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Customer Spotlight: Surfside Bar & Grill
Meet Dan Zellmer, the owner of Surfside Bar and Grill. For someone who’s been in the restaurant business for 30 years, finding a location like Mound has been a true blessing.
“Out of all the restaurants I’ve done, this one has been accepted more than the others,” Dan said. “It seems like we’ve been here 20 years, not two.”
Dan Zellmer opened Surfside (on the east shore of Langdon Lake on Commerce Boulevard in the heart of the Minnetonka Lakes area) in April 2016, just more than two years ago. He moved to Minnesota from Arizona, where he ran other restaurants. “People typically move from cold climates to warm, but I’ve been here for 20 years now.”
Surfside is Dan’s eighth restaurant. Surfside describes itself as being “family-oriented,” and the building includes ample space for booking large group events.
“I live in Mound, and every time I drove past this building, it called my name. I saw the need for it,” said Dan. Even though Dan was “officially” retired, he couldn’t sit around for more than a day or two at a time and knew he needed something to do. He came out of retirement to put the restaurant together. “I love that this has evolved into a family business. My kids work here, and I hope they are able to take over someday and keep it in the family.”
Surfside Bar and Grill has been fully accepted by the community and has become a gathering place for the locals in Mound. Dan aims to play an important role in the community by participating in fundraisers and donating to different organizations, from schools to non-profits. Dan does “meal nights”—Tacos for the Teams—for the high school sports teams. In this way he’s able to give back to hockey, baseball, basketball, wrestling, cheerleading, and more. He also actively supports WeCAN, Westonka Food shelf, and the Mound Fire Department
“Surfside Bar and Grill fills a void that Mound had,” said Curt Nelson, Vice President-Lending for Minnesota Lakes Bank. “The restaurant offers a great value, and people recognize that. Dan works there every single day, and he keeps his thumb on things so the staff knows what he expects in terms of food quality and service.”
“We strive for great food, great service, and great prices,” Dan explained. “We’ve tried to respond to what our customers say they want, so we’re tweaking the menu as we go.”
“Surfside has a big history with the townspeople,” Curt explained. “There used to be an old Surfside restaurant down by the beach, and locals have fond memories of that place,” explains Curt. “However, what Dan has done with the facility is amazing.”
Dan bought the current Surfside building and immediately re-sided the building, gave it a new paint job, put on a new roof, and modeled the interior. He was considering opening a restaurant at a different location, but he knew the previous Surfside owner. The timing of the previous owner’s interest in selling and Dan’s interest in starting something new was meant to be. As he reflected on the first two years of operation, Dan is very thankful this location worked out instead of the other.
“We found that by offering good service and good food, everything else took care of itself,” Dan explained. “We’ve been well-received by the town. All I have to do is talk to the people sitting at the tables; they tell us how great things are. When you get comments like ‘awesome’ or ‘this is the best prime rib we’ve ever had,’ you know something is working.
“Customers can come in ten times and have nine great experiences, but they’re always going to focus on that one bad experience,” Dan observed. “It’s human nature. So, we have to ensure that our service is always spot-on.”
Dan notes that when you serve a limited amount of people in a small area, a bad review can go a long way. “In this business, you need to be on top of everything at all times.”
Dan’s duties as the owner/manager run the gamut from quality control of the prepared food to visiting with customers about how well they’re satisfied with their dining experience. Dan is proud of what he and his family (Sierra, Nicholas, and Jaxen) have built. “We get along very well and that’s not always the case in a family business,” he added.
Dan is thankful for Curt Nelson and Minnesota Lakes Bank. “When Curt moved to MNLB, we developed a relationship, and that became instrumental in me developing this space,” said Dan. “And that didn’t happen overnight; nothing this good happens overnight. When the crazy timing of this thing happened the way it did, Curt was great to work with so we could pull this together.”
Dan is now on a first-name basis with everyone at the Mound branch office. “Dan is here often enough that everyone knows him,” said Curt. “We understand his business, and I believe he appreciates that.”
“We try to make this a fun, family friendly place that locals want to frequent,” said Dan. “As a business owner, if there’s anything I can do locally, I will, and that includes my banking. I appreciate Minnesota Lakes Bank’s attention to our needs. I like the fact that they are involved in the community; I do that, too. It’s the way I think business should be done.”
Pictured top left: Curt Nelson, Vice President-Lending for Minnesota Lakes Bank, and Dan Zellmer, Owner of Surfside Bar & Grill
Pictured middle right: Ample seating in the restaurant creates a gathering place for the locals in Mound.
Pictured bottom left: The bar at Surfside Bar & Grill can accommodate a large group of people.