FAIRMONT - Sarah and Nate Brown purchased the former Sirloin House on July 31. The Fairmont couple has spent the past four months bringing the building back to life and making it their own, starting with its name: Serenade's By The Lake.
"Serenade" is a play on their names, Nate acknowledged, but it also reflects the kind of atmosphere they want to provide.
"Our whole mission statement, from the beginning, has been: excellent service, excellent food, in a relaxed, spacious environment," Sarah said.
A vendor for Serenade’s By The Lake works at his laptop in the establishment’s casual dining grill. The grill will be open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. Fine dining will be available Wednesday through Sunday evenings.
Pictured is the fine dining side of Serenade’s By The Lake, set up for the invite-only soft openings this weekend. In the foreground, Sarah Brown, right, discusses last-minute details with head chef John Lowery. The restaurant is slated to officially open Wednesday. Reservations are encouraged for fine dining.
Wednesday is the official opening day, but before the establishment is ready to serve customers, the owners are hosting several invite-only "soft openings" for staff training.
"Customer service and customer satisfaction, doing things right, all of that is really ingrained in me," said Sarah, who originally hails from northern Minnesota, where her family was in the resort business.
When patrons walk through the main entrance of Serenade's into the spacious lobby, they have their choice of fine or casual dining.
On the north side, in what the Sirloin House used to call the "Fireside Lounge," there is now a grill, with servers in polo shirts and nice jeans, a classic grill menu, big-screen TVs to watch the game, and a casual family-friendly atmosphere. Casual dining will be available seven days per week, for lunch and supper.
On the south side is the fine dining, with cloth napkins, linen tablecloths, candles, servers in long-sleeve button-downs with bowties, and a wine steward.
Steak and lobster are two of the choices available for diners, but knowing the importance of pork for the local economy, the Browns also wanted several pork entrees on the menu.
"We offer the full fine-dining experience if people want to experience that," Nate said, "... but there's no dress code. If people want to dress up, they'll feel at home, but it's not a requirement."
But fine dining is about more than just the atmosphere. It's about the food. Realizing this, the Browns are feeling confident and excited to introduce their chef's skills to the Fairmont community. Twice, chef John Lowery has earned "best steak of the year" in the Mankato area.
"A lot of people have become foodies," Nate said.
"And they won't be disappointed," Sarah added. "He is all about presentation and fresh food."
Fine dining will be available for dinner Wednesday through Sunday. Reservations are encouraged.
Though the doors haven't opened yet, the Browns are already planning for what's next. They plan to branch out with their menu to offer seasonal specials, and they're both looking forward to the day they can offer live music.
Though Serenade's hasn't opened yet, it's already in demand. The establishment's banquet room, which can seat 38, is mostly booked on the weekends through January.
Hours for Serenade's By The Lake, at 2321 Albion Ave., will be 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days per week for the grill, and 5-9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday for fine dining.
To make a reservation, call (507) 235-3856.