Gary Desrosiers, owner of the Brunkild Bar & Grill, is on his third bus.
He has a 24-passenger bus to carry people to and from his bar, located next to Highway 3 in Brunkild. Groups include university students, wedding stags and shower celebrants, and others wanting a safe way to get home after a party.
Business has apparently been pretty good — he’s burned through two buses transporting customers around.
"We want to provide a safe, fun environment for people to come out and enjoy themselves," said Desrosiers. "My intention always was to make this a destination."
He and wife Carrie bought the hotel building 13 years ago. The original section was built in 1922, with an addition constructed in the 1960s. Desrosiers has copies of old photos of the building up on display in the small café and in the bar.
The hotel’s five rooms are rarely used, but have come in handy during a few blizzards when patrons were unable to drive home safely.
"The atmosphere here is a lot different than a city bar," Desrosiers said, and this difference is something he cultivates.
For example, the bar’s walls are covered with his collection of over 50 neon and tin signs advertising liquor, beer and tobacco products.
He also arranges for a wide variety of entertainment. He has hired musicians and comedians, offered karaoke, and once hosted a drag show.
Open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday to Saturday, the bar and grill offers what Desrosiers calls a simple menu, with most food served to bar patrons. He does offer take-out service and regularly supplies local businesses with pizzas.
"Food’s been a big part of our success," he said.
He estimates that over 20,000 dozen bottles of beer are sold annually through the bar and vendor.
"We carry a lot of premium and specialty beers," he said.
The vendor section nearly suffered serious damage just over a year ago, when a young driver ran off the adjacent highway and crashed into two trucks in the establishment’s parking lot.
One of the trucks was pushed through the wall of the hallway leading to the vendor. Luckily, no one was injured.
His staff numbers increase to about five in the summer, and he attributes part of his business success to his employees’ friendliness. His son Blair works when he’s available, but Carrie now owns and runs Brunkild Beverage & Groceries — just across the side street.
Desrosiers plans to keep adapting his business in hopes of attracting new customers. Next summer he hopes to open a patio area.