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Local couple opens new restaurant with a 'community feel'

Woodbury residents Mike and Susan Miller recently opened Lakes Tavern and Grill. The soon-to-be empty nesters say they're excited to stay connected to the community they've been a part of for 13-plus years. Staff photo by Hank Long.

Mike Miller knows the restaurant business. He's spent much of his career owning and operating restaurants across the Twin Cities. The Woodbury resident recently put his successes back into his community with the opening of Lakes Tavern and Grill.

The goal is an Americana-style cuisine, with an independent twist and friendly atmosphere. It's the product of a vision Miller and his wife Susan have been working on for the last several months.

In October they brought that vision to reality.

The goal is simple, said Miller, who owns Green Mill franchises across the Twin Cities - to bring something new, and independent to the community he loves. The restaurant has been running at full speed for the last month at its location along Hudson Road near the Woodbury Lakes Shopping Center.

"We're going have great food," Miller said in an interview last month. "But we're also going to have a community feel that will make you want to come back again and again."

'Not a chain' feel

The spacious restaurant, located in the free-standing building formerly occupied by a Boston's Pizza, has a stylish, minimalistic feel to it. There's no flare on the walls or ceiling. A main dining room and bar with intimate booths and granite bar tops are separated by a partial wall that allows for the happy hour crowd and the supper crowd to enjoy their experiences, Susan said.

The Millers moved to Woodbury from Florida in 1997. The family has children that have played soccer for the local clubs, some of which will be working part-time at the restaurant during breaks from school, Susan said.

Miller has been in the restaurant business for more than 25 years. He said he first hatched the idea for Lakes Tavern and Grill in May. He located the former Boston's Pizza pad and saw that it had the features he was looking for, a restaurant with freshly-prepared food that offers quality suds as well. Lakes Tavern and Grill carries domestic and some craft beers, including well-known Bell's out of Kalamozoo, Mich.

"We visualized a concept of well-done food, moderately priced, and with a community-centered feel," Miller said. "We didn't want a chain feel. We just thought that was a market that is not served right now in Woodbury. So that's what has us excited about Lakes Tavern and Grill."

New spin on old favorites

That's why Miller said he brought in Christophe Ticarro as his executive chef. Ticarro has spent a career working with master chefs in the Twin Cities, California, New York City and even Alaska. He recently relocated with his family to the Twin Cities and said he is excited to lend his talents to a new venture.

"My goal is to get you to try something on the menu and think it's your favorite, and then to try something else and think that one is your favorite and keep you coming back because you want to try the whole menu," Ticarro said.

Some of the items on the appetizer menu include flatbread pizzas, pork egg rolls, meatloaf sliders and sweet potato fries. The lunch and dinner menu include several specialty sandwiches, pastas, burgers and entrees such a mushroom gorgonzola ribeye steak and blackened grouper.

Miller said he has confidence in his culinary team's ability to keep a menu that satisfies all tastes for an affordable price.

He also said he's excited to generate a new buzz in the community his family has enjoyed for years.

"We've loved Woodbury and have been pretty involved with our kids' lives and their sports teams," Miller said. "They're all growing up, so Susan and I wanted to find a new way we can stay connected with our community.

"In Lakes Tavern and Grill, we are trying to create a place where everyone can relax, have fun and enjoy their meal."

Lakes Tavern and Grill is located at 9240 Hudson Road. For more information go to