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Lakeside Haunts: Zorbaz a popular hangout in Minnesota lakes country

Zorbaz servers Chloe Rieger, left, and Lydia Danielson serve pizza to from left, Bonita Hanson, Krista and Waylin Olson and Shana and Reagan Wilson at Zorbaz on Pelican Lake. Carrie Snyder / The Forum

PELICAN LAKE, Minn. - The Zorbaz on Little Pine Lake was a memorable part of the lakes experience for Jerilyn Sheryak as she grew up near Perham.

When she was 18, Sheryak landed a job at the Zorbaz on Pelican Lake, working in the kitchen.

Now 30, she owns the restaurant and bar whose name has become ubiquitous in Minnesota lakes country.

Zorbaz has nine locations in Minnesota and a 10th will open next year on Green Lake near Spicer. The Pelican Lake location, across the road from the north shore of the popular Otter Tail County destination, is 45 miles southeast of Fargo.

"I am absolutely passionate about this place. We're like the foundation of the lakes fun," said Sheryak, a partner in the company started by Tom Hanson in 1969, when the first Zorbaz opened in Detroit Lakes.

Sheryak said Hanson is still deeply involved with the company and instrumental in finding new sites.

Hanson's son, Cole, is now the president of Zorbaz and oversees the company's overall operation, said Sheryak, who became owner/operator of the Pelican Lake location in 2004.

The Pelican Lake site, the third Zorbaz restaurant after Detroit Lakes and Little Pine, opened in 1987 on what used to be the Froelich Marine property.

"A majority of our guests come from Pelican Lake and then Cormorant, Ida and Lida," Sheryak said, rattling off the names of nearby lakes.

The restaurant is a stone's throw from Pelican Lake, where the restaurant owns a large dock complex that accommodates 21 boats and is essentially a floating parking lot.

"What's cool about Zorbaz, we're not just a bar," Sheryak said. "We're so family- and kid-friendly." She said family time begins in the morning and runs until 10 p.m., when the place turns into "Club Zorbaz," with music and dancing.

While the Detroit Lakes restaurant is open year-round, the Pelican Lake Zorbaz operates six months a year.

"We open May 1 and end the year with a big Halloween bash," Sheryak said.

The peak of the summer season is July Fourth, a time Sheryak likes to refer to as "Super Bowl week."

Since becoming owner in 2004, Sheryak has seen firsthand the loyalty of her guests.

"The ones that were coming in to drink beer, now they're here during the day, with their family and kids," Sheryak said, adding, "It's all about making great memories."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555