Family friend restaurant offers craft beer, cocktails, and custom sandwiches for a relaxed dining experience
Ashley and Jon Norine didn’t know what kind of reception to expect when they announced the opening of NorthStar Tavern in Bloomington. But if the reaction to their first Facebook post is any indication, Bloomington residents are more than ready for a new restaurant hot spot. Without any paid promotion of the post, more than 1,500 people have liked, commented, or shared the news that NorthStar Tavern opened in October 2018.
“The response has been overwhelming,” said Ashley. “We just watched as the number kept going up!”That kind of word-of-mouth social media marketing is hard to achieve, but the Norines are confident that the enthusiasm they’re seeing is an indication that they’ve done their research right. The couple has worked hard to find the right combination for success—evaluating multiple locations and conducting demographic analyses—ultimately discovering the perfect spot for NorthStar Tavern in a former Famous Dave’s restaurant space.
“We ended up at many locations in many cities,” Ashley said. “When we walked through this one, we knew right away this was the spot. We could see our vision unfold here.”
Strategic Advice from Open to Business
The Norines came to Open to Business five years ago with the seed of the idea to open their own restaurant. Both had signifi ant experience in the restaurant industry—they met as bar managers in a restaurant chain—but they couldn’t picture themselves as career employees.
Business advisor Laurie Crow gave them the tools to start exploring their options. Two years later, the couple came back with a fleshed-out restaurant concept and enough capital to kick start their dream. As their plans progressed, Crow served as a strategic sounding board, a business analyst, and a connection to funding—including gap financing provided by Open to Business. Over time, Crow saw the Norines blossom in their new role as entrepreneurs.
“They put everything in place. They took the steps, used the tools, and developed the support they needed to open NorthStar Tavern,” she said.
A restaurant vision come to life
It’s been a big year for the Norines. They are finally seeing their hard work come to life at the intersection of 98th Street and Normandale Boulevard. The owners worked with a professional chef to develop a menu specializing in customizable handheld sandwiches and an expansive drink menu that includes craft beers and cocktails. They intentionally included lighter fare and heartier meals to accommodate families like their own, who want a range of options that will appeal to everyone.
Adding to all the excitement, the Norines’ family recently grew a little bigger. The couple welcomed healthy baby Emma, who was born prematurely in the midst of the restaurant buildout. Despite her early arrival, Emma is thriving and the Norines expect she will be a familiar face at the tavern.
In the meantime, the Norines are excited to finally see all their hard work pay off.
“We’re really excited about our concept and our menu,” Jon said. “This has been our dream for a long time. We came together as a couple with the idea and the dream. It’s really nice to see it come to fruition.”
Visit NorthStar Tavern at 5101 W 98th St, Bloomington, MN 55437, or find it online at www.facebook.com/northstartavernmn.