Ken Schienbein may be just one area business owner who is glad the Twins are not in the World Series this week.
Schienbein's new restaurant has been doing well in the fall season. But he said there was a noticeable drop during the baseball playoffs.
"I think the only thing that really hurt us has been the Twins game," Schienbein said. "Other than that it's been pretty solid. We're just trying to create a friendly family aspect. We're focusing on service and enthusiasm and getting to know the customers."
The restaurant north of Brainerd has a decidedly Western feel to it from the longhorns mounted on the wall to the sculpture of a cowboy with a saddle. Latigos Restaurant and Steakhouse opened in August on Highway 371 North near Brainerd International Raceway. Schienbein owns and operates the restaurant.
Schienbein worked at an area franchise restaurant for 20 years before he said corporate headaches led to a dream of owning his own restaurant.
In doing so he combined his other interests of raising quarter horses and Texas longhorns.
Deli Lane in the Raceway 66 convenience store next to Latigos Restaurant and Steakhouse will expand its food options with a sandwich deli and bakery, with an eye toward holiday pie sales. The additions should be completed in about three weeks.
Schienbein said he wanted to tie his personal life into the restaurant's theme. A friend made a display to help explain the name to guests. Latigo is used as the name for a strap that secures a saddle to a horse by use of a specialized knot to tighten the girth or cinch under the horse's belly. It is often called a cinch strap. Latigos is actually Spanish for whip or lash.
The restaurant's name has a few people confounded on how to pronounce the word. It may be easiest just to say it is not pronounced La-tee-go.
Schienbein said he focused on the steakhouse idea with Angus steak in porter, ribeye, filet and sirloin cuts because whenever he wanted a good steak he had to go home to cook it. But he said the restaurant is not limited to steaks.
"I bet we've sold more liver and onions than anything," he said.
Also on the menu are barbecue ribs, fish, seafood and pasta. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the restaurant seats 96, including a side room for groups that can accommodate 30 to 35 people. Schienbein said he is booking groups for holiday parties and corporate meetings. The restaurant also caters and handled an group of 1,200 this summer.
With the new location, Schienbein was able to look at the restaurant's layout and design. He said the setting allows for efficiency in how food is handled and the kitchen is user friendly.
Linda Forcier (left), Raceway 66 convenience store manager, and Ken Schienbein, Latigos Restaurant and Steakhouse owner, recently talked about the newly opened restaurant and about plans for additions to the convenience store deli area. Forcier and Schienbein will be operating the convenience store deli. (Dispatch Photos by Renee Richardson)
Latigos employees about 15 people. Schienbein said one of the keys has been employees with 10 to 15 years experience in the industry.
Even with the location next to the raceway and along a busy highway, Schienbein said 90 percent of his business comes from area residents. A residential area around Green Gables Road and the surrounding areas create its own neighborhood location.
And Schienbein wanted to emphasize the restaurant is not owned by the raceway's owner. Schienbein is also taking over operations of the next door Raceway 66 convenience store, which is owned by BIR. He said the key manager in the store is Linda Forcier and they have a free hand in operations from the ownership. Schienbein said he sees the Raceway 66 as a complement to his restaurant and Forcier wanted to create something that would let the store stand out from the multitude of convenience stores in the area.
Changes in the convenience store include adding a sandwich deli and bakery to the existing Deli Lane area of the store. Additions to the basic clubs and ham and cheese include specialty sandwiches such as sweet and sour pork, pesto chicken salad, Mediterranean tuna and roast pork with apple butter and caramelized onions.
"We want to feature some fancy ones just to see if they work or not -- they sound good," Schienbein said.
The sandwich deli will also include meats and breads so customers can come in and take out so they make their own sandwiches. And breakfast sandwiches are included along with other offerings of pizza and hamburgers. The bakery side includes cookies, muffins, doughnuts and pies.
The convenience store is also adding video and DVD rentals in the next two weeks.
At the restaurant, Schienbein said people are beginning to realize the restaurant has more than dinner steaks and the Sunday breakfast and lunch traffic is getting busier.
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