Wayne Bratvold of Murray’s in Minneapolis, MN, on Loyal Customers and Napa Valley Reds - Wine & Spirits Magazine

Wayne Bratvold of Murray’s in Minneapolis, MN, on Loyal Customers and Napa Valley Reds

Murray’s, a classic upscale steakhouse, has been serving guests in Minneapolis since 1946. Wayne Bratvold, manager of Murray’s, cites a loyal customer base and staff retention in aiding business this year. 

What would you say has been the most challenging aspect of your job in the past year, and what has been the most rewarding?    

We’ve certainly had easier years! I think generally the challenge has been navigating COVID restrictions, whether that’s closure or having to reduce hours, having to enforce things like mask mandates and now vaccine mandates. It’s not something that feels very hospitable, to ask somebody to present proof of vaccination when they’re entering the building, or to ask them to put a mask on. I think those things are probably the greatest challenge. 

I guess rewarding has been that for the most part, we’ve retained the bulk of our staff. I haven’t had very much attrition, a little bit in the kitchen, and very minimal in the front of the house. The management team has been pretty steady the whole time, so that helps a lot.  

How have the customers been responding to the dining experience this past year?

Well, I think overall, people have responded very, very well. I think that occasionally there will be a little friction about people trying to engage you in political discourse, because they feel strongly one way or another about some of the mandates and things in effect. We certainly try to avoid that. That’s not what we’re in the business to do. 

On Customer Support

Certainly, we’ve had very, very good support from a number of our long-term customers. Whether that involved using us for orders to-go while we were shut down or just limited in what we could do, that’s been very, very encouraging. It’s a restaurant that’s been here 76 years, and it’s family-owned, so I think there’s a lot of very close attachment to the community and our clientele. As they’ve come back, people have frequently thanked us for sticking with it and not closing; that’s probably the most rewarding part of it.  

Have you noticed any trends in what customers have been ordering in the past year?

You know, I think it’s been pretty consistent. We have always traditionally sold a lot of cabernet, a lot of Napa cabernet, and that continues to lead the way, but I think that people continue to become a little more adventurous as time goes by. I see greater activity perhaps in Italian wine, or even things like Spanish, Portuguese, South African wine, some things that are a little less common.

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