The Owners of the Suburban Sports Bar in Excelsior Share Their Recipe for a Casual Holiday Gathering

One local family shares the secrets behind their festive brunch bash­—from the cocktails to the food to the music.

The Berset family works hard and plays hard—and they do almost all of it close to Lake Minnetonka. Cindy Berset, with her daughters Kelsey and Ashley, opened The Suburban sports bar in Excelsior in 2014. The trio’s casual clothing boutique, Buck + Fir, followed in 2015 just down the road.

“We’re deeply embedded in the community,” says Kelsey. “This is the nucleus, the center point of our entire lives—from going to Maynard’s, celebrating the Fourth of July, holiday shopping. When everything was falling into place [for the restaurant], we knew it had to be right here.”

A couple of years ago, the Bersets’ extended-family Christmas party was lacking a host. And with 21 Minnetonka High School alumni (and counting) in the clan, it made sense to keep the party in town. “We thought, ‘We have this giant space available; why aren’t we using it?’ It’s kind of amazing,” says Kelsey. Now, about 25 people, ages 2 to 59, come from St. Louis Park, Minnetonka, Chanhassen, Victoria and Deephaven to celebrate, Suburban-style. On Christmas Day, when the eatery is closed to the public, all 16 of the restaurant’s TVs will be tuned to Christmas movies (with at least one on the Yule Log), the sound system will be blasting holiday tunes, the ovens will be turning out a delicious brunch, and the annual Berset family celebration will be in full swing.

Ashley is in charge of décor, and in keeping with the vibe of the rest of the Berset holiday affair, she prefers to keep the look casual, layered and fun. “I layer in old family heirloom pieces with some new pieces to keep it feeling fresh,” Ashley says. “We have these wine glasses with winter scenes on them that we have been using for nearly 15 years, and the usual Christmas china that has been passed down. I’ll pair new paper napkins with a modern design—we usually go next door to Provisions for these—and some ribbon, greenery or garlands for some flair.”

“At the restaurant, I like to use tablecloths to make people feel like we’re in someone’s home,” says Ashley. Comfy and laid-back fits the group to a T in terms of décor and dress code. “The Berset family Christmas is a super-casual affair,” adds Ashley. “You’ll see lots of ugly Christmas sweaters, holiday-themed graphic tees, jeans and flannels.”

The Playlist

“When my brother and sisters were kids, our mom and dad would always host this breakfast with a background of Christmas music that consisted of their favorites, like Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra and others from that era,” says Bob Berset, Cindy’s husband and Kelsey and Ashley’s dad. “As the years passed and we began to take turns hosting the Christmas Day activities, we added songs that represented the more recent tastes of both our kids and ourselves.” Without further ado, here’s a collection of some of the Bersets’ favorite tunes to help get you and yours into the Christmas spirit:

“All I Want for Christmas Is You,” Mariah Carey
“Blue Christmas,” Elvis Presley
“Do They Know It’s Christmas?” Band Aid
“The First Noel,” Nat King Cole
“Frosty the Snowman,” Jimmy Durante
“Happy Christmas,” John Lennon & Yoko Ono
“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” Frank Sinatra
“I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” Jimmy Boyd
“It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” Johnny Mathis
“Let It Snow,” Dean Martin

The Food

It goes without saying that a family with a sports bar—and the pizza oven, griddle, and full bar that come with it—can put together a mean party menu. “We push the tables together into one long community table you can’t get in a house,” explains Kelsey. “We have brunch and games and nosh all day.” At your own family’s Christmas brunch, try the Bersets’ favorite breakfast pizza (it’s become a tradition)—and a zippy bloody Mary recipe to wash it down.


Suburban Breakfast Pizza
Serves 10–12

Members of the Bersets’ extended family used to own Frankie’s Pizza restaurants, so “we have a ton of pizza cooks in our family—it was a natural fit!” says Kelsey. The Bersets’ homemade crust recipe is top-secret, though, so make do with your own variation or a recommended store-bought version.

  • 6 Pillsbury thin pizza crusts or 6 Boboli 12-inch thin pizza crusts
  • 12 eggs, scrambled and seasoned with salt and pepper
  • Non-stick spray and cornmeal, if using Pillsbury crusts
  • Garlic cream sauce (recipe below)
  • 3 c. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Assorted diced meats (e.g., breakfast sausage, bacon, kielbasa, ham)
  • Assorted diced veggies (e.g., onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, jalapeños, caramelized onions)

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. (If your pizza crusts require pre-baking before adding toppings, bake according to instructions.)

Spread each pizza crust with a few tablespoons of garlic cream sauce. Top with 1/6 of the scrambled eggs. Top scrambled eggs with assorted veggies and meats. Finish each crust with ½ c. shredded cheddar and ½ c. shredded mozzarella cheese.

Bake pizzas for 8 to 12 minutes, or until golden-brown. Cut into slices and serve.

Garlic Cream Sauce for Breakfast Pizza

  • 4 c. heavy cream
  • 4 T. minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Bring heavy cream and garlic to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Cook on a slow simmer for two hours or until thick and creamy. Finish with salt and pepper to taste. Cool the sauce and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. It’s best spread on the crust after it is chilled.

Sriracha Bloody Mary Mix
Serves 10

  • 1 46-oz. container tomato juice
  • ¼ c. Sriracha sauce
  • ¼ c. freshly grated horseradish
  • 1 Tbsp. ground white pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. Tabasco sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. celery salt plus more for garnish
  • 1 Tbsp. olive juice
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Vodka

Whisk together everything except the vodka in a large pitcher. Rim 12-ounce glasses with celery salt. Pour 1½ to 2 oz. of vodka over ice, fill to the top with bloody Mary mix, and serve with a selection of garnishes. Need some suggestions? Try pickles, celery sticks, cheese curds, Mackenthun’s beef sticks, hot sauces, bacon, jalapeños, lemon or lime wedges, pepperoncini, and so on. Grab a slice of breakfast pizza, take a sip, and enjoy.