HUGO — Residents were disappointed this past winter when the proposal for Cozzie’s Tavern & Grill on city-owned property across from City Hall never came to fruition. But now, another plan is in the works.
Hugo residents Tony and Michele Harmening would like to build a 4,500-square-foot steakhouse called Cattle House and a potential event center on the property along Egg Lake. Tony presented his plans to the city’s Economic Development Authority Oct. 15.
“We looked all over for a place to start a restaurant and we think that Hugo is best place to start one,” Tony said. “We really love the area. The area is growing rapidly. I think the community needs another place.”
Michele added, “Tony and I have talked so many times about the lack of restaurants in Hugo, so when this came about it was very exciting to be able to do something like this and have another place to go.”
Even though nothing is finalized yet, Tony said, “it’s going to happen.” City Planner Rachel Juba explained the EDA recommended that city staff negotiate a purchase agreement with the Harmenings, which would then need to be approved by the City Council, likely at its Nov. 4 meeting.
For years, the property along Egg Lake has been marketed by the city for $1 to those who could provide a full-service restaurant or some form of destination use and exceed the requirements of the city’s Downtown Design Guidelines, Juba explained.
The Harmenings have lived in Hugo since 2011 and have three children, ages 4, 5 and 10. Tony, who is originally from Brainerd, said that he has been in the catering business his entire life. Michele, who is originally from Forest Lake, has been a stay-at-home mother. Tony has done catering for TV shows and movies in Los Angeles, Chicago and Louisiana. For the past 10 years, he has run his own catering company called Martini Craft in New York. “I have been commuting back and forth for 10 years, and I am kind of over that,” he explained.
The couple has big plans for the family-friendly steakhouse. The menu will feature appetizers, salads, soups, sandwiches, burgers, steak, cocktails and mock-tails, and affordable kids’ dishes.
The casual atmosphere would feature a dining area, bar and patio seating. There would also be activities all year long, such as ice hockey and skating, snowmobile races, volleyball, paddle boats, cornhole, bocce, live music and more. “We want to make it a destination for families, a place where they can come and hang out,” Tony said.
Eventually, Tony said the couple hopes to add on an event center and separate retail buildings, perhaps an ice cream or coffee shop.
“We are very excited to be bringing this to Hugo,” Michele said.
Editor Shannon Granholm can be reached at 651-407-1227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.