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Introducing Kruse and Muer: Roadhouse



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Executive Chef Chris Hessler, Owner Bill Kruse and his son, Director of Operations Casey Kruse, sit in one of the spacious private rooms. Photo by G. Ouzounian (click for larger version)
November 09, 2011 - Motorists traveling on M-24 near Clarkston road may notice the seemingly new building where Kruse and Muer: On the Lake used to stand.

The business remains the same, but introduces the reenvisioned Kruse and Muer: Roadhouse. It is far more than just a physical remodeling.

"Just about everything changed," said Owner Bill Kruse, who opened the location in 2002. "The renovations, worth about $400,000, include decor changes, new menus, new china, new glass silverware, a redone front room and a new feel to the restaurant."

Kruse said the renovations were planned due to the changes in the economy and different outlook on spending that accompanied it. Comparing the Lake Orion location to the Troy branch and the Rochester Chop House, Kruse said between 2010-11 the Lake Orion location did not bounce back in quite the same way.

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"We opened in 2003 and enjoyed a very brisk and successful business, but in 2011 our other locations have come back booming, leaving Lake Orion to come back a little slower," said Kruse. "We thought it was less about the economy and more about having 15 other restaurants, all with varying price points, that were making things difficult up here. We're convinced that no matter what happens in 2012, people will never go back to spending the way they did, which is supported by the fact that restaurants with the lowest overall check average have been doing the best. When the economy goes down, people do not stop going out - they just modify their choices."

So the Roadhouse was born. Kruse said the new outlook for the branch is to offer a more casual dining experience but still provide the high-end cuisine known at the location. The redesign began with plans for a deck to overlook the nearby lake, but after resistance from the zoning board, plans were changed to build a patio into the existing building. Kruse added, the changes were even run by the existing staff for opinions, which were overall positive, albeit not without concern.

"The biggest thing our staff was worried about was the existing guest base - we didn't want to alienate these people," he said. "So we turned to our dining rooms, which instead of making them more casual, simply improved upon the existing design. We now have closed off sections for people that want private parties and a newly remodeled upstairs that will accommodate 10 to 16 people in an elegant private location."

Though new items have joined the menu, old favorites like the Lake-fish Primavera remain. Roughly one third of the menu has changed for items sitting below the $12 mark, and new appetizers, sandwiches and casual dishes have been added.

Kruse called the early response exactly what they had hoped for.

"It always takes a little bit to get an accurate reading on how changes have affected business, but so far the response has been great," he said. "We wanted a place where you could come sit on the patio, have a nice meal, drink a beer, relax and I think we got just that.

The Roadhouses hours are 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Mon-Thurs, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday, and noon to 10:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Lunch ranges from $5.95 to $18.95, while dinner goes from $5.95 to $27.95.

The Lake Orion location can be contacted at 248- 814-9500 or online, where menus are also available, at kruseandmuerrestaurants.com

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