By Jason DeRusha

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Surrounded by a river of McDonalds, Applebee’s and Chipotles, north suburban restauranteur Corey Burstad is swimming upstream.

“We’re trying to be a little different that’s for sure,” said Burstad.

Corey Burstad owns two restaurants in Blaine. Bricks is a full-service, busy, full-service restaurant and bar right across the street from the soccer fields of the National Sports Center. The Roadside is a fast-casual restaurant up the street, serving burgers, fries, and cheese curds all a la carte.

He also owns T-Box in Ham Lake, which is a more chef-driven adventurous restaurant where bison tartare is the star of the show.

“We’re able to deliver a downtown-type product out here in the suburbs, but also keep in mind we have families who come here daily. We have to wear two hats,” said Burstad.

His spots all do that dance: a balance of approachable, quick meals for families on the go, as well as higher-end choices for people looking to have a special occasion. Each restaurant has a focus on great beers and incredible wine. No mistake, considering Burstad also owns Traditions Liquor, in Blaine.

“I think our customers trust us, knowing we have a local wine shop. They come to us knowing we should have a good wine list,” he said.

Burstad got his start with Village Pub in the village of St. Anthony, but he also owns a company that does metalwork in some of the best high-end restaurants in the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. He said suburban dining is different: kids go to bed, so the restaurants don’t do much late night business. You have to be prepared to do quick volume when it’s go time.

But he owns all of his real estate. Business is easier, he said, since he’s his own landlord.

“For us it’s a long-term investment. It’s not a five-year lease where you’re under market pressure and have to adapt,” he said.

Both Burstad and his management team live in the north suburbs, so they say they’ve adapted their menus and vibe to the feedback they get from their friends and neighbors. But they also have tried to nudge those diners forward.

“People come to expect it. We can push the envelope,” said Darren Pender, operations director for Elevage group, the parent company of the restaurants.

Local people making the food scene in the northern suburbs way more delicious than you’d expect.

“I grew up in Ham Lake, I went to Blaine (High School). To put a restaurant and store in Ham Lake was a little goal,” said Burstad.

Bricks Kitchen & Pub
10673 Baltimore St NE, Blaine

The Roadside
12530 Ulysses St NE, Blaine

T-Box
1431 147th Ave NE, Ham Lake

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