Hostel Hornet opens in Frazee
With its wooden ceiling beams and wood-lined walls, the inside of the Hostel Hornet in Frazee looks like a lodge... kind of has that cozy, hostel feeling.
And with its green and black paint and furniture, it's clearly Frazee-Vergas Hornets territory.
Put the two together, add great burgers and bar drinks, and you have the Hostel Hornet -- filling a void that was left in downtown Frazee after George and Becky's moved to Detroit Lakes.
The Hostel Hornet is owned by Michael Mercil, who also owns the Speak Easy restaurant and bar in Detroit Lakes.
A gift card purchased at either one will be good at both, and the common theme at both places is great food and good service, Mercil said.
Rather than Italian food, the Hostel Hornet will feature gourmet burgers, ribs and homemade soups. An expanded menu will be offered starting next month.
"We've been growing the menu a little all the time," since the first "soft opening" for the snowplow parade on Nov. 29. Mercil said.
"We've been welcomed with open arms in this community," said manager Mike Berg. "We're creating that buzz with the Hornet being open."
There is a large bar on one end of the room that offers eight beers on tap and a full service bar, with darts, pool, video games and an old CD-style juke box that's "kind of fun to mess with," Berg said.
A pull tab booth is coming, to be run by the Minnesota Flyers gymnastics organization.
With big windows looking out on downtown Frazee, the restaurant has lots of natural light during the daytime, and nice lantern-style lights in the windows and dining area that glow in the evening.
The Hostel Hornet anchors one corner of Frazee's busiest downtown intersection.
"It's a great location -- central to everything that's going on here," Berg said.
A high-definition TV system is on the way, with a number of TV sets and the capability to show several games at once.
"We'll have multiple sports packages here so you'll be able to surf the channels and hopefully find the game of your choice," Berg said.
For $9 at the Hostel Hornet, you can get one of a half-dozen gourmet burgers, which are all "juicy, great-tasting, hand-patted fresh hamburger" double quarter pounders, served with fries, Berg said.
"The Lodge Burger is our No. 1 seller right now," he said. "It has cheddar cheese, bacon and onion aioli, a roasted onion mayo sauce, that people just love."
"We're known for our burgers -- this is a burger joint for sure," Mercil said.
The Swiss onion burger and Reuben burgers are popular, Berg said and "our rib dinner is going like crazy -- they love that."
A regular $7 burger is available, and wintertime comfort foods like homemade macaroni and cheese and homemade soups are on the menu.
Pizza is made-to-order and available late for bar customers.
"We have a great pizza oven," Berg said. "It's done on a conveyor, so it's consistent and good all the time.
The Hostel Hornet opens every day of the week at 11 a.m.
Rose Anderson is the executive chef.
"She's just awesome to work with," Berg said. "She's doing a great job."
The regular kitchen menu closes at 10 p.m. on weekends and 9 p.m. on weekdays, but the pizza will always be available "during late-night hours, kind of during bar hours," Berg said.
Berg would like to capture some high school business during the lunch hour by offering $6 burger-fries-drink specials to high school students, and perhaps a similar special to school staff.
The interior didn't need a lot of improvements, but the ceiling has been repainted green and black and the dining room chairs have been re-covered in green and black.
"We will always cater to a smaller town, we feel that's what we've done," Mercil said. "They absolutely love that we picked the Hornet name -- they've been giving us memorabilia from the high school."
Basketball, wrestling, dance and baseball uniforms hang on the walls, and a short row of Hornet-green lockers stand just inside the main entrance.
"We want to make this a nice, warm, fun, relaxed place," Berg said. "We want to make everyone happy who walks through that door."
"A lot of upgrading was done to the kitchen equipment, that's a big expense -- it's not cheap to repair and replace a lot of that equipment."
There are currently about 20 employees at the Hostel Hornet, Mercil said. And they are key to the operation.
"Keeping good, reliable trustworthy staff is the No. 1 thing, and being able to capture an audience and keep them," Berg said.
The Hostel Hornet plans to have happy hour from 4-6 p.m. and entertainment on Saturday nights. The phone number is 218-850-3939.
"Whether you're local, or want to travel and make it a destination and have a good time -- this is it right here," Berg said with a smile.