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WIld Mountain 12-8-13

home : news : news May 29, 2016

2/20/2014 3:44:00 PM
McKenzies to close Swedish Inn, selling site to local restaurateurs
Trudy and Mike McKenzie are retiring from the restaurant business and will make Feb. 25 their last day of service. They will hand over the keys to Tony and Shawna Schroepfer, who will be bringing fresh-made pasta and brick oven pizza while keeping breakfast and other menu standards for a planned opening March 7.
Trudy and Mike McKenzie are retiring from the restaurant business and will make Feb. 25 their last day of service. They will hand over the keys to Tony and Shawna Schroepfer, who will be bringing fresh-made pasta and brick oven pizza while keeping breakfast and other menu standards for a planned opening March 7.
by PAUL RIGNELL


When Mike McKenzie fries his last strip of bacon for a “Crazy Eight” breakfast combo or “Swedish” Combo cheeseburger on February 25, McKenzie will have worked in Swedish Inn kitchens for 35 years. He started in high school washing dishes for previous owner Myron “Pinky” Morrison. The teenager moved to grill work not much more than a month later, and through his next 13 years of employment he often heard Morrison say that McKenzie would make a suitable new owner for the family restaurant at 12678 Lake Blvd.

Mike’s wife, Trudy, also worked for Morrison for a short while before Mike and Trudy decided they would make an offer to buy the business, and the Swedish Inn became the McKenzie family’s second home in 1992. Their first son, Alex, is now 21 and his brother, Jake, is 18. Trudy recalls Alex busing carts of dishes when he could barely see above the table tops. Patrons from the Sunday church crowd would give him dollar tips. The McKenzies have had several adult family members as valued employees through the years. When their last dinner at the Swedish Inn is served next Tuesday, Mike and Trudy will hand over the keys to another couple, Tony and Shawna Schroepfer, who have raised three children, Hailey, Tony and Drew. The Schroepfers opened Lindstrom’s roller rink, Warehouse 17, in June 2011 and they will be bringing Tony’s acclaimed pizza and other Italian dishes as Anthony’s Grill and Pizzeria opens. (Supporters of the Swedish Inn and McKenzie family should be pleased to know, however, that they can get crisp bacon at the renamed Anthony’s.)

The Schroepfers plan to reopen the restaurant doors 5 a.m. Friday, March 7, and serve breakfast and maybe some other favorite Swedish Inn dishes seven days a week. Thanking the community Married for nearly 27 years, Mike and Trudy McKenzie know each other well and agree they will not re-enter the restaurant business. But they’ll cherish memories with employees and patrons at the Swedish Inn. In the early years of their business ownership, “we did a lot of remodeling” while working to maintain a Swedish atmosphere and Swedish theme on the menu, Mike said. They were forced to rebuild the restaurant when a kitchen fire destroyed the first building May 4, 1995. The couple re-opened the rebuilt Swedish Inn four months later. Their base of regular patrons returned, and that group grew through succeeding years.

“The customers, they become like your family. They know you better than you know yourself some days,” Mike said. “(I will miss) their cheerfulness, their laughter, their jokes (often at my expense). I gave it right back to them.” Trudy said some guests have come in at the same time each day, weekdays and weekends, to sit at the same table. When an occasional conflict has prevented those people from visiting one day or another, they have called the Swedish Inn and told Mike, Trudy and staff not to worry. “We are kind of like a second home for some people,” Trudy said. Guests from St. Paul or Minneapolis, for example, who have stopped at the Swedish Inn during travel to Wisconsin, have recognized the couple in vacation spots from Grand Marais, Minn., to Florida. Mike hopes they have enjoyed his from-scratch cooking including soups, gravies, hand-cut French fries, homemade bread for French toast, and also Swedish meatballs served year-round (plus lefse and lutefisk in December).

He looks forward to the time when he will prepare those dishes at home, though. “The time is right,” Mike said of their business sale. “It’s good for me, good for Tony because he wants to do this, and I think it’s good for the community.” The Schroepfers will bring fresh-made pasta and brick oven pizza to the location. When they open Anthony’s Grill and Pizzeria in early March, their planned hours are 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 5 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday (and closed Monday). They are applying for a wine and 3.2 beer license, and Tony says he eventually plans to apply for a strong beer license so he can add craft beers to the options.





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