All with blonde hair and high heels, mother-and-daughter trio Cindy (mom), Ashley and Kelsey Berset are lifelong Excelsior residents. The ladies live, shop and dine in the area, and are familiar with the demographic, because frankly, they are the demographic—and that’s part of why they thought the lakeside city was a great choice for their new restaurant, The Suburban.
The Bersets decided to open a restaurant after trying out for a Food Network game show in March 2013; Cindy and Kelsey gave it their best, but ended as runners-up, and never had the opportunity to compete for the prize of a locally inspired food court restaurant in the Burnsville Shopping Center. Instead, it became an opportunity for Ashley to get involved in the project, and for the whole family to invest in a location that they cared about and knew better.
It started with the old lumber warehouse building just across the street from the Excelsior library, which had been vacant since September 2011, when Automated Building Components had moved out. When the Bersets discovered it was available, they knew they had to swoop in, even though they still weren’t set on the kind of restaurant they wanted to own. They visited the space and fell in love: The large-planked wood floors had a great vibe that they knew could only house one type of joint—a sports bar.
“When we went inside,” says Cindy, “it was just amazing, with hardwood floors and wood ceilings.”
In addition to the space being perfect for a sports bar, such a restaurant isn’t something Excelsior had seen before. The city’s restaurants feature tacos, sushi, Irish fare, coffee and pizza, but no sports bar.
“There’s really a gap in the market,” says Cindy. “There are no actual sports bars. There are restaurants with TVs, but no sports bars.”
Now that they had decided on a sports bar and a location, the Bersets needed to find capital to get the project rolling. They decided their venture might be one that they could get the community interested and involved in. Using the fundraising website Kickstarter, on July 3, 2013, they asked community members to financially support their restaurant project. By August 17, they had received the full $25,000 from 52 supporters—and The Suburban, their envisioned sports bar, became a reality.
“Just the whole interaction with the community has been amazing,” says Cindy. “This town is great. People here are super-sweet and really nice.”
The restaurant opened on April 25 after many renovations to the space and lots of time spent in test kitchens to refine the menu. The Suburban doesn’t serve its customers just an ordinary burger with cheese, says Ashley.
“There are things you wouldn’t think of putting on a burger,” she says.
Specialties include the “meet your maker” with bacon, cheddar cheese and pickled jalapenos and the picnic burger, with cheddar cheese, barbecue sauce, coleslaw and pickle.
The Bersets like a creative menu, but they are mindful as they make menu choices. There are gluten-free pizza options, plenty of salads and even a customizable burger that can fit the Paleo diet.
The trio is also conscientious about where the food is coming from. They’ve tried to stick with local vendors to ensure fresh food and to boost local economies. This includes local beer, such as picks from Lucid, Excelsior Brewery and Lake Monster Brewing, all from the western suburbs. The beef for the burgers is brought in from Peterson Farm, a Wisconsin-based company. The same beef is used at many restaurants in downtown and in Uptown Minneapolis, though The Suburban is the only western-suburb locale to use it, says Cindy. “[The cattle farmers] are so excited to start branching out.”
Says Ashley, “Our focus is urban taste in a suburban location. We understand the consumers, because we are the consumers.”
If you go:
342 Water St. Excelsior