A new restaurant opened in the lakes area Dec. 20.
Ernie's is the new enterprise in the former Ron's Steak House on Gull in East Gull Lake, which closed in October. The restaurant is named for Ernie Ritari, who owned and operated a bar at this site in the 1960s.
The restaurant is actually owned by a group of area business people who prefer to remain anonymous.
Madden's Resort will manage the restaurant, which is open Tuesday through Sunday.
A casual atmosphere includes home-cooked dining with hamburgers, stew-on-a-stick, meatloaf and homemade chicken potpie.
Ernie's will be open until early March when the restaurant will close for a makeover, which is in the planning stages. The restaurant will then reopen for the summer season.
The hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. during the week. The restaurant is open until midnight on weekends. And the eatery is closed Mondays.
Kathy Reichenbach, Madden's advertising/public relations representative, said the Gull Point location is a great one with strong snowmobile traffic providing a good early start for the restaurant. Ernie's employs about 15.
"The lake really needs some place like this open again," Reichenbach said, adding the restaurant is offering good, reasonably priced food.
An area snowmobile club is sponsoring a radar run Dec. 30 at the restaurant that is expected to provide more exposure.
Most Minnesotans want smoke-free restaurants and certain bars, according to a St. Cloud State University study released in mid-December.
The survey of adult Minnesotans found that 56 percent "strongly agree" or "agree" that smoking should be prohibited in restaurants or bars that serve food.
For the Minnesota Smoke-Free Coalition, the study results confirm that secondhand smoke is a growing health concern.
Coalition officials also stated the survey is significant because it included bars in the question.
"As a result, the coalition believes the support documented in the SCSU study is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of public support for smoke-free restaurants and public establishments," the group reported in a news release.
The coalition considers the results as hopeful when looking at the Jan. 23 vote for a smoke-free restaurant ordinance by Little Falls residents.
"The SCSU survey results confirm this is a growing health concern," said Judy Knapp, of the Minnesota Smoke-Free Coalition, in a news release.
"A recent Minnesota study found that nine out of 10 Minnesotans agree that secondhand smoke is harmful to adults and children. This increasing awareness that secondhand smoke causes lung cancer, heart disease and asthma is causing more communities to call for smoke-free indoor environments. ...
"We believe that the SCSU survey merely scratches the surface of public support for smoke-free establishments. ...
"More communities throughout the state are looking to follow the lead of Moose Lake, Duluth and Little Falls because residents realize that clean air is just as important as clean food and clean water when we eat out."
Knapp said secondhand smoke kills 53,000 non-smoking Americans every year, making it the third-leading cause of preventable death in the U.S.
Minnesota unemployment is still below the national rate. Minnesota Department of Economic Security Commissioner Earl Wilson announced Dec. 19 that Minnesota's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for November was 3.1 percent.
November unemployment was up from October, but still well under the national rate of 4 percent.
November saw a seasonally adjusted addition of 6,100 jobs in Minnesota. Construction, nondurable manufacturing, transportation, communication, and public utilities, wholesale trade, and retail trade all enjoyed seasonally adjusted increases during the month.
The state's unadjusted unemployment rate was 2.7 percent in November, up by three-tenths percent from last month.
Vehicles are reported to be on the way for the Pine River Chrysler Center. The center, renamed after the Osterloh car dealership closed, announced that its service doors were open starting Dec. 18.
The Healing Center, 626 Oak St. in Brainerd, opened about two months ago. Ruth Leigh, center director, said it is a non-profit, nondenominational place where people can go and receive prayer assistance. The Healing Center is open Tuesdays.
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