218) 454-2739


oundhouse Brewery was born of the idea that we wanted to create not just an impressive lineup of craft beers, but an amazing craft brewery experience. What began in Downtown Brainerd’s historic Northern Pacific Center in a 4,000-square-foot taproom and production facility has expanded to a 14,000-square-foot entertainment complex located in Nisswa on Highway 371. We


Thank You! 11


have carried our brand and connection to our area’s history into a larger facility and expanded our offerings to include food from the Dining Car, a private event center called Union Station and axe throwing in the Wreck Room. Perhaps our greatest attraction is our huge outdoor patio and “Keep On Chuggin’” live music stage. What you will always get when you visit Roundhouse is a memorable experience. Our staff is knowledgeable and engaging, eager to serve you a quality product and


to teach you about our story and brews. Our taproom events provide a variety of offerings to keep you and your whole family entertained. Our menu is creative and fresh and evolving constantly to offer you food with a local flare. Thank you for choosing Roundhouse Brewery as the No. 1 Brewery in the Brainerd lakes area for the three years the contest has been held. Stop in and see why.


Voted the Brainerd Lakes Area’s Best Local Writer/Journalist! GIRLS LACROSSE

Brainerd defeats Big Lake in regular season finale

Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Friends and competitors Pequot Lakes’ Tyler Seeling (left) and Staples-Motley’’s Beck Erholtz watch C-I/ Aitkin’s Frank Meyer’s drive Thursday, May 27, during the Mid-Minn Golf Championship at The Vintage in Staples.


BIG LAKE — Breya Sawyer scored four goals and Avery Mulholland followed with three as Brainerd finished the regular season with a 9-1 win over Big Lake Thursday, May 27. Sawyer Mulholland The Warriors led 6-0 ular season with a 6-7 after the first half. Brynne Folden and record. Big Lake 0 1 — 1 Mercedes Engstrom Brainerd 6 3 — 9 Overall: BRD 6-7. Next: Brainerd at St. each added a goal. Cloud in Section 8 Playos 6 p.m. TuesBrainerd ended the reg- day, June 1.

Beck Erholtz fends off Seeling to win Mid-Minn

24 | Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021

GOLF: Page 14

Minnesota has won 6 of last 7 games By Betsy Helfand St. Paul Pioneer Press ST. PAUL — Tyler Duffey sensed things starting to change last Friday. The Twins had landed in Cleveland early that morning after a redeye flight from Los Angeles and his teammates were running on adrenaline. Duffey, who was actually suspended for that game, watched from afar as his teammates walloped Cleveland 10-0, thanks to a nine-run fourth inning and a scoreless six-inning outing from pitcher Randy Dobnak, who will start again on Friday when the Twins welcome the Royals into town. “Everyone kind of looks at each other and you just know, ‘Yeah, we’re all tired. We all feel terrible. Let’s play baseball,’ ” Duffey said. “And ultimately that’s what we’re here to do, and I think sometimes you

need to take the thinking out of it. … I think sometimes taking the brain out of the way and just letting the body take over, that works, and I think we’re hitting that good stride right now.” While the exact moment things started to shift for the Twins (20-29) is hard to pin down, and answers vary from person to person, the Twins have been filled with optimism of late after winning their past four games and six of their past seven. Manager Rocco Baldelli couldn’t keep it to just one thing when asked what he was most encouraged by over the past week — it’s starters going out there and pitching deeper into games, getting the team through an extra inning. It’s the bullpen stepping up. It’s the offense simplifying things and getting big hits when the team needs them.








2019 2021


Are the 20-29 Twins hitting their stride?

a en isp ted by the Brainerd D



more aggressively. It was good to finally start making some putts.” Despite wanting to beat each other, the two have formed a tight bond and have benefited from watching the other’s game. “It’s nice to have somebody to compete against,” Erholtz said. “In the past, it was Brady Raph (of Pine River-Backus) that pushed me to get better. Now, Tyler brings that new atmosphere. He’s a quiet guy like me, who doesn’t say much, but he wants to throttle you deep down inside. We’re both like that. We’re silent killers. He’s got game and it’s good to see that we’re going to have more good players coming in here. “It also forces our team to play better as a whole. Pequot has pushed us all year long.” Seeling has learned when to play more aggressively by watching Erholtz. “He helps me so much with my course management,” Seeling said. “He will take risks in the right spots. He knows his way around

Jordan Johnson / USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Twins second baseman Jorge Polanco (11) reacts with catcher Mitch Garver (8) after hitting a solo home run during the second inning Tuesday, May 25, against the Baltimore Orioles at Target Field.


improved to 3-under after a birdie 3 on the 10th hole. A bogey on the 12th hole dropped Erholtz into a tie with Seeling at 2-under. The senior rebounded with birdies on holes 13, 15 and 18 to pull away. “My driver was the club I felt the most confident stepping up on the tee with,” Erholtz said. “There were a couple of errant wedges here and there. That’s what led to the bogey on 16. Six birdies, you know that’s kind of my game.” Seeling shot even par on the front, but birdies on 10 and 12 had him at 2-under through 12. He had a shot at birdie on the par 5 16th, but misfired on a chip to settle with par. His approach on 18 also ended up short. Aside from those two shots, Seeling was content with his round. “I’ll take it,” Seeling said. “Hole three and four kind of beat me up a little bit and so I put the driver away after those holes. I was hitting 3-wood mostly and it just kind of worked out. It was awesome to play a little

courses and that’s really helped. “It’s been really fun because I’ve probably played with him seven or eight times this year. It’s just fun playing with one of your buddies.” For most of the MidMinn season, Frank Meyer has been the third player in the Erholtz-Seeling group. The Crosby-Ironton/ Aitkin junior has enjoyed the front-row seat. “It’s really fun to watch them compete,” Meyer said. “Tyler has really put in a lot of work over the summer and he’s gotten a lot better. They are just both all-around solid players. “They are really level-headed kids. I’ve played with a few guys that just aren’t like that and they don’t have the consistency.” Meyer shot an 88 to place 11th Thursday and would like nothing more than to drive the ball like his playing partners. “I’m pretty crooked off the tee right now so I’d like to hit it a little straighter as they do,” Meyer said. “They just have a lot of distance. I don’t know any high school golfers that hit farther than they do.” When asked what part of Seeling’s game Erholtz would steal he joked everything.


Individual: Beck Erholtz shot 68 for medalist and the overall Mid-Minn Conference champion. Team: With 148 total points, the Staples-Motley Cardinals collected the team championship Next: Crosby-Ironton/Aitkin in Section 7-2A final at Giants Ridge Tuesday, June 1; Pequot Lakes, Staples-Motley in S-M Invite at Cragun’s Legacy Courses 9 a.m. Tuesday, June 1, Pine River-Backus in Section 6-1A Tournament at Perham June 7-8, Wadena-Deer Creek in Section 8-2A Tournament.


Staples ake no mistake, Beck Erholtz and Tyler Seeling want nothing more than to beat the other player. They’ve battled each other 12 times this season prior to the Mid-Minn Conference championship Thursday, May 27, at The Vintage at Staples. Of the previous 12 meetings, either Seeling or Erholtz came away as medalist 10 times. In nine of those tournaments, the other player was the runnerup. Thursday marked the 13th meeting between Erholtz, a senior at Staples-Motley, and Seeling, a junior at Pequot Lakes. And yet again it was a first and second finish among the two. This time, Erholtz defended his home course with a 4-under 68 to win the event and claim the Mid-Minn individual title. Seeling was second with a 2-under 70. Erholtz’s 68 combined with a third-place 76 from Adam Oberlander and 86s from Grant Bestland, Isaiah Schultz and Peyton Mithun led the Cardinals to the team win as well as the season-long team title. Erholtz finished with six birdies, including two on the front helping him to a 2-under 33 through nine holes. He


By Jeremy Millsop Sports Editor


Jeremy Millsop Sports Editor

BEST COFFEE SHOP COCO MOON COFFEE BAR & GIFTS 601 Laurel St, Brainerd • (218) 825-7955 Coco Moon on Facebook


oco Moon coffee shop of Brainerd finds itself the favorite among lakes area voters. Owner Lorie Brown said the hometown feel and good coffee is what keeps patrons coming back, along with a relaxed, safe atmosphere and an amazing staff. A bright and colorful array of artwork adorns the booths and walls of the shop — much of it by Brainerd artist Tony Powers — and along one wall, the work of a variety of other local artists is on display. It’s more than just coffee available at Coco Moon. Customers can also purchase a delicious variety of baked goods and other treats, including cheesecake, quiche, brownies, monster cookies, scones, bars, bagels, biscotti and truffles. As for those who helped hoist Coco Moon to the top in Best of the Brainerd Lakes, Lorie said, “Thank you so very much. I could not have done it without you.”




2019 2021






a en isp ted by the Brainerd D












a en isp ted by the Brainerd D


Voted The Best Hardware Store in the Brainerd Lakes Area! 214 W Washington St, Brainerd, MN 56401 (218) 829-5476 M-F 7:30AM TO 6PM • SAT 8AM-4PM • SUN 9AM-4PM

Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021 | 25



akes Jam was established in 2013 and is set at Brainerd International Raceway as a two-day country and rock music festival. In 2021, they had 28 bands performing over four days. Over the years, the ownership group recognized the value of the venue and its ability to transform Lakes Jam into “More Than A Music Festival!” The addition of watercross, drifting, lawn mower racing, poker and bags tournaments gave it a special allure not found elsewhere. Combine this with the best camping facilities in the Midwest and 12 condos where attendees can enjoy the festival from their deck, there is no event in the world quite like Lakes Jam.They feel Lakes Jam was voted No. 1 not only for the uniqueness of the event, but even more so due to the focus on customers and offering them a better experience every year and top-notch customer support.

Voted one of the TOP 3

Real Estate Agents in the Brainerd Lakes Area in 2019 & 2021

Thank you!

I have been truly blessed with amazing clients! If you are considering buying or selling, I would love to meet with you.

Sue Erholtz REALTOR®

13794 Bluestrem Ct Baxter, MN 56425 26 | Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021

Cell: 218-330-9210

BEST GOLF COURSE THE CLASSIC AT MADDEN'S GOLF COURSE 11672 Co Hwy 18 SW, Brainerd • (218) 829-2811


e are honored to be recognized as the Best Golf Course in the Best of the Brainerd Lakes contest. The Classic at Madden’s has the great honor of being recognized as the 62nd Best Golf Course in America by Golf Digest. Golf Digest has such a scientific and thorough approach to their rating pro-

cess that they truly narrow this down to the ‘best of the best.’ The Classic’s rating truly separates it from other courses. Every hole is unique. Every inch of the golf course was thoughtfully designed. The course flows very naturally with the land through lakes, streams and mature oaks as if it were carved out of the woods. The flow of the course and separation between holes and no homes on the course gives the golfer a feeling that

they are the only ones on the course. The course has a strong reputation for being meticulously manicured to the highest standards every day. The addition of the professional caddie program in recent years has elevated the golfer experience, consistent with that of the top courses in the country. Thank you to the voters for recognizing The Classic and for the local support from the Brainerd lakes area.



hen carpenter Ernie Ritari and his family moved to Squaw Point from Brainerd in 1917, they made their way through jack pine and hazel bush to get there. Back then the east side of Gull Lake was just a gravel road — a half day's ride by

horseback from Brainerd. Now Ernie’s was voted No. 1 Best Lakeside and Outdoor dining destination because of the amazing food and views of beautiful Gull Lake. Ernie’s has outdoor seating for over 200 people and each one with a gorgeous view. Today Ernie’s is owned and operated by Chris and Mike Foy.

We offer a wide variety of services:

• Sewn-in hair extensions • Nail services • Permanent makeup • Tiny tattoos • Cosmetic Services • All hair services

Accepting new clients by appointment. We are also looking to add stylists to our team! We are an independent based salon and each person books their own appointments.

Contact us at 218-454-0622 or via MeraMi Looks on Facebook or Instagram to book an appointment with one of our booth renters.

Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021 | 27


7895 Excelsior Rd, Baxter • (218) 828-0256


uper One Liquor and the Miner family would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our customers for your patronage and support in the Best of the Brainerd Lakes competition. We opened our liquor store in June of 2015 building on the relationships and loyalty of customers established by Super One Foods for over three decades. When we say “come for the service, leave with the savings” we are giving you our commitment of outstanding customer service every day as well as our best pricing. Our store boasts over 52 doors of craft, import and domestic beer, one of the best selections of wines and spirits, barrel selected bourbons and scotches, and the latest in market trends and collectible crafted gifts. All this selection would mean nothing if we didn’t have the best and most dedicated staff to serve our customers. We are fortunate to be a vibrant supporter to organizations within the Brainerd lakes community and value the spirit of giving from our customers. Thank you again for voting us Best of the Brainerd Lakes.

The Olde Open Window Inspiration for Your Home, Body & Soul Featuring:

Vintage Inspired Clothing, Accessories, Locally Handmade Items for you and your home featuring Ellenby Handmade soap and Jewelry, 1803 Soy Candles & Melts, Shoes & Boots, Locally Handcrafted & Seasonal Items, Gift Shop

Open Monday - Friday 11am - 5pm and Saturday 10am - 4pm

604 Laurel St Brainerd, MN 56401 • (218) 454-3338 28 | Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021

BEST PIZZA AND BEST CROSBY/ IRONTON RESTAURANT RAFFERTY'S 14136 Baxter Drive, Brainerd • (218) 829-5804

BEST LOCAL CELEBRITY PAUL BUNYAN 17553 MN-18, Brainerd (218) 764-2524


couldn’t believe it when Babe told me the news that I’ve been voted the Best Local Celebrity in the Brainerd lakes area for the third time. It is such an honor. I’ve been in this neck of the woods for almost 60 years and I still love this lakes area and to find I’m still thought of as the No. 1 local celebrity among all the people who make this area a great place to live, warms this old lumberjack’s big heart and especially this year when Brainerd is celebrating 150 years itself. Babe and I continue to greet new friends as I’ve done for generations. It never gets old seeing the shock and smiles on the young faces when I call their names out loud when they visit me at my home at Paul Bunyan Land, 10 miles east of Brainerd on County Road 18. A family tradition passed down through the generations, thousands of locals and tourists visit me every summer, sitting on my boot and getting selfies taken with me. My image and namesake is found throughout the lakes area from Paul Bunyan State Trail to the outline of my boot prints to mark my former home in the Kohl’s parking lot to my statue at the Brainerd Chamber’s Hwy. 371 Welcome Center. Others may claim me as their hometown hero, but the Brainerd area is where my heart is. A big thank you to everyone who voted for me again this year. Babe and I may celebrate with some big flapjacks.


uring the past 40 years, we have seen many changes in the community. Rafferty's itself has been a part of that change. We have grown from one location to five in the Westgate Mall, Nisswa, Crosslake, Delivery/Take N Bake in Brainerd, and most recently Crosby. Even with all the changes Rafferty's hasn't changed all that much. We still begin our day making our dough, mixing our signature sauce, grating our cheese and slicing and dicing our vegetables. Although our menu has seen some changes, many pizzas and sandwiches have been on the menu since day one, with Rafferty's Finest being our No. 1 seller and a new addition several years ago — the Veggie Supreme — which comes in a close second. The new favorite is the Feisty Pig, which has quickly become a once-aweek must-have for many of our guests. We want to say thank you for voting us your favorite pizza. We are truly grateful for your support.

The people have spoken and we couldn’t be more honored to be voted the

BEST GUTTER COMPANY in the Brainerd Lakes Area

THANK YOU FOR VOTING US #1 FOR THE 3RD TIME IN A ROW! It’s a pleasure to serve the Brainerd Lakes and surrounding areas We have the BEST team to provide you the BEST possible customer service! “EXPERIENCE THE ADVANTAGE”

1006 Wright Street Brainerd, MN 56401

218-270-5560 Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021 | 29

BEST PLACE FOR SUMMER FAMILY FUN SAFARI NORTH ZOO 8493 MN-371, Brainerd • (218) 454-1662


or the last eight years, Safari North Wildlife Park has been a family-friendly summer destination in the lakes area. “It’s really humbling,” owner Kevin Vogel said. “We really appreciate it more than what people might think, and it’s really a great honor.” Safari North offers a wildlife park with exotic animals, a petting zoo, play area and plenty of other summertime attractions for those of all ages. “If you’re 2 years old or 82 years old, there’s something out there for everyone,” said Vogel, who owns Safari North with wife, Kelly. Among the park’s most popular attractions are those allowing visitors to interact with the animals, like giraffe feeding, camel rides and the parakeet encounter. Safari North is typically open from Mother’s Day weekend through the last weekend in September. “Sincerely, thanks to every single person who voted for us,” Vogel said. “We really, really appreciate it.”


Dr. Mike O’Day

Dr. Jay Lang

Dr. Mike Zauhar

218-828-4418 413 South 6th St., Brainerd, MN 56401 30 | Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021


9898 Co Rd 77 SW, Nisswa (218) 963-4353


13225 Dogwood Drive, Baxter • (218) 828-1244


e are excited to receive first place in Best Place for Winter Family Fun. We had a great season and we were excited to get so many new skiers and families out on the hill. This is a big part of our mission, which is to provide an affordable outdoor recreation area for youth and families in central Minnesota. The atmosphere and community aspect of Mount Ski Gull made it a gathering place last winter because people knew they were able to be outside and be as safe as they needed to be. We are continuing to use last year as a starting point to grow forward and continue to expand the offerings that we have. In the last three years, we’ve been able to completely revamp our tubing hill. We’re expanding our bunny hill carpet and putting in a new septic system. The recent addition of a Colorado yurt is giving us more space to grow. Mount Ski Gull employs two year-round and 70 seasonal employees.


ne of the six radio stations in the Brainerd lakes area owned by Hubbard Broadcasting was named the 2021 Best Radio Station. 106.7 — “WJJY … playing today’s best variety” — was given the prestigious honor. “We are flattered,” General Manager Jeff Hilborn of the Brainerd market said. “I feel it is a reflection on our commitment to the community. One of the things that is very high on our list is to serve the community. We do this by helping our nonprofits and by helping our civic leaders by getting their word out and to

be able to communicate to the community what they are after and what their needs are.” WJJY provides its listeners with the latest news, sports and weather. Community service is in its DNA. The radio station has been awarded the National Association of Broadcasters’ Crystal Award for exceptional public service in 2001, 2003 and 2007. Hubbard Broadcasting, Inc. is an American television and radio broadcasting corporation based in Minneapolis-St. Paul started by Stanley E. Hubbard in 1923. WJJY began in 1979.

SAFARI NORTH Thank You For Making Us

#1 IN THE BEST SUMMERTIME FAMILY FUN PLACE!!! Look forward to seeing you again in 2022 -

We have lots of new additions coming your way!!!

8493 Hwy 371, Brainerd, MN 56401

2 Miles North of the Welcome Center, or about 5 Miles South of Brainerd on 371

218-454-1662 • Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021 | 31

BEST WEDDINGS/PARTY VENUE NORTHERN PACIFIC CENTER 1511 Northern Pacific Rd, Brainerd • (218) 833-2357


he historic railroad district makes an incredible setting for some of the most beautiful weddings you will find anywhere. Mike and Sharon Higgins purchased the property three years ago and have propelled the wedding experience for our guests. With new suites for brides and grooms, a furniture showroom, and our own on-site catering, all the offerings are here to make that special day the very best it can be. Couples work directly with Grace Eberhardt, our wedding venue director, who does an amazing job from the initial tour to the big day, to make our couples feel special and ensure an experience of a lifetime. We want to thank our entire team for this honor as it takes every one of them to produce such spectacular weddings on the property. Thanks to all of those who voted for us and we will continue to bring so many more experiences to the Northern Pacific Center.


14643 Edgewood Dr N Suite 100, Baxter • (218) 828-8900


he chain, with a location in Baxter, is best known for Buffalo-style chicken wings along with over a dozen sauces, as well as a complement of other items such as chicken tenders and legs. Buffalo Wild Wings’ menu also features appetizers, burgers, tacos, salads, and desserts, along with beer, wine and other beverages. They are known for their famous “Blazin Wing Challenge.” They challenge customers to eat 12 of their hottest wings in under 6 minutes. The restaurant features an open layout with a bar area and patio seating flanked by over 50 televisions and media screens. Starting in 2016, the new Buffalo Wild Wings were being built to follow a layout that gives the guests the feeling as if they were actually in a sports stadium. Buffalo Wild Wings was founded in 1982 by Jim Disbrow and Scott Lowery. Lowery’s parents had become Disbrow’s guardians as they were his ice skating coaches. After Disbrow had finished judging an amateur figure skating competition at Kent State University, the pair met up to get some Buffalo-style chicken wings to eat. Failing to find any restaurant serving them, they decided to open their own restaurant serving wings. For the first location, they selected a location near Ohio State University. 32 | Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021

BEST AITKIN/DEERWOOD RESTAURANT THE DEERSTAND 24188 Mohs St, Deerwood • (218) 534-9253



7399 Garrison Rd, Baxter • (218) 454-0618

l Tequila Mexican Restaurant in Baxter owner/manager Pedro Unzueta said his business has the combination of three keys to success — great service, location and food. “We like to make everything homemade and fresh daily,” said Unzueta, whose restaurant was voted best Mexican Restaurant for the third time. “And we’re nice to our customers — that’s very important.” Unzueta said El Tequila also has an ideal location near the busy intersection of Hwy. 371 and Glory Road S., in Baxter, where they moved almost two years ago after 11 years on Audubon Way (north edge of Baxter). “This location is incredible. The visibility is amazing,” Unzueta said. “We remodeled and painted when we were closed (for COVID-19 during parts of 2020). The community also supported us with to-go orders (during COVID-19).” The burrito and chimichanga are the top menu items at El Tequila. The burrito comes with a choice of chicken, beef or shrimp, wrapped up with vegetables, rice and beans and topped with white cheese sauce. The chimichanga is a fried burrito, available with chicken or beef, and served with cheese sauce on top. They also offer desserts. But El Tequila also offers a diverse menu, according to Unzueta, with choices of steaks, burgers and a kids menu.


ust south of the railroad tracks on County Highway 6 in Deerwood sits The Deerstand, open seven days a week for bar service and restaurant dining. Shane and Jenny Miles opened the establishment in 2012 and are surprised, humbled and proud to be named the No. 1 Aitkin/Deerwood Restaurant in 2021. Shane attributes the success and popularity to having something for everyone — a traditional family dining setting upstairs and a lively bar area downstairs. At the Deerstand, the ribs are always tender, the salad bar is always open and the white cheddar cheese curds are always freshly made to order — never frozen — and served with a raspberry jalapeño dipping sauce. For every kid who comes in the restaurant, Shane gives them a cookie and thanks them for bringing their parents out to eat. “I want the community to thrive, so I do the best I can to make sure that happens. We have a great staff — even through COVID, I was able to hold on to all but two of my staff members, and that was stellar for me. I was very proud that my staff came back in full force and said, ‘Hey, let’s go to work,’” Shane said. “Through COVID, the community was stellar. I couldn’t have asked for a better community. They gave us lots of pickup orders, used us as their off-sale site. They were there for us. They were very generous, and I’m just trying to pay it forward.”

We cannot thank you enough for voting us the #1 Grocery Store in the Brainerd Lakes Area. We are proud to be a part of this community. 7895 Excelsior Rd, Baxter, MN • (218) 828-2160 Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021 | 33

BEST CROSSLAKE RESTAURANT MAUCIERI'S 34650 Co Rd. 3, Crosslake • (218) 692-4800


Thank you for making us #1 3 Years in a Row #1





rosslake might not be known for its Italian population, but it stands out when it comes to Italian food. Maucieri’s Italian Bistro, Bar and Deli put it on the map, and it’s more than just locals taking notice. Lakes area voters ranked the 16-year-old business first among all Crosslake options, naming it Best Crosslake Restaurant. Maucieri’s is a family-owned and operated restaurant featuring homemade recipes passed down through generations of the Maucieri family. Among favorite dishes are Tony’s famous spaghetti and meatballs, creamy fettuccine Alfredo, delicious stuffed shells and freshly sliced antipasto plates. The famous "gravy," or red sauce, is a recipe from Tony Maucieri Sr.'s grandmother. Tony Sr. made the gravy fresh every day when he was alive, a task passed down to his children. Only family has access to the recipe. Maucieri’s is warm, open and inviting. The relaxed atmosphere and family-friendly dining experience draws people into its doors. Maucieri’s knows how to keep its customers coming back for more. "Thank you to the voters and all our patrons for their acknowledgement and support. As always, we continue our commitment to Tony Sr.'s legacy by providing a little taste of Italy to the lakes area."



2019 2021



a en isp ted by the Brainerd D


24719 Hazelwood Dr, Nisswa 218.961.0095 34 | Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021



ain Street Ale House in Nisswa was started in 2018 by brothers Mike and Chris Foy. The brothers both went to Nisswa Elementary School and always wanted to be able to invest in the town they love. Main Street has 30 beers always on tap as well as a unique rotating menu that has something for everyone. The building has a modern lodge feel with tributes to the history of Nisswa throughout the spacious interior. On a warm day people cool down with a craft cocktail on our large patio that is situated right on Main Street.

Thank you to our caregivers, clients/families and our community for voting us Best of the Best in Eldercare - we are truly honored!


We have experienced Caregivers to meet your Home Care needs or you can choose a friend or family member. Parents of minors and spouses can now be paid Caregivers! LICENSED, BONDED AND INSURED


13954 Cypress Dr. Ste. 102, Baxter, MN 56425 Private Pay, Medicaid & Major Insurance Plans accepted Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021 | 35










Voted #1 Best Auto Care

B #1

a en isp ted by the Brainerd D


CHOOSE SHANNON’S AUTO BODY FOR COLLISION REPAIR IN BRAINERD, MN & BEYOND. We are proud to provide service to customers across Aitkin County, Cass County, and Crow Wing County. • • • • • • • •

Shannon’s Auto Body has provided auto body repair in Brainerd, MN since 1996. We go above and beyond to make sure you receive the repair services you deserve. We can repair vehicles of every make and model. Our company is an I-CAR Gold Class Member, ASE Certified, and Sikkens Waterborne Certified. Our team is committed to 100% customer satisfaction.


13540 Ironwood Drive Brainerd, MN 56401


Monday - Friday 8am-5pm


Shannon’s Auto Body

An Example of Excellence By Sue Smith-Grier

Some people are lucky enough to know what they want to be or do when they grow up and that dream comes to fruition. Some people have a penchant for excellence and it encompasses all they do. Some people have a heart for others and that gives them an edge in life. At Shannon’s Auto Body it all comes together creating a customer-centric, thriving business. Shannon Christian has worked since 1996 to establish an auto body shop that is known for its care of the customer, dedication to excellence and commitment to exceptional service. With over 26 years of operation, this local business has offered services to the Brainerd lakes area and beyond. With his wife, Amie Christian, and a growing number of dedicated employees they have developed a second to none collision repair business.

and strong focus on advanced diagnostic equipment.” Technicians must stay up on date on researching new procedures, training on new processes and paying attention to the most minute details. Each manufacturer has different requirements and procedures to repair that specific model correctly. This is far different from years ago when you could make repairs with what was available in your toolbox.

explain those repairs to the customers in such a way that it makes sense. Shannon takes pride in always remembering the vehicle owner is the customer and that is who they need to take care of. Educating the customer on why a certain procedure should be done in a particular way can make a huge difference. For example, everyone appreciates the fact that auto glass companies will come to where you are Overcoming pandemic challenges repair to replace your glass. What you may not be The pandemic has touched every aspect of aware of is that newer cars may have sensors life in America and throughout the world, even or cameras that require calibrations or repairs when it comes to auto body repairs. People still after replacing a windshield. Also, replacing a need to have repairs made even though they windshield in a controlled indoor environment may not be traveling to and from the workplace is better. There is less chance of dirt, debris or every day. Accidents still happen. weather affecting the setting of the window Shannon’s Auto Body personnel follow COVID seal. Simple repairs may not be as simple as guidelines to keep customers and staff safe. you may think and the technicians at Shannon’s Vehicles are sanitized to the best of their ability Auto Body can explain why. Keeping up with the times when they come in and go out of the repair Another big advantage of bringing your Auto repairs after accidents are not as process, protecting not only the customer, but vehicle to Shannon’s is the fact that they straightforward as they used to be. Back in the their staff as well. The work on vehicles is still provide rental cars onsite. You won’t be day auto body shops fixed dents and dings hands-on even though face to face encounters stranded at home while repairs are being and replaced parts that could not be restored. with clientele is limited. The biggest challenge made on your own vehicle. This is particularly Today’s vehicles have sensors and parts within comes with insurance companies. “Educating important for so many in the Brainerd lakes parts that are monitored by internal computers. insurance adjusters is one of the most area who do not live in town and those The Advanced Driving Assist Systems in newer challenging aspects of the business since the who do not have other people to rely on for vehicles need specialized care, equipment and pandemic. Technology is advancing; we are transportation. training to be repaired properly. They must be doing all that we can to keep up.” When reputation precedes you calibrated after collisions to ensure they work Many of the adjusters are working from Shannon’s Auto Body is a thriving business as they should for the safety of the passengers. home, have limited training and do not fully through word of mouth referrals. Their Having a car repaired today is not just about understand the work needing to be done customer base continues to grow as the making it look good again; it also needs to be on the vehicles. Transactions are remote reputation of the company spreads further safe. Not just safe in terms of replacing the and mobile with few in-person meetings. and further. Satisfied customers share their parts, but also where sensors and computer “You don’t know what you don’t know,” says experience with others which leads to more driven mechanisms are concerned. Automotive Shannon. “We still have to physically work satisfied customers. The company is known technology today incorporates computers on the vehicles and communicate those for their commitment to quality service and giving warnings and even making decisions requirements to the adjusters. That’s 95% of for the driver. The technicians at Shannon’s the industry. Many of them are set doing things attention to detail, two vital components of a customer-centric enterprise. Auto Body must stay informed and current one way and they don’t understand the new Amie and Shannon have worked tirelessly on training as auto technology advances with changes. Their concern is generally trying to to create a business that is customer oriented, each new car model. save on the cost of the claim, where we do focusing on the needs of the customer. things by the procedures to ensure a safe and The importance of continuing has paid off with a business that has quality repair. Relaying that over email, phone, It knowledgeable staff, is dependable with their education virtually can be a challenge. It was so much service, provides high quality service and Cars used to be simple in their design. The easier to explain when the insurance had a exceptional customer satisfaction. oldest generation may talk about hanging representative actually come and look at the If you break a leg or an arm you want to make out with parents and grandparents making vehicle and discuss the repairs.” sure the doctor working on you will set the car repairs with whatever tools and materials Customer care bones correctly so you can function normally. were available. Nowadays, car repair is not so Any business desiring to thrive knows that When your car gets damaged, you want an simple. The technicians at Shannon’s work to auto body shop that will ensure it looks good excelling in customer care is a key component keep up with all the training and equipment and functions safely. of success. Shannon’s Auto Body has that needed to keep today’s cars safe on the road. Shannon’s Auto Body will take care of you, aspect of the business mastered. Technicians “We spend a lot of time on education and repair your vehicle properly and ensure it is as training staff in-house,” said Shannon. “Training are knowledgeable about the repairs needed safe as it was designed to be. on the latest procedures, newest equipment on the various vehicles and they know how to


BEST PEQUOT LAKES/ BREEZY POINT RESTAURANT LUCKY'S TAVERN 31020 Government Dr., Pequot Lakes (218) 568-4177 Lucky’s Tavern on Facebook


hank you to all our customers for choosing to make Lucky’s Tavern the No. 1 Pequot Lakes restaurant three years in a row! Being in business for almost seven years now we continue to strive to serve quality, homemade food for an affordable price for all to enjoy! Serving a lunch and dinner menu seven days a week with daily specials keeps our loyal customers coming back on a regular basis. Our meat raffles and Bingo nights bring customers in for an evening of drinks, food and fun. And to our hard working, dedicated employees, Lucky’s would not be where we are today without you. So to every customer and employee, we appreciate each and every one of you! Thank you all, Beau and Amy Hanson


erving more member owners than ever — now topping 52,000 — the mission of Mid Minnesota Federal Credit Union (MMFCU) is to improve the financial well-being of members and the community. “Having the community vote MMFCU as ‘Best Bank/Credit Union’ for the third time is an honor and reflection of our team living our Mission,” said President/ CEO Chuck Albrecht. In 2020, living our mission meant helping members save $1,298,619.18 in interest and fees they were paying on loans and checking accounts at other financial institutions. MMFCU also helped members that were experiencing financial hardship due to the pandemic by quickly putting programs in place to: skip loan payments at no cost, temporarily modify mortgage agreements, file claims for

loan forgiveness for members with Debt Protection, and keep businesses open and employees working by securing $16.2 million in Pay Check Protection Program Loans for 430 local businesses. Albrecht is honored to lead a team that supports the communities where our member owners live, work and play. “MMFCU gives back to the communities we serve through grants, financial education, volunteering, and donations. Annually, our team members have given back more than 1,000 volunteer hours and donations of more than $99,000,” Albrecht said.

Thank You Lakes Area For Voting PleasureLand RV


Camper/RV Dealer for 3 Years in a Row!

BRAINERD • 800-514-1129 17395 State Hwy. 371 N. ST. CLOUD • 800-862-8603 25064 Augusta Dr., 1-94 & County Road 75 RAMSEY • 800-725-7740 7900 Riverdale Dr. & Hwy. 10 N.W. SIOUX FALLS • 605-339-0436 4705 Northview Ave.

PLEASURELAND RV BUDGET LOTS BRAINERD• 800-514-1131 17301 State Hwy. 371 N. ST. CLOUD • 320-251-0650 2055 12th St. S.E. (Hwy. 10 S.) LONG PRAIRIE • 800-247-0687 22783 U.S. Hwy. 71


BRAINERD • 218-454-7802 16599 State Hwy. 371 N. 38 | Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021


415 Washington Street, Brainerd • (218) 829-5516

We’d like to Thank You for Voting Us #1! 1



2019 2021










he team at EasyRidersBikes wants to thank our customers for choosing us as No. 1 to do your passions of life together. Kenn and Lori Shepherd will celebrate 50 years this spring, and Brian and Lisa (daughter) Moon have taken our store to new and exciting levels over the past six years with an amazing team of full-time professionals, expert-level staff available and a fully supported product line, including Trek as the No. 1 bike line and Specialized as the No. 2, among others, allowing our customers one stop shopping. The National Bicycle Dealer Association has also awarded us the BEST BIKE SHOP IN AMERICA award since 2017, out of 4,000 in the USA. We currently serve six states and Canada and have customers driving 500 miles to buy our bikes and to experience our world-renowned area trails. Our customers have every excuse to come and play in the lakes area, and we have solutions that they are looking for. Once they try it, they are hooked. The E-bike market is wild. Looking back on 50 years, 29,000 cars go by the shop daily, and we still haven’t stopped 1%, but we’re ready. Brian likes to share jokingly, when asked if Kenn is retired or still here, “Kenn is always here and never here. Always working and always on vacation. How Kenn we help?” Your dream bike is waiting for you.

a en isp ted by the Brainerd D


Jeffrey E. Olson | Cassandra J. Spitzley | Sam C. Hennies David M. Ude | Ashley D. Valesano


(218) 829-4511

14213 Golf Course Dr. Suite 100 Baxter

(218) 568-5011

31052 Government Dr. Pequot Lakes

Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021 | 39


Proud to be your Lake’s Area #1 Tree Care Provider

Your Full Service Tree Company


BEST CAMPER/RV DEALER PLEASURELAND RV 17395 MN-371, Brainerd • (218) 828-1709



leasureland RV is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Pleasureland began in 1971 and grew from one to several locations including two in Brainerd and St. Cloud and one in Long Prairie, Ramsey and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It’s Pleasureland’s family touch that makes them stick out from their competitors. They’re a tight knit group who help families with getting into a RV/camper. Families are not another number or statistic on the wall, as Pleasureland strives to do their best to help their customers. Owner Dan Jewell said being voted No. 1 after the past 18 months feels really good and satisfying. They were running on a shorter crew and working a lot more hours, as the business saw more families wanting to join the RV/camper lifestyle. Jewell said they also saw many new people this past year who wanted to rent or purchase a RV or camper. The business received a lot of good feedback from their customers and they’re happy to see people enjoy the lifestyle.

602 Laurel St, Brainerd • (218) 454-3338 The Olde Open Window on Facebook


he Olde Open Window in historic downtown Brainerd has been in operation since 2010. Owner Lynda Boyd has built and expanded the local boutique over the years with her unique flair that entrances shoppers. When Lynda opened the shop, it was her dream. The business was named after a quote she strongly believes in; when God closes a door, he opens a window. She had started with just housewares and decorative pieces. And over the years she has expanded and added many unique brands and local artists. Upon entering the shop you are met with seasonal fragrances and, of course, the three resident cats. Adorable boutique fashions and comfy footwear complement the vintage-inspired jewelry collection. Locally handmade items are placed throughout the store, along with Minnesota souvenirs. Although the gift shoppe looks quaint on the exterior, it spans two floors of spectacular shopping. There really is something for everyone in The Olde Open Window. Our loyal customers showed us amazing support through the COVID-19 pandemic and now voted us No. 1. We would like to thank you all for your continued patronage. -The Olde Open Window on Sixth and Laurel. Inspiration for your home, body and soul.

By Women. For Women. About


A Brainerd Dispatch Publication

By Women. For

Women. About


A Brainerd Dispat

ch Publication

By Women. For Women. About



By Women. For Women. About Women.



A Brainerd Dispatch Publication

By Women. For

Women. About Women.

A Brainerd Dispatch



Abbie Hoelscher

OWNER American Family Insurance

Rise Above


Barb Merritt

OWNER Merritt Jewelers

Whelma Dukuly DeKontee Hennessey


from Liberia

Spring 2021

Women and business go hand-in-hand

Caroljean Weise

OWNER Weise Crafts



Michell e Lelwica

OWNE R Snap Fitness Hopkin s Health

and Wellne


PLUS! Spring 2020



Girls Camp

+ Embracing Our Elders

+ Local Teachers Recognized Nationally

Summer 2020 + Adjusting your perspective

+ Reconnecting with Ireland

+ Life is the Pits for the Rub My Rack BBQ Team

ING BALANCAc t even to be grateful for Finding things m of a pandemic in the pandemoniu


+ Lifelong Learning

Fall/Winter 2020

+ Mom, Technology and the New Normal

+ Virtually Go Anywhere

+ Embracing 2021 Helga’s Way

+ Hospice: Bon voyage a day at a time

+ The Abnormal Year


+ Laughter: It’s the best medicine

Summer 2021

+ Full Body Tight and Tone Park Bench Worko ut

+ Dreams Really Can Come True

Voted 2nd place for Best Magazine in the 2021 Best of the Brainerd Lakes Contest! Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021 | 41

BEST FITNESS CENTER BLACK ARROW MARTIAL ARTS 217 Washington Street, Brainerd • (218) 851-1618


lack Arrow Family Martial Arts was founded in July of 2012 by local Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt Jared Feierabend. Feierabend’s vision for opening Black Arrow was to bring World Class Jiu-Jitsu to the Brainerd lakes area. Jiu-Jitsu is primarily a grappling art that provides you the tools to protect yourself against opponents of all sizes and statures. Feierabend said, “Jiu-Jitsu is an incredible Martial Art for self protection and personal fitness.” When asked why Black Arrow was voted No. 1 Best Fitness Center in the Brainerd lakes area, Feierabend said, “We offer a traditional yet stylish

environment that is clean, family friendly, and most of all — safe. Our classes are designed for everyone in your family — whether you are a beginner just starting your journey or a seasoned practitioner. Our professional staff is on an unstoppable mission to help you reach your fitness goals.” Black Arrow takes great pride in having been voted Best Fitness Center in both 2019 and 2021. Black Arrow would like to thank everyone that voted and is honored to be of service to the community. Jiu-Jitsu classes are offered for adults and kids of all ages Monday through Saturday. Come try a free class!

112 Front Street N Suite D, Box 770, Pine River • (218) 820-3159







108 S 6th St 218.829.0347



226 Minnesota Ave N Across from Ice Arena 218.670.7120 218.562.4000

2019 2021




42 | Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021




ew or used, car or truck, RV or pontoon, Sweet Cars has it all. The Pine River dealership, in business since 2012, is a small business with a big focus on customer service. With only four staffers, owner Tim Sweet is proud of the recognition as Best Car Dealership in the lakes area, as the award is a testament to the hard work put into taking care of each and every customer. Sweet and his team thoroughly check all the cars before a sale, making sure his customers don’t buy something they’ll have to take to the shop in the near future. Sweet Cars is a dealer of used cars, trucks and boats; Forester Pontoons; U-Hauls; campers and fish houses, selling everything from the 1930s up to 2021. Tim thanks all those in the lakes area who voted for Sweet Cars and, especially, his employees Kim, Nick and Kathryn.

a en isp ted by the Brainerd D


CROSBY 20 W Main St 218.546.5411




1472 Cty Rd 5 218.363.2640

In Schaefer’s Foods 218.963.7525

200 Barclay Ave 218.587.2500

At GuidePoint Pharmacy, our experienced pharmacists are here to help guide you towards better health. Our pharmacies provide services that go beyond those typically seen in a community pharmacy, including: Free Delivery of Prescriptions • Free Mailing of Prescriptions

So you can be where you WANT to be.

Convenient Pill Packaging • Immunization Services

So you can stay where you are MEANT to stay. Diabetes Prevention & Education Classes • Medication Management Services

So you can live how you would ENJOY to live.

BEST FLOORING/ CARPET STORE TYKE'S CARPET SALES 16948 MN-371, Brainerd (218) 825-0279


he road to home improvement begins and ends at Tyke’s Carpet on Highway 371 North in Baxter. Despite the grand, castle-like appearance of this local flooring warehouse, shoppers don’t have to be royalty to enjoy great customer service, a knowledgeable staff and deals fit for a king and queen. Tyke’s Carpet Sales has a 55-year history of local family ownership. J.B. Bassett is the fourth generation of Bassetts to work in the business. The family’s vast knowledge of the carpet and flooring industry, paired with great products at exceptional pricing, is what has kept Minnesotans coming through the doors since 1965. Attention to detail and an honest, upfront way of doing business is one of the many reasons for the company’s longevity. Tyke’s only works with professional installers and all work is guaranteed for one year after installation. Competitors have come and gone over the years, but the fortress of Tyke’s Carpet castle has remained strong.


316 Washington St, Brainerd • (218) 829-3333


rainerd Floral was founded in 1962 by Edith Halverson followed by the purchase by Marc and Jacque Halverson. We have remained in the same location since the opening of Brainerd Floral at 316 Washington St., Brainerd. We have a very dynamic design, sales and delivery team. Our goal is to have every customer completely satisfied with their purchases. We offer the freshest flowers available in the lakes area with multiple shipments weekly and our tropical plant selection has been recently expanded to provide numerous new varieties. Our design staff can meet your every need for any event. For Memorial Day, we offer a complete cemetery urn service to 240 families with Minnesota

Grown bedding plants. Brainerd Floral products have helped local families with celebrations for birthday, sympathy, graduation, anniversary and all the special holidays such as Valentines, Easter, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. We are ready to serve you at 218-8293333 or

Voted #1 Roofing Company 3 Years In A Row! Roofing the Lakes Area one roof at a time – and treating each roof like it was our own –


for recognizing the pride we take in our Job ROOFING & GUTTERS, WE’VE GOT YOU COVERED.

LIC. #BC779447



Neumann Construction is a trusted, local rooing company. We have many years of experience and we’ve installed new roofs on over 2,000 homes in the Brainerd Lakes area. Your roof protects the entire investment you’ve made in your home, and we continue to provide the highest quality workmanship and products possible.

BRAINERDROOFING.COM Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021 | 43



ur locally owned and family-run garden center, nursery and landscape contracting service stands alone as the source for quality, selection and customer service. Ours is the largest garden center in the area, with more than 53,000 square feet of greenhouses, thousands of varieties of plant material, more staff to serve you, and more expert, professional advice than you can find anywhere else. We

grow virtually all our own annuals and perennials, ensuring optimum control of variety and hardiness. Our customers compliment us on all these attributes every day, but the one we hear about most frequently is our friendly, knowledgeable staff. People really like to connect with a familiar face who can answer all their questions. Working with a trusted source saves our customers a lot of time, money and headaches. As our business celebrates its 42nd anniversary this year, we feel

BEST GROCERY STORE SUPER ONE FOODS 7895 Excelsior Rd, Baxter • (218) 828-2160 Super One Foods and the Miner family would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our customers for your patronage and support in the Best of the Brainerd Lakes competition. We focus on a commitment to outstanding customer service every day and provide a wide range of products for our customers. We also value being part of

the community by supporting organizations and giving back. We couldn't do it without the support of our great staff. We greatly appreciate the customer support and all those who voted for us. It's an honor to continue to serve the community. We appreciate the recognition as the best grocery store.

so fortunate to have built so many long-standing relationships with our customers, many of whom have been loyal to us since Day One. Starting with a vast selection of quality plants, and then providing our customers with the skills they need to be successful, ultimately results in a better gardening experience for everyone. So, bring your imagination, enthusiasm, questions and concerns, and together we’ll create the landscape you’ve always dreamed of.

Thank you so much for your love and support! I’m honored to be picked as third best photographer in the BLA area!

• • • • • •

Wedding Families Seniors Newborns Maternity And more!

To book, find us on social media or 320.874.0384 44 | Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021


214 W Washington Street, Brainerd • (218) 829-5476


etting this award for the third year is so rewarding to the team of people who work at Brainerd Ace Hardware because it shows how much people are putting their trust in our business. We value being part of this community. This award validates what Brainerd Ace Hardware believes — we have the best, most loyal customers. The support of the community honestly deepens our desire to serve you even better. Because of you and your support, by shopping at our store, our local economy is better. Brainerd Ace Hardware has been part of your neighborhood in the Tyrol Hill Shopping Center for over 60-plus years — same location, expanded facility and excellent one-on-one customer service. We pride ourselves on convenience, knowledge, a variety of services such as small engine repair, customer key cutting, including the newest and latest key fobs and security keys; we specialize in paint matching, chainsaw and miscellaneous blade sharpening and more. We also offer a full line of Stihl and Husqvarna along with parts and accessories, supplies and tools needed for lawn maintenance, with the Brainerd lakes area’s best selection of grills and accessories which include Traeger, Big Green Egg and Weber with assembly included. Additional services include work on golf carts, carrying supplies for arborists and tree companies. Brainerd Ace Hardware offers free deliveries in the Brainerd city limits and for a small fee we will also deliver outside the city of the lakes area. We look forward to serving you today and for another 60-plus years.

“I feel honored and blessed to be voted in the top three for Realtors serving my hometown, The Brainerd Lakes Area. Thank you to all of my clients past, present and future for helping a mother support her dream.”

Antje Anderson

Real Estate Agent | (218) 330-7032

Specialties: Buyer’s Agent, Listing Agent, Relocation, Staging, Landlord, Only local brokerage not charging transaction fees

502 South 6th Street | Brainerd, MN 56401

Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021 | 45


11360 MN-371BUS, Brainerd • (218) 829-8529


724 Laurel St, Brainerd (218) 829-2849


he owners and staff at Bob & Fran’s are very happy to be voted the No. 1 home furnishing store in the lakes area. We would like to send out a big thank you to all of our customers who voted for us. We believe our store is very different from our competition. Customers can furnish every room of their house. It doesn’t end there. Customers can add their finishing touches with the thousands of home decor items scattered throughout Bob & Fran’s four floors. Many customers are surprised by the very large bedding department as well. We are a locally owned family business and we strive to make our customers’ shopping experience enjoyable, no high-pressure sales, customers may shop at their leisure. Our knowledgeable staff is ready to help you from start to finish, including finance, delivery and service after the sale. With more than 30 years of serving the lakes area, we are confident in our ability to make each shopping experience great for our customers. 46 | Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021


y-Tec Construction is committed to being the builder of choice in the lakes area that owners can rely on. Employing the most reliable quality craftsmen, skilled project managers, accomplished architects, talented designers and helpful office staff. Our team has grown to handle everything from complex medical facilities, educational and municipal buildings to custom designed lake homes and expansive remodels. Our philosophy is to build it right from the ground up. We know the foundation is the critical framework that holds the

building together. The same can be said for our process. Keeping communication and collaboration at the forefront, while encouraging the team to find the right solution ensures success. The construction industry is very interdisciplinary by nature, by instilling our team with these tools, we can guarantee each project as a whole, produces great results. We feel blessed to work with so many other local businesses and are honored to be voted the Best Home Builder in the lakes area. Thank you to all our loyal clients, subcontractors, our employees and their families, we couldn’t do it without you.

Thank You for making us one of the Best of the Brainerd Lakes Boutiques! 720 Washington St, Brainerd


BEST HOTEL/MOTEL ARROWWOOD LODGE AT BRAINERD LAKES 6967 Lake Forest Rd., Baxter • (218) 822-5634


rrowwood Lodge at Brainerd Lakes is honored to be awarded No. 1 Best of Hotel/Motel in the Brainerd lakes area for the third time. Arrowwood has a lodge feeling with its 102 cozy cabin-inspired rooms and suites. Each room is so spacious – they call them cabins. A complimentary breakfast buffet starts off their guests’ day each morning. While Arrowwood Lodge is family-friendly, they’re also attentive to the needs of business guests, featuring 7,500-squarefeet of flexible meeting and event spaces that are ideal for social gatherings and business meetings. An award-win-

ning culinary team provides full-service catering to meet all group food and beverage needs. The Paul Bunyan Waterpark is a top lodge attraction with 30,000 square feet of indoor fun. Available free to hotel guests and open to the public for a fee, it includes a tube and body slide, zero-depth entry, basketball hoops and a snack bar. Their indoor-outdoor hot tub is the only one in the area. Private birthday party rooms are available. Plus visit the Gold Mine Arcade with an array of arcade games. Hungry? Treat yourself to a stop at Baxter Bar and Grill offering many locally sourced foods and beverages.

BEST JEWELER E.L. MENK JEWELERS 623 Laurel Street, Brainerd (218) 829-7266


t is a great honor to once again be chosen by the Brainerd lakes community as the 2021 Best Jeweler. Since beginning my career in the jewelry industry 53 years ago, when opening E.L. Menk Jewelers in 1979, I have always strived to be the best in my field. It has been our privilege to provide top quality jewelry along with fine workmanship when making new jewelry items, as well as repairing our customers’ cherished jewelry items. E.L. Menk Jewelers would not have been able to do this without the help of my wife, my staff and the wonderful customers. As a full service jeweler, we offer basic jewelry designs, as well as complete custom designed jewelry featuring diamonds and colored gemstones, along with jewelry appraisals for our customers. In keeping with the new jewelry technology, we have added innovative computer software (CAD/CAM) to design and produce new, exciting, one-of-a-kind jewelry items. E.L. Menk Jewelers has two goldsmiths utilizing the standard jeweler’s bench tools, as well as a laser welder to perform the most intricate repairs. It has been a pleasure to be a part of the Brainerd community since 1974.

Open To The Public To Rent! CURLING CLUB BUILDING at the Fairgrounds

More than a County Fair…

Space available for your special event: Wedding 3 Anniversary Parties 3 Graduation Parties 3 Auctions 3 Craft Shows 3 Class Reunions 3 Family Reunions 3 Business Picnics 3 Benefits 3 Birthday Parties


Call the Crow Wing County Fairgrounds at 218-829-6680 or Gary Doucette at 218-838-9671 for more information or to reserve a date for your event. 2000 13th Street S.E., Brainerd, MN 56401 Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021 | 47



estled among the serene lakes and tall pine trees in Northern Minnesota, Clow Stamping Company’s 285,000-square-foot facility is anything but quiet. Founded over 50 years ago in 1970 by the late Everett Clow and Gladyce Clow MacLeod, the company remains a family owned organization led by second generation Reggie Clow and third generation Gabe Clow. The family leadership has grown operations from an eight-person shop to one of the largest stamping companies in the Midwest, employing over 500 people. Clow Stamping provides world-class metal stampings and weldments to

recognized original equipment manufacturers, including several Fortune 500 companies. Its products are found in equipment across multiple industries, such as agriculture, recreational, fitness and light and heavy-duty equipment. In the last year, Clow transformed over 47 million pounds of metal into 50 million precision parts that shipped worldwide. The committed, quality-minded, service-focused, welcoming and helpful way in which Clow employees operate leads to long-term ethical business partnerships with its customers. With excellent customer service, over 400 customers are consistently supplied with quality parts, on time, at a competitive price.


1022 Madison Street, Brainerd • (218) 828-6424


or almost 25 years, Lake Country Journal magazine has provided readers in central Minnesota with a unique perspective on what it means to live, work and play in the lakes country. Our magazine is more than a regional, bimonthly publication. It’s a celebration of all things up north. We celebrate our culture, rich in history and diversity. We celebrate our spirit of adventure on both land and water. We celebrate our network of lake communities and the people who call this the most beautiful

48 | Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021

place on earth home, either year-round, seasonally, or if only for a long weekend. Founded in 1997 by Chip and Jean Borkenhagen, LCJ remains locally owned and published by Range Printing, a third-generation family owned and operated printing company based in Brainerd. We appreciate our dedicated magazine staff, contributing writers and photographers, and advertisers for making every issue a stand-out issue. All of us at LCJ are deeply grateful to our readers for subscribing to our magazine and for voting for us. Thank you for your support.

Clow Stamping Company is very honored to be voted the best manufacturing company for the third year. Thank you to each of our employees, their families, and the communities who support them and make this possible. *** Employing over 500 people, Clow Stamping Company’s workforce is larger than 99 percent of the other manufacturing companies in the state of Minnesota. A career at Clow Stamping Company — regardless of the department — starts with commitment. From the executive leadership team through the ranks, associates commit to an ethic of hard work and a mission to produce the highest quality product in the industry.



on Hanson's Meats of Baxter is locally owned and operated. What makes Von Hanson's the best comes down to two things. Our great dedicated staff is the key to the quality of our business. Equally as important is the best customers anyone could ask for. To say we are thankful is an absolute understatement.

BEST MOTORSPORTS DEALER BROTHERS MOTORSPORTS 8194 Fairview Rd., Baxter • (218) 829-6656








Best Crosslake Restaurant First Place




es Pr

or the third time, Brothers Motorsports has been voted the Best Motorsports Dealer (ATV/snowmobile/side-byside) in the Brainerd lakes area. The late Steve VandePutte started Brainerd Yamaha in 1989. And shortly after opening, Ski-Doo and Kawasaki lines were added. The business expanded with the purchase of Brainerd Honda in 1992 from the Tengwall family, which was run by Chris VandePutte. Steve and Chris VandePutte decided to combine the two dealerships into one and Brothers Motorsports was formed in 1997. The name was picked, not because the VandePuttes were brothers, but because they wanted to offer a family environment in which to operate their business. Thanks to continued support from their loyal customers, Brothers Motorsports was recently able to purchase the Vikingland Harley Davidson building across the road to offer added convenience and an all-around improved experience. Brothers Motorsports is the area’s largest recreational product dealer, carrying brands from Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki, KTM, Sea-Doo, Ski-Doo, Can-Am and CF Moto. Being one of the largest volume and multi-brand recreation product dealers in Minnesota, Brothers Motorsports carries a wide variety of inventory, including motorcycles, snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and personal watercraft.

en ted

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34650 CR 3, Crosslake

218-692-4800 Find us on Facebook! Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021 | 49


506 James Street, Brainerd • (218) 829-4705


hanks to our loyal readers who voted the Brainerd Dispatch the best area newspaper in the “2021 Best of” Contest. We really appreciate your support and will continue to work hard to deserve your vote. The Brainerd Dispatch has documented the history of the lakes area since the newspaper was first published in 1881. The Dispatch currently has a print edition twice a week and e-edition (digital newspaper) six times a week. The Dispatch also features local, state, national and world news updates with our continuous digital coverage on its website. We also inform and entertain readers through videos, podcasts and social media. We provide valuable advertising information to support the local and regional businesses through our many newsprint special sections and glossy magazines. We also print the largest circulation free advertising publication in the lakes area as the Echoland Shopper is delivered to more than 28,000 homes.

Our staff remains dedicated to providing news coverage quickly and accurately covering local county, city and school

board meetings and hundreds of area events to reporting on the activities of more than a dozen area high schools.

Thank you for voting us Best Electrical Contractor of the Brainerd Lakes! We are honored to have served this community since 1976.

Honesty. Integrity. Respect. | 218-828-0250 | 50 | Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021




miles for Jake is a suicide prevention movement that spreads positivity through life-affirming actions, listening ears and the message that everyone should have hope. Born in and spreading from a community that experienced the suicide of a beloved son, the nonprofit was officially formed in 2019. Our all-volunteer board of directors, along with a host of businesses, organizations and individuals throughout the Brainerd lakes area and beyond work to spread hope and positivity by organizing and hosting free community events, creating local advocacy programs and distributing materials that reduce the stigma of mental health. It’s only with community support that Smiles for Jake continues to thrive and be a force for good in the world. Thank you, thank you, thank you for voting for our little but mighty nonprofit. From the bottom of our smiling hearts, we appreciate you.


helsie Elizabeth Photography is a portrait and wedding business nestled in the heart of the Brainerd lakes area. A self-described “transplant” from the Twin Cities 16 years ago, Chelsie will admit without hesitation this beautiful and popular region of our state is what breathed life and longevity into her business. Photographing both local and vacationing families yearround is a dream career for Chelsie. Deciding not to specialize in just one subject area was a deliberate and methodical business decision as well. Photographing anything that makes her spirit soar is what has allowed her to photograph full time for nearly 19 years. Her goal of providing high-quality, beautiful images is simply a result of photographing with joy and enthusiasm — something she intends to offer to everyone standing in front of her camera. Over the years, Chelsie has created a loyal and devoted following in the Brainerd lakes area, oftentimes photographing the same people year after year. She believes repeat business is the highest form of flattery one could receive in this industry and she credits her amazing clients, friends and family for this honor.

THANK YOU! Voted 3rd Place Best Magazine in the 2021 Best of the Brainerd Lakes Contest!

VOTED #1 MAGAZINE IN MINNESOTA! Minnesota Newspaper Association awarded the Brainerd Dispatch’s 2020 Minnesota Home magazine BEST MAGAZINE in the state!

“This magazine is on par with a national magazine. Well executed, attractive, incredibly professional looking. They set the bar high and were successful in creating a well-crafted product.” - Judges Comments Thank you to our community and readers for voting us among the Best of the Best! Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021 | 51



ur agents are extremely dedicated to our clients. In today’s fast paced real estate market, this means being available nights, weekends and holidays. Our agents don’t take a lot of time off. They understand that this is a person’s largest asset that they are asking us to help sell or to purchase. We take this responsibility very seriously. Our team is always honored and humbled when someone hires us to make their real estate dreams a reality. All of our agents are full time and committed to making every client a raving fan. We really focus on trying to make the process as seamless and smooth as possible. We are ranked as one of the top teams in the entire country. Our team only hires the very best because we understand that an agent is a reflection of the team. What separates our team from most of the other offices and teams is our com-

mitment to marketing. We spend tens of thousands of dollars each month in radio, billboards, print, internet and social media promoting our listings. Our goal is to get as many eyeballs on our listings as possible. In today’s market, it is very

easy to sell a home. We are focusing on not just selling the home, but trying to sell it for a record price for our sellers. Our tagline is: It’s Not the Market; it’s the Marketing. We practice and put in place this tagline on a daily basis.

BEST RESORT GRAND VIEW LODGE GOLF RESORT & SPA 23521 Nokomis Avenue, Nisswa • 866-801-2951


rand View Lodge is the premier family, golf, and spa resort in Minnesota located on Gull Lake in the Brainerd lakes area. Founded in 1916, Grand View Lodge has provided guests vacation experiences unlike any other with a wide variety of restaurants, seasonal activities and lodging options for over 100 years. Owned and operated by the Cote family, its roots grow deep in the history of the Brainerd lakes area. The resort has been recognized with countless honors statewide and nationally from MN Bride Magazine, Twin Cities Business Magazine, Travel & Leisure, and Conde Nast Traveler, to name a few. Winning Best Resort locally for the third year running is especially meaningful and the property is grateful to the guests and local community members for their support. Grand View recently completed a $50 million expansion by adding 40 new 52 | Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021

cabins, a recreation center with a fitness room and yoga studio, an indoor pool and water slide, an outdoor pool, three hot tubs, a food truck, and a 60-room

boutique hotel with space for meetings, solidifying its place as a top-tier Minnesota resort destination for generations to come.

BEST SCHOOL PILLAGER PUBLIC SCHOOL 323 2nd St E, Pillager • (218) 746-2113


illager Public Schools Superintendent Mike Malmberg is excited, honored and humbled for his school to be voted No. 1 in the lakes area. The honor speaks volumes of the staff members who interact with students on a day-to-day basis and of the multitude of programs available. With an enrollment of about 1,240 students, Pillager has the feel of a small school but no shortage of opportunities for students and families. Video production, agricultural science, robotics and the ProStart cooking program are just a few of the offerings available for kids. And with this fall’s opening of the CTC Center — the district’s new performing arts center — the community at-large will benefit as well. Malmberg feels the CTC Center will elevate Pillager to the level of other districts in the area as school staffers continue to focus on building personal relationships with their students and families. “We keep expanding opportunities and continuing to grow, but yet try to maintain that small town feel and try to keep relationships with students and families,” Malmberg said.

BEST SPORTING GOODS/OUTDOOR STORE FLEET FARM 14114 Dellwood Drive N., Baxter • (218) 829-1565


hat began as a business to sell merchandise directly to farmers 66 years ago is now a stalwart retailer along Highway 371 in Baxter, it’s signature silo a reminder of its agricultural roots. But in addition to its reliable farm supply, Fleet Farm now carries merchandise appealing to a much broader audience than those tending the fields, and voters recognized the business as the Best Sporting Goods/Outdoor Store in the Brainerd lakes area.“We carry something for everybody — the tourist, the average guy, the farmer, the home builder, the do-it-yourselfer, the gardener,” said Geary Kline, store manager. “What differentiates us is our selection and our depth of merchandise. It’s the wide variety of things we sell.” The massive inventory and higher-end brand names appeal to both the casual and expert sportsman and outdoors enthusiast. “We’d just like to thank all of our loyal customers for shopping with us, and I hope they continue to do so,” Kline said.

I am honored to be recognized as one of the Best of the Brainerd Lakes writers/journalists! Between articles, my book, and events... I’m able to share my love of our region. Julie Jo Larson Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021 | 53



lite Title & Escrow, Corp. started in the Brainerd lakes area as a corporately owned company in the early 1990s and was originally known as ATI Title. After several corporate sales and name changes, which included Rels Title, Dataquick Title, and Stewart Title, the two long term employees, Shayna McCulloch and Dawn Holmberg were presented with an opportunity in spring of 2015, and decided to purchase the company from Stewart Title. The name changed to Elite Title & Escrow, Corp and a new locally owned title company started its journey to success. We feel the community voted us No. 1 Title Company and No. 1 in Best Customer Service because every employee in our office goes above and beyond to successfully complete a transaction for our clients. We strive to provide an enjoyable and memorable experience as homeownership is one of the biggest accomplishments in life. From the public, to our real estate agents, builders, and loan officers, we work hard from start to finish on all our transactions. Shayna and Dawn also want to thank our loyal staff and everyone who voted us No. 1 Best Small Company to work for as this is a reflection of the core values implemented when the business was created. Elite Title’s success has been driven by the dedication and loyalty of every member of the team. The company “work family” is a critical component of the overall success and continued growth of the business. They are so appreciative of every member of the staff and the efforts they contribute to foster a positive work environment. We want to thank all of our voters, family, friends, and clients who took the time to vote. We are humbled by being voted “Best” in three categories. We deeply appreciate your loyalty and business and look forward to serving you in the future.

A social destination for all ages! Big Jay’s is proud to serve up scratch made pizza, frosty beer on tap, and old school entertainment! Open 7 days a week! 11am-9pm Big Jay’s Pizza Arcade 217 S 7th St. Brainerd, MN 56401 (218) 270-3519

54 | Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021



16227 MN-371, Brainerd • (218) 824-0923


e are so honored to have been voted the No. 1 Best Thrift Store in the Brainerd lakes area again this year. Common Goods would like to thank everyone who took the time to vote for us. Proceeds from Common Goods help financially support Bridges of Hope. The mission of Bridges of Hope is to build bridges of support, anchored in Christ’s love, between families in the lakes area and the community assets that can help them thrive and gain hope. Bridges of Hope links families to community support and resources, creating partnerships within the broader community to help strengthen, stabilize and support families in the lakes area, sending a message of hope and empowering families to thrive. Common Goods offers high-quality goods at reasonable prices and as a result, local donations stay local and proceeds from the store support Bridges of Hope’s work with local households. We want to thank and acknowledge God as well as everyone on our team (board, staff, volunteers and of course our customers and donors) for our success and the impact that together we are making in our communities. Thank you for making us No. 1.

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As a bonus to our readers, we include more than 25 special interest publications that explore specific topics tucked inside Crosby our Brainerd Dispatch newspaper. Thank you for your continued community support! Deerwood

CRMC sets visitor, facility restrictions

Open your phone or tablet's camera and point it at this code any time after 6 a.m. each day to access that day's print

on days your Available even delivered! print paper is not

Thank you for voting us Best Newspaper in the Brainerd Lakes Area! We listen to our community and what they need from us. Our specialty is gathering and delivering useful information and news to the people who need to know about it.

$2.00 29, 2021 •



fter congratulating West Central Tribune sports editor Tom Elliott on being inducted into the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association’s Hall of Honor many years ago, his reply stuck with me. It was a reply often used by former Dispatch sports editor Mike Bialka to brush off any fame or glory. Both would say if you do something long enough, someone is bound to notice. It’s true people sometimes do notice. Most often it’s after a mistake made it to print. I’ve certainly made my share of mistakes, but becoming a sports writer and then a sports editor wasn’t one of them. Two days after graduating from North Dakota State University with a mass communications degree in hand, I started work at the Brainerd Dispatch. That was May 10, 1999. Twenty-two years later I can say I still enjoy my job. It’s not so much for the fact that I get paid to watch sports and I’m allowed to moonlight as a food writer, but for the people you meet — the people, who after all of these years, notice what I do. And to those people and those who voted for me who I haven’t met yet — I thank you.

we’re at,” n the Sept. 21 By Renee Richardso Olson said at budget sesManaging Editor city council city sion. In a subdued Zach session, Council member to council budget a crack- Tabatt said he wanted punctuated by prosystem and see forward looking ling sound as much as posof silence, long moments Council jections to stratways with City sible, Baxter another egize and do financial members took future city’s 2022 planning in the look at the ahead order to look budget numbers.anybody in : Page A16 “I doubt that BAXTER where is happy with

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LAKE SHORE $399,900

MOTLEY $119,900

CROSBY $119,900

| Suite 120 7153 Forthun Rd Baxter, MN 56425

Voted Brainerd Lakes

Area #1 Realtor


Chad Schwendem

Broker/Owner 218-831-HOME (4663)

EXT. 2196

EXT. 2506

EXT. 5896

EXT. 5876 Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021 | 55

BEST CHILD CARE FACILITY BRAINERD YMCA 602 Oak Street, Brainerd • (218) 829-4767


he Brainerd Family YMCA has been serving our community since 1885. The New Discoveries Day Care is so much more than just a program. It is a community of teachers, parents and students who work together to best ensure that every child has the opportunity to discover who they might become and reach their full potential. Parents whose children have developed through our program share stories time and time again on how their child or children were not just prepared for school but for life.


13540 Ironwood Drive, Brainerd • (218) 829-6764


irst established in 1996 by Shannon Christian, Shannon’s Auto Body on 13540 Ironwood Drive east of Brainerd has been a mainstay in the lakes area for two decades. Leaning on a focus for customer needs and concerns, as well as an emphasis on repairs that address automotive problems for the long haul, it’s a business model that’s worked. The proof is in the pudding. In the 2021 Best Of Brainerd Lakes competition, readers voted Shannon’s Auto Body over its competitors for Best Auto Care. “We’ve always strived from Day One to have the best customer service and to put the customer first,” Christian said. “That’s something I’ve instilled in the employees. That started with me as the sole owner and employee and it’s still there now that we have 26 employees. Just put the customer first and everything else falls in line.” “We go above and beyond,” he added. “We try to put the car back into better condition than it was before the accident.”

Thank you for voting. We are honored to be your W #1 Best Home Builder!


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11360 Business 371, Brainerd



eff and Tracy Swenson are the owner/operators of Chem Dry of the Lakes and have been a husband and wife team working side by side for over 25 years. They started in Chem Dry in Colorado in 1995 but returned to their home state of Minnesota in 2000. Chem Dry’s patented process of carpet cleaning uses a unique carbonated cleaning solution that dries in 1-2 hours, not days, leaving no soapy residue left

behind to reattract dirt. Chem Dry of the Lakes will leave your carpets “Cleaner, Drier & Healthier” than any other process in the field. Offering a wide variety of services now including hardwood floor and luxury vinyl cleaning, tile and grout cleaning and sealing, upholstery cleaning and protecting, and also service granite countertop renewal which includes cleaning, sealing and polishing. We are pet stain and odor experts with our patented P.U.R.T. (pet

urine removal treatment) solution. Jeff and Tracy enjoy cleaning residential and commercial projects and of course offer free estimates and information. We serve Crow Wing, Aitkin, Morrison, Todd, Southern Cass and Mille Lacs Counties. Their lifetime commitment and years of customer service in the cleaning industry has led us to be voted No. 1 Cleaning Service in the Brainerd lakes area for three years and for that honor they say thank you.

BEST CHIROPRACTIC OFFICE LAKES CHIROPRACTIC 413 S 6th Street, Brainerd • (218) 828-4418


nce again, we are humbled to be elected the Best of Brainerd Lakes Chiropractic Clinic for 2021. This is our third year being No. 1 and we are nonetheless excited and honored. Our efficient pace, easy scheduling and family atmosphere are what make our clinic function as well as it does. None of this would be possible without each one of you and we look forward to serving more people. The best thank you is to allow us to help the people you know and love. We look forward to helping as many people as possible from all age groups, newborn to elderly. During such a difficult time we love serving our community and making it healthier with natural chiropractic care. Thank you from all of us at Lakes Chiropractic.

Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021 | 57



esign Dentistry has been a well-respected dental office in Baxter for more than 30 years. Dr. Rutman, Dr. Taylor, and Dr. Tran, with their team, brings over 75 years of combined experience and expertise to the Brainerd lakes area. Dr. Tran is a new addition to the busy dental practice and brings with her many new and innovative in-office treatments, including dental implant placement. Laughter often rings throughout the office, where the dental team, as well as their patients, feel more like family. “We just truly care for our patients,” Dr. Taylor said. “We listen to their concerns and take every part of their lifestyle into account when we plan a treatment plan.” The doctors at Design Dentistry know how important a smile is and understand that being able to smile freely affects a person’s whole being. Creating beautiful and flawless smiles with their restorations is most likely a key reason that Design Dentistry has been voted “Best Of” in the cosmetic/esthetic category every year since the inception of the contest.

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14213 Golf Course Dr N #100, Baxter • (218) 829-4511

akes Dental Care started in the Brainerd/Baxter area in the early 1980s with Dr. Bill Beasley. Dr. Jeff Olson joined the practice in the late 1980s and shortly thereafter it expanded with a location in Pequot Lakes. Over the years of service to the area, Lakes Dental Care has naturally grown to help accommodate the needs of our patients, and now there are five dentists and a world-class professional staff to serve both locations. Lakes Dental Care strives to provide the most personalized and comprehensive dental experience for all of our patients. We see all ages of patients and provide a full spectrum of dental treatment options from regular dental cleanings and exams to full orthodontic care and dental implants.

We pride ourselves on educating our patients about the full spectrum of options they have available and ensuring the treatment decisions are made jointly between the patient and the provider. We would like to sincerely thank all our patients and supporters for voting us the Best Dental Office in the Brainerd lakes area. — Drs. Jeff Olson, Cassie Spitzley, Sam Hennies, David Ude, Ashley Valesano

BEST ELDER CARE SERVICES ADVANTAGE PCA & SENIOR CARE 13954 Cypress Dr STE 102, Baxter • (218) 838-4543


31147 Front St, Pequot Lakes (218) 568-8338


ow, what an amazing honor! Advantage PCA and Senior Care is so proud to receive the 2021 Best of the Brainerd Lakes award in Best Elder Care Services. As a local, family-owned and operated home care agency, we are extremely proud of the reputation we have earned in our 13-plus years of service to our seniors and those requiring assistance to complete activities of daily living in their homes and in our communities. Our goal has always been to hire the best caregivers and provide flexible,

outstanding employment opportunities while delivering the highest levels of home care and customer service to the seniors and families that we serve. This wonderful award goes to our entire team of phenomenal caregivers, supervisors and office staff. It is their dedication and compassion that truly set us apart and allow us to exceed the home care industry’s highest standards. Thank you to our community, employees and those we serve for nominating and voting Advantage PCA and Senior Care as the 2021 Best of the Brainerd Lakes in Elder Care.


e're so honored and humbled to be named “best of the best” in our field of expertise, especially during the challenges we all faced in 2020. We take pride in being a family-owned small business, born and raised in the Brainerd lakes area. As a mother of five and wife, our family built this business because we enjoyed helping people! My first job was delivering papers on a bicycle around 9 years old for the Dispatch and now we have a Pequot Lakes-based company that networks/educates others looking to get into the field. We service most counties surrounding Cass/Crow Wing and beyond with our duct cleaning services. We focus on quality, integrity, striving to do our very best and educating our clients about creating cleaner indoor air quality and maintenance. From floors, interior spaces and duct work, you can go to to book your appointment. We believe it’s our strong commitment to our great staff and clients that helped earn this award, so thank you for your participation and patronage. Cheers to the Brainerd lakes for helping build a local company that cares. Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021 | 59


8296 Industrial Park Rd S, Baxter • (218) 828-0250


im’s Electric Company was founded in 1976 on the belief that you should provide quality work and honor your commitments. Today, we have grown to more than 40 employees that strive to honor that tradition every day in the Brainerd lakes and surrounding areas. We are honored to have been voted the Best Electrical Contractor of the Brainerd lakes. With commitment to quality work, prompt service and dependable workmanship, we take pride in every project we complete. Our company is built on these essential core values: Honest, Integrity and Respect. Our team of professional and licensed electricians have been trained in the latest technology to meet the most demanding electrical installation requirements. Our experienced estimators, planners, electricians, specialty technicians and support staff can handle any electrical project from concept to completion. Jim’s Electric specializes in residential, commercial, technology service, agriculture, industrial, and emergency services — no job is too big or, more importantly, too small.

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he financial services firm, with office branches in the area, was founded in 1922 in St. Louis, Missouri, by Edward D. Jones. It’s branch network has grown to more than 15,000 locations with more than 19,000 financial advisors. Offices are usually staffed by a finan-

cial advisor (licensed broker) and one branch office administrator. The one broker-per-office model allows clients to choose their broker directly, and deal with that person exclusively. There are six offices in Brainerd/Baxter and two more in Nisswa. Thanks for voting for Edward Jones as the No. 1 financial advisor in the area.


7870 Excelsior Rd, Baxter (218) 828-9545


idwest Family Eye Center in Baxter has been providing exceptional eye care to lakes area residents for over 20 years. After working as an independent contractor for several years, Dr. Jackie McCall opened the eye center in 1999 offering a wide range of eye care services. McCall and her team’s dedication to exemplary patient-centered care is reflected in the esteem in which her patients hold her. Receiving the Best Eye Care award speaks to the center’s commitment to outstanding service, particularly through challenging times. The doctors associated with the center are doctors of optometry and are board-certified in the management and treatment of eye diseases, including glaucoma, eye infections, ocular allergies and foreign objects in the eye. They are dedicated to preventing problems and encourage people to remember the importance of the preventive eye examination. We are fortunate enough to live in the Brainerd lakes area surrounded by nature’s beauty and know firsthand how important good eyesight is. Whether you are watching an awesome sunrise, following the course of a soaring eagle, fishing or floating, your eyesight is priceless.


THE BEST REAL ESTATE AGENT. I am very honored to be chosen Best Real Estate Agent in 2019 and 2021. Thank you to all our clients for putting your trust in us to bring you the best real estate experience.


(218) 454-EXIT (3948) |


ESTATE AGENT 2019 & 2021

Thank you! Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021 | 61


24719 Hazelwood Drive, Nisswa • (218) 961-0095


elle Cheveux means beautiful hair because that is what we do. Belle Cheveux opened in 2009 as a fourchair Paul Mitchell Focus salon with only one stylist: Missy, the owner. By the end of the first year, the salon had a full house. Over the next five years in our 1,200-square-foot rental space,

we added a fifth stylist and an assistant. It was getting pretty tight in there, so it was time to move and expand. In the spring of 2015, we purchased a beautiful 2,200-square-foot building set in the woods on Hazelwood Drive, giving us the ability to expand to six stylists. What an amazing team we are now. Everyone has the same passion and goals — to make our guests feel beautiful.

BEST GUTTER COMPANY ADVANTAGE SEAMLESS GUTTERS 7419 Forthun Rd. S., Baxter • (218) 270-2663


dvantage Seamless Gutters has grown from a one-man show to a team of professionals serving all of Minnesota and areas surrounding Des

Moines, Iowa. Still a family-owned business rooted in the Brainerd lakes area, Advantage Seamless Gutters devotes itself to ensuring customers receive the best functioning and looking gutter system to fit their individual needs. Advantage Seamless Gutters believes that without the support of the community and loyal staff they wouldn't be where they are today. Focusing strongly on customer service is what has brought this award. Treating every customer like they are a part of the "Advantage Family" is something this company lives by. 62 | Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021

With continuous salon education and by attending hair shows, we pride ourselves on our level of education in the industry. A huge thank you to all of our guests for all of their love and support. Without all of you, there wouldn't be us, so we thank you again from the bottoms of our hearts. If you look good, we look good.

BEST LANDSCAPING/LAWN CARE CUT RIGHT LAWN CARE 1170 127th St SW, Brainerd • (218) 851-9443 Cut Right Lawn Care on Facebook


ut Right Lawn Care was started by Shane Rauen in 2009. Rauen started picking up a few lawn mowing jobs here and there for extra income after his fulltime job with the City of Baxter. His accounts grew quite a bit in the next few years just by word of mouth, so Rauen decided to leave his full-time job in 2019. Since then, his lawn care business has expanded more, mostly through word of mouth. Officials with the business value their customers’ feedback and are grateful to be able to serve the Brainerd lakes area.



IBEC Heating and Cooling was started in 2005. When the owner decided to retire, Jake and Jenny saw an opportunity to fulfill their dreams of growing an HVAC company, and became owners of JIBEC Heating and Cooling in 2010. “We were more than humbled when we found out we were nominated for the Best of the Brainerd Lakes contest. Being nominated told us we were making our customers happy. We believe in our work and stand by everything we do. Our dependable and honest team is dedicated to meeting all of our customers HVAC needs. To be voted No. 1 Heating and Air Conditioning Company is truly an honor.

Our customers are the reason we love our jobs. There is nothing better than making sure families are warm and cozy in the winter, and cool and comfortable in the summer. All of us at JIBEC Heating and Cooling thank you for the opportunity to serve you and we look forward to providing the best service and installation to the Brainerd Lakes area for many years to come.”


THE TREE GUY Thank you for voting Ben the Tree Guy for 2nd Place Best Tree Company!

Ben Westlund, Climbing Arborist 218.821.3758 Fully licensed & insured!

Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021 | 63

BEST LAW FIRM THE RABOIN & FRANCIS LAW FIRM 7343 Woida Rd., Baxter (218) 828-9211


e are so honored to win this for the third contest year in a row. The Raboin & Francis Law Firm started Nov. 23, 1992, when John Raboin opened The Raboin Law Office. The office was located next to a local beauty salon and clients had to suffer through the “perm” smell from that business to get up the stairs to the office. The firm used furniture from a hotel that went out of business and had particle-board bookshelves for walls. On Oct. 1, 1994, the law firm moved to a building they constructed on Woida Road in Baxter. Over the years, the law firm has grown and is now one of the busiest personal injury firms in north central Minnesota. John Raboin remains active in the community. Most recently, John helped form the Full Tummies program, which helped feed hungry people on weekends in the Brainerd lakes area during the pandemic. He focuses his practice on personal injury and employment law. Michelle Francis joined the firm in 2012 and quickly became an involved member of the Brainerd lakes community. Michelle became a partner Jan. 1, 2017, starting The Raboin & Francis Law Firm. She is also very active in the community and currently sits on the Mid-Minnesota Women’s Center Board of Directors. She has a thriving practice focused on personal injury, workers’ compensation and Social Security disability. Being part of this community is important to us and we want to thank voters for their support in the Best of Brainerd Lakes contest. 64 | Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021



he story of Cuyuna Regional Medical Center and its development into a high-tech medical campus known for its innovation and creativity is one of persistence and determination. Since its humble beginning in 1964, CRMC has grown from three doctors treating just a few patients to more than 60 physicians and specialists offering the full spectrum of health care to thousands of patients. The small hospital expanded to offer many additional services through the years and now includes a nursing home, senior living community, surgery center and physician clinics in Baxter, Breezy

Point, Crosby and Longville. Providing extraordinary, quality patient care has always been CRMC’s priority. Professionals treat patients kindly and make it a priority to heal them quickly and properly. As CRMC has grown, it has been able to attract dedicated, quality physicians and support staff who, along with stateof-the-art technology, have developed CRMC into a regional resource for advanced diagnostic and therapeutic health care services. The medical center has been recognized with numerous national and regional awards as well. CRMC’s unique brand of personalized care is characterized by a record of sustained strength and steady growth.

Voted #1 Jeweler! Full Service Jewelry Repairs Ring Resizing, Prong Repair, Stone Setting, Custom Design, Chain Repair, Watch Batteries & Jewelry Appraisals WE BUY GOLD!

Corner of 7th & Laurel Downtown Brainerd



13508 Elmwood Dr Suite 1, Baxter • (218) 454-0850 DN Nails on Facebook


he full-service nail salon and spa is located on Elmwood Drive in Baxter. DN Nail & Spa provides a wide range of regular and gel manicure and pedicure services, including kids regular and gel sets. Like gel nails, dip powder is long-lasting (up to three weeks), but doesn’t require LED light for curing. Some of the services include: manicure, pedicure, color dip, extensions, polish change and nail application removal. The pedicures are done for cosmetic, therapeutic purposes, and are popular throughout the world. Thanks for voting DN Nail & Spa the top nail service in the area. For an appointment call 218-454-0850.

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7372 Woida Rd., Baxter • (218) 829-1709

7447 Clearwater Rd N, Baxter • (218) 824-0642


irshfield’s is a fourth-generation family-owned company in the paint and decorating business for over 125 years serving professional contractors and homeowners. We are dedicated to helping our customers with their dream projects whether it’s their new home or a fresh look. Customer service and an operation with a long history in the community help us stand out in our industry. Our employees are dedicated to work with clients over the course of planning their projects to help them reach their vision. Hirshfield’s offers a comprehensive color selection of paints and stains from Benjamin Moore, Magnolia Home and Hirshfield's own brand made here in Minnesota. We excel at color matching and provide custom stain matches at the Baxter store. But Hirshfield’s is more than a paint store. Window treatments from blinds to fabric drapes are part of the mix along with professional floor coatings and roof coatings. From curbside service to meeting a massive demand for supplies and services, Hirshfield’s has also risen to the challenge presented by the pandemic. This year, the store has provided more than 1,000 custom stain matches and more than 800 paint matches. We would really like to thank our customers for the patience they’ve had with us this past year. What sets us apart are the multiple options with a variety of vendors allowing us to keep up with supply shortages and get our customers what they need. We are thankful for the customers who know we do our best to help them with their projects and thankful for their votes for Best Paint Store.



Steve Kohls, Photographer




akeland Veterinary Hospital has been serving the Brainerd lakes region for more than 40 years. Our current veterinary medical facility has been our home-base since the year 2000, when it was built by local architects for the specific purpose of being a functional and modern veterinary practice. As a full-service vet clinic, we offer care for your pets through every stage of their life and medical needs, including surgical procedures, examinations, vaccinations, diagnostics and more, as well as grooming and boarding. At Lakeland, pets are family, and our clinic is full of compassionate individuals who understand, appreciate and live for the bond between owners and pets. Over the years, our staff has come to be a sort of second family to each other and we view each of our clients as valued friends. We're proud of going above and beyond to acquire optional accreditations and certifications in the veterinary industry. We strive to add the most current scientific advances to our practice as the study of veterinary medicine makes exciting progress every year. Your pets deserve the best veterinary care available. Lakeland Veterinary Hospital is so incredibly honored and thankful to have been voted as the Brainerd Lakes Area’s Best Veterinary Clinic and Best Grooming. We absolutely love being part of such a wonderful community and look forward to serving you as well as all your canine and feline companions for the next 40-plus years.



Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Peuot akes yan Monahan leaps for a layup Monday, March 15, while Pillager Huskies Eli Shingledecker and rin Decker provide defense at Pillager High School. Pillager yan Monahan finished with 16 points with Simon Wufflestad and Eli Laposky each adding 12 as Class 2A’s 12th-ranked Pequot Lakes Patriots defeated Pillager 81-41 Monday, March 15. Griffin Decker and AJ Gratke led the Huskies with eight points each.


Pequot Lakes 46 35 — 81 Pillager 21 20 — 41 PEQUOT LAKES Bode Magnuson 11, Nic Kotaska 4, Ale Morgan 5, Carter Soblad 5, yan Monahan 1, yan Harmala , Simon Wufestad 12, Eli aposky 12, Sam ysavy 11. F 31-59 (52), F 11-2 (55). 3-point -19 (42). Overall 1-2. Net hosts wo HarborsPillager in Section 7-2A uarternals  p.m. Friday, March 19.

PILLAGER rayson Beard 4, Eli Shingledecker 4, Ethan Kocur 2, abe rimsley 1, ion oucks 2, ytan Skeesick 2, rin Decker , Parker Schaefer 3, Cole Hiltner 7, AJ ratke . F 14-55 (25), F 12-23 (52). 3-point 1- (13). Overall 11-7. Net at wo Harbors in Section 7-2A opening round  p.m. Wednesday, March 17.

Staples-Motley 70, Menahga 51

MENAHGA — Max Strickland hit for 22 points in a 70-51 win for No. 9 seed Staples-Motley over No. 8 seed Menahga in a South Subsection 8-2A play-in game Monday, March 15. Sivert Klefsaas added 15 points

and Isaiah Schultz tallied 13 points in the Cardinals win.

Menahga 26 25 — 51 Staples-Motley 31 39 — 70 MENAHGA Jared olkkinen 7, yan olkkinen 3, Christian Johnson 4, Andreas Aho 21, Nick Wurdock 9, Alec Aho 2. F 9-12 (75). STAPLES-MOTLEY Ma Strickland 22, yle Brownell 3, Isaiah Schultz 13, Sivert Klefsaas 15, Adam Oberlander 5, Hunter Miller , Dakota Hennigan 5. F 13-17 (7). Overall 5-13. Net at Fergus Falls in South Subsection -2A uarternals 7 p.m. hursday, March 1.

Detroit Lakes 59, Crosby-Ironton 54

DETROIT LAKES — Carsen Turk’s 17 points led Crosby-Ironton in

a 59-54 loss to Detroit Lakes in a Mid-State Conference game Monday, March 15. Frank Meyer totaled 12 points and Jordan Oehrlein added 11. Dietrich Wingarner tallied 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Detroit Lakes 25 34 — 59 Crosby-Ironton 24 30 — 54 DETROIT LAKES Cihak 14, obkin 2, loege , Dieadle 9, Solberg 4, Berg , Oistad 1. F 1-4 (39), F 13-19 (). 3-point 1-27 (37). CROSBY-IRONTON Carsen urk 17, abe Kramer 4, Frank Meyer 12, Dietrich Winegarner 1, Jordan Oehrlein 11. F 2-57 (35), F 11-22 (5). 3-point 3-2 (12). Conference 4-4. Overall 9-. Net hosts Aitkin in Section 7-2A opening round  p.m. Wednesday, March 17.

Wild’s newest star Kaprizov has some Ovechkin in him By Dane Mizutani St. Paul Pioneer Press

David Berding / USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Wild left wing Kirill Kaprizov (97) and defensemen Jonas Brodin (25) and Matt Dumba (24) celebrate after defeating the Arizona Coyotes at Xcel Energy Center on Friday, March 12.

Dean Evason was an assistant coach with the Washington Capitals at the start of the Alex Ovechkin era. He remembers how the 20-year-old Russian took the NHL by storm with 52 goals and 54 assists as a rookie. He also remembers how the future face of the franchise sparked such joy within the team. “When he first came in, my gosh, he was so fun to be around,” Evason said. “Just his excitement level on the ice, jumping into the glass, being excited for his teammates, all that good stuff. Then off the ice, same thing, in the weight room, in the dressing room. He was just a fun guy to be around.” That is kind of the way

Evason talks about Wild rookie Kirill Kaprizov these days. And he’s not alone. Ask any of his teammates or coaches and all would agree that the 23-year-old Russian forward has the innate ability to make people smile. That’s a skill Kaprizov showed long before he played a shift for the Wild. “We talked about Kirill when he first got here when training camp started,” Evason said. “He didn’t sit in the corner and not talk to anybody. Obviously there’s a language barrier and he’s learning and whatever. He didn’t shy away and sit in his stall. He was always around the guys talking and always with a smile.” In other words, Kaprizov quick-

ly endeared himself to his teammates with his infectious personality, and he has continued to do that with his incredible play this season. While he won’t come close to matching Ovechkin’s production as a rookie —Kaprizov has 10 goals and 14 assists in his first 26 NHL games this season — his overall impact on the franchise could be similar. A couple of months into his NHL career, Kaprizov already has many people in Minnesota excited about his and the Wild’s future. Not only is he the star the Wild have been waiting for in the way he can take over a game, he’s also proven capable of making everyone around him better.

WILD: Page 12

The Gophers ‘part ways’ with basketball coach Richard Pitino By Andy Greder St. Paul Pioneer Press Two years after winning his first NCAA Tournament game, Richard Pitino is out as Gophers head men’s basketball coach. The school announced the decision Monday night. Pitino failed to make the NCAA field this year and was out of the picture last season, before it was shut down due to the pandemic. When his team was bounced from the Big Ten Tournament in March 2020, Gophers Athletics Director Mark Coyle reiterated the goal of completing at a “championship level.” Pitino’s overall record at Minnesota - 141-123 since 2013 - hasn’t approached that bar. “I recently met with Richard and told him that we were moving in a different direction,” Coyle said. “Richard is a tremendous person and coach, and I want to thank him, Jill and their family for their commitment to Minnesota. We wish them well in

Bob DeChiara / USA TODAY Sports

New York Yankees starting pitcher J.A. Happ (33) pitches during the rst inning of a Sept. 2, 22, game against the Boston ed So at Fenway Park. Now a Minnesota win, Happ made his rst start of the spring for Minnesota Monday, March 15, after testing positive for COVID-19 upon intake testing. David Berding / USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota olden ophers head coach ichard Pitino looks on in the rst half during a game against the utgers Scarlet Knights on March , 221, at Williams Arena in Minneapolis. Pitino is out as ophers head mens basketball coach, the school announced Monday night, March 15, 221.

their next endeavor. in the nation, a historic com“Decisions like this are petition venue and a state never easy, but after eval- that produces top-caliber uating this season and the talent. This is an extremely previous eight years of our attractive job, and we will immediately start a nationprogram under Richard, it is wide search for our next head clear to me that new leadercoach.” ship is needed. We have one of the best practice facilities GOPHERS: Page 12

Twins pitcher J.A. Happ turns in scoreless outing whom he faced Monday, who By Betsy Helfand St. Paul Pioneer Press have had more severe cases, NORTH PORT, Fla. — Twins despite being in peak physical health. starting pitcher J.A. Happ feels Happ, who made his first fortunate. He’s heard stories start of the spring after testof people who have had to deal ing positive for COVID-19 upon with lingering effects from intake testing, escaped both of COVID-19. He’s heard about those fates. others, including Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman, TWINS: Page 12

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or the second year, your locally owned GuidePoint pharmacies have been named the Brainerd Lakes Area Best Pharmacy. We are truly honored by this recognition. We would like to thank all those who helped serve our customers with such amazing service and we would also like to thank those who have patronized our business over the last 19 years. We understand that we stay strong with community support and we strongly support our community.

BEST PLUMBER PIKE PLUMBING & HEATING 830 Brook Street, Brainerd • (218) 829-4332


ounded in 1940 by Roy Pike and later under the ownership of Kevin Gruber and Mike Anderson, Pike Plumbing and Heating has a long tradition of providing plumbing and heating services to the Brainerd lakes area. Now in our 81st year and under the ownership of Ben Schoepf, we continue to strive to provide the best workmanship in service, new construction and remodeling projects to residential and commercial plumbing and heating customers. Our experienced technicians specialize in repair, replacement and installation of quality plumbing, heating, air conditioning and hot water heating products. With a staff of 16 including six master plumbers and a fleet of signature red vans, Pike will continue to strive to offer the best products and cost-effective solutions for your plumbing and heating needs. Quality work and excellent customer service are our priorities. Thank you to our loyal customers and to our hard working and dedicated employees for making Pike the Best Plumber of the Brainerd Lakes. Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021 | 67



The Chad Schwendeman Real Estate Group at EXIT Lakes Realty Premier • (218) 416-4056 am very honored to be named the top real estate agent in the Brainerd lakes area for a third year. Being raised in the Brainerd lakes area, it has been really incredible working in the town that I grew up in. I love the fact that the Brainerd area continues to be a destination area for both vacations and year-round residents. Over my 20-plus years of being a licensed real

estate agent, it has been very rewarding helping clients and now, in some cases, their kids find or sell their home. Both myself and my team are committed to trying to make the real estate process as smooth as possible. I really want to surround myself with the very best. From our agents, to our preferred lenders, preferred title companies, preferred home inspectors, etc. I love it when a cli-

ent comments that this was the best real estate transaction they have been a part of. Working on the process and ensuring every customer becomes a raving fan the main reason over 50% of my business is past clients and referrals. I don’t want my clients to just use me one time, but rather I want to be their real estate agent for life.


34686 Hay Creek Trail, Pine River • (218) 270-0009


eumann Construction was founded by Sev Neumann in 2005. With a strong commitment to the area, he forged a long-lasting relationship with the lakes area by offering the best quality construction and industry leading customer service. Continuing in that commitment, new owner Cory Jay is thrilled to have the opportunity to take the company to the next level and he truly appreciates being a part of the name Sev and John built in the community by reliably serving Brainerd lakes homeowners for years to come.

Proud to be your Local Florist and Appreciate your votes in making us one of the top winners in TWO Categories of the BEST OF Contest!

4484 MAIN STREET • PEQUOT LAKES, MINNESOTA • 218.568.5454 68 | Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021



ere at Caribbean Beach Tanning Salon, we just celebrated our 16th anniversary. We have two reasons we believe we were voted the No. 1 tanning salon in the Brainerd lakes area. First, we know we have the best customers. We are so grateful that our customers have trusted our guidance with tanning, spray tanning, massage and skin care needs for so many years. The second reason is our amazing staff. Many people have made up our staff throughout this amazing journey. Again, we are grateful for their hard work, dedication and commitment to tanning/skin care education over the years. We want to simply say thank you and we are so happy to be able to spread sunshine in the Brainerd lakes area. #shoplocal #lakesproud










2019 2021


611 Washington Street, Brainerd (218) 828-6500







a en isp ted by the Brainerd D

• Weekly mowing & trimming • Landscape & Landscape maintenance • Spring & fall cleanup • Aerating


• Fertilization • Irrigation • Snow removal • Property Maintenance

Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021 | 69


5906 Pine Beach Rd., Brainerd • (218) 825-8207


hank you to all of our customers. All of us here at Mike’s Tree Company are honored in knowing our community has voted us the No. 1 tree company in the Brainerd lakes area for a third time. Mike’s Tree Company started out in 1995 by Mike Schwarze, a Brainerd High School student, who had a pickup truck, a strong work ethic and a pocket full of dreams.

Now a company of 20-plus strong, the same values, dedication to customer service and quality work still rings true. It’s our mission to provide our community with exceptional tree care and science-based services for the preservation of trees for generations to come. We offer a wide range of services, from tree health care, tree removal and trimming, commercial snow removal, tree planting and mulch. We love where we

live and take great pride in being active in our community. We provide a free residential drop off site and donate to several local organizations within the area. We will continually strive to provide the best tree care possible within the lakes area. Thanks again Brainerd lakes area for taking the time in voting us No. 1. At Mike’s Tree Company - Your Trees are Our Passion.

THANK YOU Voted #2 Newspaper in the Best of the Brainerd Lakes Contest

Thanks for supporting our weekly community publication. Our staff works hard to keep you informed about local news, sports and information.

70 | Best of the Brainerd Lakes 2021

One of the best bbq ribs we have ever had! The walleye is also terrific! Yum! -Carolyn

Love Dunmire’s and the crew can’t get my family to go anywhere else -Laurie and eat

One of my favorite date night places!!


Your fried pickles are pretty amazing! -Brooke

Grilled Mac & Cheese, Thats my go to. Freakin amazing - Collin

Mouthwatering Prime Rib

One of my favorite date nigh places!! -Whitney

- Happy Customer

We use the freshest veggies and only quality proteins.

- Chris Dunmire

Your fried pickles are pretty amazing! -Brooke

Thank you for making us the

One of the best bbq ribs we have ever had! The walleye is also terrific! Yum! -Carolyn

Fish tacos!!! Kelly Your AYCE ribs are - Tory amazing.

best place around love it

Great place for a meal. Wonderful food and great staff. Thank you all for making our meals enjoyable! -Teri

- Laura

Best Mac & Cheese around

- Sam

Buffalo Chicken Mac, SOOOOOOO GOOD!!!!! - Amber

I love that meatloaf! -Taylor

Great place for a meal. Wonderful food and great staff. Thank you all for making our meals enjoyable! -Teri


218-454-0625 •

Thank you for voting us Best Law Firm in the Brainerd Lakes Area!




2019 2021

a en isp ted by the Brainerd D











THE BRAINERD LAKES a en isp ted by the Brainerd D






a en isp ted by the Brainerd D













Michelle Francis


John Raboin


Your Local Personal Injury Law Firm 218-828-9211 |

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