Less than a mile separates the resorts that bear their names and both facilities became emblematic of the type of quality service and hospitality that travelers associate with the Brainerd lakes area.
Madden's Resort on Gull Lake has a history that dates back to the 1930s, when Jim and his brother, Jack, first began catering to the lodging and eating needs of vacationers. The Madden brothers, along with business partner John Arnold, changed the public's mindset about what a Brainerd area vacation was all about. Roughing it wasn't the only way to go, once the Maddens were established with their beautifully landscaped complex. The Maddens saw tremendous potential in the convention and golf business that now is a staple of the area's hospitality industry.
Like most good business people, Madden recognized the value of promoting the area through trade organizations. He was active in the Minnesota Hotel Association and the Minnesota Resort Association. In 1994 Madden was inducted into the Minnesota Hospitality Hall of Fame.
Kavanaugh and his wife, Mae, were relative latecomers to the lakes area, opening their then-small Sylvan Lake resort in 1969. Their popular restaurant came some time later to the delight of their lodgers and other hungry patrons.
Kavanaugh's Resort and Restaurant has been a family operation, which has added to its charm. It even features a restaurant hallway decorated with family photos. The photo display, like most family albums, provides a fun glimpse at how fashions and hair styles have changed over the years.
Kavanaugh was active in the tourism industry, serving as president of the Minnesota Resort Association and being named Resorter of the Year in 1988. He also pitched in with civic affairs serving 22 years on the East Gull Lake City Council and working for many years to develop the current sewer system in East Gull Lake.
Kavanaugh and Madden were excellent representatives of a host of people in the hospitality industry who worked hard to make the Brainerd area an important destination for generations of travelers.
Those of us who enjoy the benefits of this area's fine restaurants and accommodations owe a lot to the men and women who worked hard to earn the Brainerd lakes area the good reputation it enjoys today in this area.
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