Archive for the ‘Kruse’s Korner Article’ Category

Kruse’s Deer Lake Inn

Posted by

The Deer Lake Inn Properties were constructed in the late 1890s, when the Clarkston area was booming with the tourist trade. As Clarkston prospered, summer vacationers began to flock to Deer Lake, staying in private homes, small cottages, and at the Deer Lake Inn. William Barry, a Chicago Hotelier, anticipated the potential of the tourist market and summer getaway, and purchased the Inn, opening the doors on July 3, 1912.

The Deer Lake Inn was successful for the same reasons that Bill Barry himself was successful. With a belief system not unlike our own, Mr. Barry practiced hospitality, becoming close friends with his guests, and inviting them back for personal dinners and week-long getaways. When it came to the Inn’s dining room, Bill provided only the best. He brought in seasoned chefs and wait staff along with the freshest food available to provide a quality experience for each of his visitors.

Along with the palatial Inn, the guests enjoyed the main attraction, the lake itself, at a time when the normal swimming attire included full coats and long black hose for the women, with a $100 fine for insubordinates. Deer Lake was so popular that the railroad added 12 coaches to transport city dwellers to the suburban paradise. As time went on, and automobiles became a lifestyle staple, Deer Lake thrived with the fame of their food and service, with guests from as far away as Tokyo and New Zealand coming to bask in the summer sun.

William Barry eventually retired and sold the Deer Lake Inn Properties in 1925. The Great Depression hit hard, and along with vacations, the Deer Lake Inn became obsolete. It eventually succumbed to the times and was torn down. A small piece of history does remain, as you can still see stonework from the original foundation.

We believe that our property was originally home to a stagecoach stop in the early 1900s. Eventually the stop burned to the ground, and in 1957 the original Deer Lake Inn bar was constructed. They remained in business for 53 years, closing their doors in December of 2010.

The Face of Main Street

Posted by

How many times have you passed by the two English Figures gracing the front entry of our Kruse and Muer on Main Street without knowing the history?  It’s a good one!

When I bought the Main Street property in 1990, the storefront was already there, brought to Rochester by Clarence Kavan when he opened his restaurant in the early 1980s. I inherited them and never thought about removing such a landmark. During the recent road construction, trauma and faults were discovered in these historical fixtures, which we are taking steps to restore and preserve in the next few months. Here is the history of the Brass Rail figures:

The Brass Rail Wood & Wood Carving

The façade that now welcomes our guests at Kruse and Muer on Main was once a part of another family of restaurants, the Brass Rails. There were three: one at 20 W. Adams, another at Michigan and Griswold, and the third at 6545 Woodward Avenue. They were called “The Longest Bars in Michigan,” and offered spirits, live music, and good food. The first one opening in 1937, they flourished after prohibition, survived the Great Depression, and entertained many traveling musicians. The hot spot on Adams was notoriously noted as the place where musician Johnnie Ray was arrested for soliciting an undercover policeman.

The original Brass Rail, located on Michigan Avenue, opened in 1937, by owner Joseph Freedman, and Secretary / Treasurer William Boesky. Boesky later opened two more Brass Rail Restaurants, with one at 20 W. Adams, and the other on Woodward, just north of Grand River. Through the years the Brass Rails passed hands from Boesky to Al Shomsky. The last Brass Rail closed in the early 80s, under R. E. Guastuelo’s ownership. The hand carved wood storefronts that were once a part of the Michigan Avenue and Adams locations now rest at Kruse and Muer on Main Street in downtown Rochester, and Adair Bar, in St. Clair County.

The blueprint for the storefront was patented in 1942 by Joseph Freedman, the original owner of the Brass Rail on Michigan Avenue. The 1941 patent application states that Mr. Freedman “invented a new, original, and ornamental design for a storefront”.

The hand carved wooden façade itself is signed by Ted Rogvoy Architects and J. Jungwirth & Co. Rogvoy Architects is still in business today. A current employee of the company said “Ted Rogvoy started his business in 1929 in Detroit (during the Great Depression). He worked the merchants, restaurant owners, and bar owners in downtown Detroit and convinced them to redo their facilities…He would draw sketches for the owners on napkins while drinking in the bars!”

J. Jungwirth & Co. were nationally and internationally renowned for their wood carving workmanship. They were the skilled craftsmen who carved many of the woodworks for the Detroit area, including pieces in the Masonic Temple, various churches and private residences, and the Windsor, Ontario Walker’s Estate. It is rumored they were responsible for the “World’s Largest Stove,” and the “World’s Largest Tire.” There are many small pieces currently up for auction through Cranbrook Schools. Mr. Jungwirth’s son, Leonard Jungwirth, became a famous sculptor in his own right. He is responsible for the bronze Spartan statue that is housed in the Michigan State Spartan Stadium tower. It was moved there in 2005 to protect it from the outside elements.

Bill Kruse’s Year In Review…

Posted by

Believe it or not, it’s been one year since I first considered the Kruse’s Deer Lake Inn as our sixth restaurant venture. It’s taken longer, and has certainly been more costly than I originally planned for, but I’m sure it will be worth it in the long run. My sons Casey and Alex and I are most anxious to join the Clarkston community with some very good restaurants. I’m always a bit nervous to be opening in the presence of great competition, but don’t mistake the nervousness as a lack of confidence. I personally have gone through some 20 new restaurant openings and our preparation and experience will have us ready.

So… why did I decide to open number six?  I wanted the opportunity to do an opening with my sons Casey and Alex, and all the people I’ve developed along the way who now possess such great skills and confidence.

The people of Independence Township have been such a great help! Dave Belcher, the Township Building Inspector and Dick Carlisle, City Planner made it clear from the beginning that they would welcome a Kruse and Muer into the community.

Why Kruse’s Deer Lake Inn as a name? It was hard to neglect the history of this longstanding establishment and it seemed only fitting to carry on a tradition that began in the 1890s. Why not “Muer?” Well, it’s a new time and a new generation, one which was conceived by Alex, Casey and me, but will be carried on by the two of them. It’s their time… they have earned it and they will do just fine. I’m very proud of them.

Team Spotlight: Alex Kruse

Posted by

Bill Kruse was once described by Chuck Muer as the best “Saloon Keeper” he’d ever come across. Today Bill describes his son Alex the same way. He just seems to have that ability to connect with people and runs his restaurant that way with a real passion. Casey Kruse, Alex’s older brother who is also involved in the company business, once called his Dad, Bill, from the parking lot of the Kruse and Muer at the Village as he was looking through the front window of the restaurant to say, “Oh my gosh Dad…you cannot believe how Alex is running that restaurant tonight…he’s all over the place. You’d be very impressed.” Well yes I am impressed with Alex, the way he runs his restaurant and leads by example. His people are all a reflection of Alex and how he runs things.

When asked, Alex said of the new Kruse’s Deer Lake Inn in Clarkston/Independence Township, “I envision that Kruse’s Deer Lake Inn will become the future of the company. Back when my Dad was working for Chuck Muer, he developed the Tavern Division concept (Uptown Charley’s, Bloomfield Charley’s, etc.) which became a sustaining source of company income. My idea is that the new Deer Lake Inn concept, which combines some of the most popular menu items from Kruse and Muer as well as newly developed menu items, will be what propels this company into the future. My managers and I will always be there to meet and greet our new guests, welcoming them into the Kruse and Muer family. I want to capitalize on those things that have made Kruse and Muer so successful over the years with a new emphasis on beverage merchandising, which I think has long been neglected. Today’s new generation of the dining public is very interested in and knowledgeable about beverages, and those who don’t do something with it will be falling behind the competition. I really want to make this a fun place for me and the guests. I want to do late season Tigers and college football on the deck with ‘grilled to order hamburgers, hot dogs and some great beers in frosty 25 oz. mugs’. It has to be a restaurant that appeals to all ages, with a diverse menu that offers a little something for everyone’s taste and mood. All the people who have come in thus far are just wonderful and so happy that we are here! As for me… I feel very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to run a restaurant in such a “welcoming community” and pledge that I will do all that I know how to do to make this a place that everyone wants to call their own.”

Nightingale Construction Helps Us ‘Keep it Going’

Posted by

It takes a lot to maintain a business these days, with the economy, increased competition and a “changing world” of technology. After more than 20 years in business, our facilities can take quite a beating. We try to keep up with it all so our businesses always look fresh for our guests and we maintain a competitive edge. To make this happen, there is a lot of work going on behind-the-scenes (electrical, plumbing, roofing, floors and more).

The person who handles all of that behind-the-scenes work for us is Chad Nightingale of Nightingale Construction in Rochester. I was lucky to be referred to him by one of the Dillman and Upton boys. Chad provides 10 or more hours a week of repairs and maintenance for us and, believe me, there is plenty to keep him busy.

Our managers love Chad’s easy manner and the way he treats our business like it is his own. There are times when a Manager will call Chad for an emergency repair, and without his help we may lose an entire shift of business – a very costly loss for sure. Chad understands this and no matter what time of the day or week, he is always there for us. Chad lives in Rochester, with wife Emily, and children Mia, Will and Charlie.

We’re really glad that Chad Nightingale is part of the “Kruse & Muer ” team.

Bill Kruse

Guest Spotlight: Meet Steve Fleischer

Posted by

Kruse and Muer at the Lake is a place you will see many familiar faces return again and again. Some come to celebrate, some to enjoy holidays, and some just want to enjoy a beverage and an appetizer at the bar after a long day at work.

Steve Fleischer encompasses all of these. He frequents Lake Orion on holidays, the anniversary of his wife’s passing and her birthday, and to celebrate special occasions with family and friends. He meets his sons Steve and Mark, daughters-in-law Amy and Julie, and five grandchildren for midweek dinners; dines at lunch with clients, and catches up with the staff members while dining at the bar.

Steve has been coming to eat in this building since 1973, when it was Gus’s Roadhouse and all of its successors. Now he feels right at home with the Kruse and Muer operation. “The entire Kruse and Muer family always stops by to say hello to me, no matter which restaurant I may be dining in.”

He always has nice things to say of the Kruse boys: Bill, Casey and Alex, as well as the entire Lake Orion staff. “I’ve never heard a bad word about working for the family,” he said. “Bill Kruse is like Santa Claus, a jolly guy.” He said the staff takes after him, with their positive and friendly attitudes. “There are always people to talk to,” said Steve, as the interview was interrupted by an employee stopping to see how the weekend was with the family.

Steve says the best part of Kruse and Muer on the Lake, to put it simply, is excellence. “Every time I come, everything is perfect. I never have any problems,” he said. “The kitchen won’t send anything out that’s not up to par.”

Occasionally, Steve is treated to his own personal creation, with the Chef always happy to oblige. “When you’re not very hungry, artichoke dip with gulf shrimp and a stuffed mushroom cap on top is perfect,” he said. When guests have been coming long and frequently as Steve has, it’s easy to get creative and find the perfect dish to suit his tastes.

Steve holds a hand in the updating of the bar area, including a brand new flat screen TV. Every time Steve saw Bill, he would mention that a flat screen would be a nice addition. Steve playfully said, “Bill finally gave in, with a little push from Cindy Kruse.” Steve also is looking forward to the remodel of the Lake Orion location, which will include “The Porch,” with all windows opening to the outdoors. “It will be a great addition to the neighborhood, being able to look out at the lake and enjoy the good weather,” he said. He also is looking forward to adding it as another summer-time activity with his usual golfing and boating.

Steve Fleischer enjoys Kruse and Muer Lake Orion because it’s a friendly and relaxing atmosphere. There’s always a familiar face, always cheerful conversation, and occasionally,


Team Spotlight: Meet Jennifer Kloc

Posted by

One of the first things I learned about hiring employees was to seek out “good people”. That is, people who are genuinely nice, who treat people like they want to be treated and who would treat my business like it was their own. We were pretty certain we found just that kind of person back in 2001 when Casey Kruse hired Jennifer Kloc as a server at Kruse and Muer at the Village. That proved to be true. We have more guest requests for Jen as a server than any other person in the company. That’s because Jen genuinely likes her guests! It is business as usual to see her giving and getting hugs and sharing conversation at the tables. This is what differentiates our business from others and provides that needed boost in sales during difficult economic periods like we are now experiencing.

Now, a ten-year veteran, Jennifer speaks fondly of the friends she has met during the years. “I love that I can talk to people, laugh with them, cry with them, share stories, and I actually make a living doing it,” she said, smiling. “I have made many friends that come in and ask for me by name. Knowing people appreciate me has helped me get through some tough times in my life.”

Jennifer recalls all the fond memories from her experiences through the years: being covered head-to-toe in Charley’s Chowder due to a busy Mother’s Day mishap, serving Pistons’ Chauncey Billups during his Fox News interview at the restaurant, busy-day meltdowns servers have occasionally, and reassurances from Casey Kruse calming her and telling her she is the Village’s rock (to which many guests would agree!) Of all the memories, Jennifer said the most enjoyable times at Kruse and Muer aren’t the biggest moments, but the daily conversations that she shares with guests and co-workers. “Every day, all of my wonderful guests make me feel special,” she said.

Jennifer’s love of family may be the reason she fits the Kruse and Muer mold so well. She has been married for 23 years to her husband, Brian, has four children, John, Monica, Mike and Katie, and is the proud grandmother of Anthony and Ava. You may find them in and out of the restaurant, just dropping by, helping out, or bringing the grandkids in to meet all of Jennifer’s many wonderful friends. We’re very lucky to have Jennifer as part of the Kruse and Muer family.

Bill Kruse

Exciting Changes ‘At the Lake!’

Posted by

Kruse and Muer at the Lake opened in 2002 in the site of the landmark restaurant, Gus’s Steakhouse. In our nine years here we have become somewhat of a fixture in this community and have made lots of friends. I knew from the get go that this was a good place for us. When I met the Building Inspector, Tom Berger, he was bending over backwards to help me with the project. There was a lot of work to be done on that old building, but on February 23, 2002, we opened our doors to the community.

Over the course of time we have enjoyed meeting lots of new people for whom we have provided what have hopefully been many memorable experiences. The 2009 downturn in the economy has produced business challenges for everyone, but the Lake Orion Kruse and Muer has been particularly hard hit. Not only is everyone competing for a diminished consumer dollar, but there is a lot more competition now. So we decided it was time to make a change.

In July of this year we begin the process of becoming the “Kruse and Muer Roadhouse”. The plan was to add an outdoor deck facing Lapeer Road for dining and relaxing around a fire pit, overlooking Buckhorn Lake, but we were denied a variance request by the Zoning Board. Instead we have now designed the front room to become “The Porch,” with all windows opening to the outdoors. Additionally, every dining room will undergo a complete renovation with much focus on the upstairs dining areas. Private exclusive dining areas will be developed for what we hope will become some of the most intimate, classy rooms in the county.

The menu will not eliminate any of the Kruse and Muer classics, but will rather add a number of more casual selections at the low end of the menu and some great upper end additions. Whether it’s lounging on the Porch with friends for appetizers and drinks, or planning that special occasion event, The Roadhouse will be certain to fit the bill. New menus, new dining areas, new uniforms and a new attitude have us all extremely excited to move forward with a concept developed to reach out to all of our surrounding communities and to provide a fun new option for our Kruse and Muer guests.

Kruse and Muer at the Lake is not the only one getting a face lift. During the second half of 2011, two other Kruse and Muer locations will be making design and menu changes. Kruse and Muer on Wilshire in Troy will be adding two grand exterior signs, new seating, lighting, décor changes, and a new back bar. New additions to the menu will include more upper end steak and seafood items at the request of our weekday business guests. Kruse and Muer at the Village will be getting a whole new look with updated carpet, booth material, brand new chairs, outdoor awnings and a new gallery of pictures.

We invite you to come visit, check out our progress, and try out new menu items.

Anticipated Lake Orion Roadhouse Construction Schedule:

New Blue Wall, Walkways & Stairs 07/25
Porch Dining Room 09/1
Dining Room Furniture, Light Fixtures & Accessories 09/1
Paint, Awning & New Signage 09/1-09/15

Bill Kruse & CO

Team Spotlight: Bianca Hill

Posted by

Bianca has been with the Rochester Chop House since February 18, 1992.  Going on twenty years this month, Bianca still enjoys walking through its doors each morning, ready to visit with her “extended family.” Bianca says working for and next to Vince Clark, General Manager and Operating Partner, is one of the reasons she enjoys it so much.  “He is a great friend and mentor, he really cares about his employees and guests, and always has a great story to tell,” says Bianca.  She also states that she “has nothing but respect for Bill Kruse,” saying “he has taught her so much through his leadership.”  She is thankful for the many opportunities he has given to her, appreciates that he takes the time to get to know his employees, and is amazed that he can remember everyone’s names! She loves seeing him walk through the door with “his shorts, bowtie and a big smile.”

Bianca has stayed with the company through the years because it’s “a home away from home,” and she enjoys being a part of the success of a great restaurant.  Some of that success comes from a great Event Planner.  Bianca takes extra care to ensure each event she coordinates is an organized, memorable day.  She finds it diverse and challenging, but also extremely rewarding.  She says, “I love meeting with the people, getting to know their story, and making their day special to them.”  Bianca keeps busy planning showers, weddings, outside events at guests’ homes, business dinners, anniversary parties and more!

Bianca says she enjoys making memories through the years, and reliving those exciting experiences.  She’s thrilled by the many friends she has met, watching the Chop House family grow, and elated that she was able to see a movie being filmed at her second home.  She says it makes for an interesting day when you have celebrities stopping by for lunch or dinner (local and otherwise).

Bianca is truly proud to be a part of the Rochester Chop house team.  She says “I have learned so much working here and continue to learn every day.  To be in this business you have to love people and food, and I love both!”

Guest Spotlight: Meet the Holobaughs

Posted by

“When we come here, everyone makes you feel so comfortable, it’s like family.”

Gene and Laura Holobaugh have been regulars at Lake Orion since it opened its doors in 2001. Through the years they have developed close relationships with the team members. Some faces come and go, but they say no matter who greets them when they walk in the door, it always feels like home. Laura smiles broadly when she speaks of General Manager, Adam Quidort, saying “It’s clear Adam knows how to work with a team, he is such a sweet person and carries on the Kruse tradition of making you feel at home.” The Holobaugh’s remember the first manager that welcomed them, Alex Kruse, and say it’s so nice that everyone else has the same ‘get to know you’ attitude.

The Roadhouse is their favorite place to entertain, and anytime out-of-town family comes around, the first question they ask is “Can we go see the renovation?” For those that can’t make it, they take family pictures outside of the building, sending them to relatives with a note that says “Wish you were here”. The Roadhouse salad is a permanent fixture at their family events, Laura says she hasn’t made a salad at home since Kruse and Muer opened its doors (it also gives her a chance to catch up with Kaitlyn in carry out). Family is very important to them, and they love the at home feel of the Roadhouse, a fond memory being when Bill Kruse stopped by to chat, and told their grandson to “call him Uncle Bill”.

They are very pleased with the Roadhouse renovation. Gene says, “The Roadhouse enhanced something that was already great, it is keeping up with the times while keeping the integrity of the building.” They speak of other restaurants, which are closing their doors in these tough times, and how they believe Kruse and Muer is successful because they always keep their doors, and their hearts open. Their favorite new addition is “The Porch,” they love coming for dinner, sitting at a table in the corner, and watching the sun set over the lake.

Laura says “All of our friends say you go to that place a lot, it must be your favorite.” She answers simply with “Yes, it is,” and now you know why.