As if having the last name Grilz wasn't a good enough reason to open a butcher shop and market, the Centerville resident and longtime chef has always wanted to own his own business.

Dan Grilz, a resident of Centerville, opened J. Morten's in May. The business is located at 14643 Mercantile Drive (Suite 104), next to Anytime Fitness in Hugo.

“I've always had it in the back of my head that I was going to be a business owner someday and that I would regret it if I didn't try it,” Grilz explained. “I always thought it was going to be a restaurant.”

Grilz, who has 15 years of experience as a chef, attended culinary school at La Cordon Bleu in Mendota Heights. He got his start at Bayport Cookery. “That's where I got hooked,” he said.

After graduating from culinary school, he headed to Chicago for an internship at Trio under chef Grant Achatz, a well-known American chef and restaurateur known for his progressive cuisine. After finishing his internship, Grilz returned to Bayport Cookery before moving on to other restaurants. Most recently, he worked at Stella's on 97 in Forest Lake before a quick stint in the corporate world.

“I tried the corporate route and hated it. I made it six weeks and then I quit,” Grilz recalled. His girlfriend, Kandi Renelt, suggested he get a job cutting meat somewhere like Kowalski's or Von Hanson's since he liked butchering.

“I turned to her and said, 'Why don't I just open up a butcher shop?’ And 15 months later, here we are,” he said.

J. Morten's is named after Grilz's grandmother, Juanita Morten, who was born in 1926 — the date in the business’s logo. The company features well-marbled beef and pork from USDA Prime boneless steaks like filet, New York strip and ribeye, to USDA Prime dry-aged bone-in ribeye, porterhouse and KC strip steaks. The local Minnesota pork comes from Compart Family Farms in Nicollet and Fischer Family Farms in Waseca. The business also dry-ages its steaks in-house.

Other items that can be found in the store include kabobs, burgers, bratwurst, hot dogs, jerky and more.  The business does not process meat or smoke meats on site. J. Morten's does, however, carry whole brisket, tri-tip, baby back ribs, pork shoulders and butts for customers to smoke themselves.

During the summer, the business is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit J. Morten's website at or find the business on Facebook at


Editor Shannon Granholm can be reached at 651-407-1227 or

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