SLAYTON - Megan and Logan Kruger have never owned a restaurant before, but the couple certainly have plenty of restaurant experience on their side. Some could say it's in their blood.
"I did some bartending, waitressing and managing in the past and just loved it," Megan Kruger said. "I had restaurants on both sides of my family. I grew up with it. It's in our blood."
While one set of her grandparents owned a bowling alley in Wisconsin, Kruger also had a grandmother - Sue Brown - who owned The Royal Loon Supper Club in Slayton. When Brown decided to close the family restaurant, Kruger said she and her husband quickly decided they wanted to purchase it. After spending two months making improvements to the new restaurant - still located at 3124 Juniper Avenue in Slayton - the Krugers were thrilled to open Juniper Grill.
"It's going really well," Megan Kruger said. "We had a packed house on Wednesday and a full house on Thursday. We're excited for our first weekend."
Megan Kruger not only worked at the Royal Loon in the past, Logan Kruger, who is originally from the Lake Wilson area, was also employed there.
"My husband cooked here when he was in high school and during college," Megan Kruger said. "When it came to a point where my grandma wanted to sell, we knew we definitely wanted it. I think she's happy it stayed in the family."
After the restaurant changed hands, the Krugers got to work making it their own. They decided to go with a sports bar theme.
"We made a lot of changes and improvements," Megan Kruger said. "There were lots of things we did to keep the health code up to date. And we changed the whole atmosphere, with new paint and decor so it looked like a sports bar."
In addition to displaying various sports items on the walls, Kruger said the wait staff wears jerseys for uniforms.
"B & K Design, right here in Slayton, did our signage and uniforms," she said. "All the waitresses wear jerseys and the managers have different ones, more like coaches. It sounds like people like them because they're all talking about them on the radio and around town. They've been a big hit with people."
Kruger said that countless people are glad to see the restaurant back open for service.
"They've told us, 'Thank God our home is open again,'" she said. "For us, it's neat to see all the regulars back and in their usual spot. We've made some really fun changes and I think people are excited for it."
The Juniper Grill menu has also been transformed.
"We've expanded the appetizers and we have burgers and steaks," Kruger said. "We're also doing our own wings, both bone-in and boneless. All our burgers are freshly-pattied and our steaks are cut in-house."
The new menu will also include salads, wraps, sandwiches and pizza.
"We have really good pizza," Kruger said. "People say we have an awesome crust. We've sold quite a bit of pizza already, so I think it'll be a hit."
While there is no longer a Mexican section or pasta section, Kruger said other selections have been added.
"With our expanded appetizers, we have a lot of homemade dips, like spinach and artichoke, and nachos now," she said. "And so far, the people have loved the wings."
The Juniper Grill area also offers an outdoor patio and bar, which can accommodate weddings and other get-togethers.
"We have five large weddings booked already," Kruger said. "We have a large area to do a big group, up to 400 outside or 300 inside."
An eight-site campground out back also provides extra places to people to stay if they're out of town guests.
"The campground has full sewer, water, electricity and cable," Megan Kruger said. "It works really well to go along with the weddings."
The new owners also tweaked the hours of operation slightly. Juniper Grill will be open, much like the Royal Loon was, from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Friday, with the kitchen open from 5-10 p.m. But on Saturday and Sunday, patrons are now welcome during lunchtime. Weekend hours are from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., with the kitchen closing down at 11 p.m.
The Krugers, who have two children - Weston, 3, and Payton, almost 1 - will continue working their current jobs in addition to operating their new business. Logan Kruger farms and works construction, while Megan Kruger serves as the director of Wonder World Preschool in Slayton.
"My husband will cook, bartend, mow lawn and be the all-around maintenance guy," Megan Kruger said. "I love bartending and waitressing, so I'll do whatever I need to. We're just really excited."