As summer gets into full swing, there is no better time to “unwined” when in Lanesboro, Minn., than a visit to Root River Unwined Wine Bar. The new and exciting business is just what people need to get out and explore something fun and relaxing.
Owners Lori and Randy Rakosnik knew they wanted to purchase a building for their business somewhere in Minnesota, and after spending two years searching in several towns in the state, and looking at many buildings, they had their heart set on a building in Lanesboro.
“We were just looking for businesses for sale in all of Minnesota — we had never been to Lanesboro — and the buildings we liked were in this area,” states Lori.
“We just kept coming back here,” comments Randy, explaining that they looked at several buildings in the area that were for sale, but the couple felt that the old Scenic Valley Winery building fit their vision for their business.
The building was originally for lease, but the Rakosniks had their heart set on purchasing. They sat down with then owners Scott and Karla Strom, and explained their plans for the building and future business, giving the Stroms the incentive to sell the building.
Lori grew up in New Prague, Minn., and graduated from Mankato State University, and Randy grew up in Burr Ridge, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, and graduated from Drake University. The couple moved to Lanesboro from Thief River Falls, Minn.
When asked why they chose to relocate in Lanesboro and invest in a business, Lori responded that they “loved the location, buildings and feel of the community” and the reason they love the building is because “it was a winery, it is beautiful, has great bones and a perfect layout for our vision,” explains Lori.
The building was purchased in March 2019, which is when a tremendous amount of work began, although much of the work that needed to be done was to bring the building up to code in order to open the business.
“We didn’t try to change anything other than what we had to — there were no bathrooms and there was no kitchen,” notes Lori. “We tried to keep what we could that was original,” she says.
“These are the original cement floors, and they had drop ceilings both on the first floor and the second floor and we took those down and found the Sheffield tile up there — we had that sandblasted to clean it up,” states Randy.
“Upstairs is the original wood beam that they poured the tar on for the original flat roof — they have since re-pitched a new roof over it — but we wanted that kind of industrial look with exposed piping and exposed duct work but with some upscale features like the chandeliers,” Randy adds.
“We spent one year remodeling this building, keeping as much of the original structure as possible,” explains Lori. “We tried to create something that nobody in Lanesboro had and make it super-relaxing,” she states. “And make it fun,” adds Randy.
Local businesses Augedahl Construction, Huntington Electric and Canton Heating and Cooling did a fantastic job transforming the interior of the building into a very special space. Randy gives Lori all the credit for the interior design.
As their vision has come to fruition, it is everything they had hoped it would be — a very relaxed atmosphere with water features, plants and trees out on the patio along with various seating options.
One of many great features of Root River Unwined Wine Bar are the individual fireplaces on the wall at intimate tables located inside. The Rakosniks want to give customers that relaxed vacation feel and also to enjoy being pampered by the staff.
As the name implies, Root River Unwined Wine Bar’s focus is on wine, but they also have a bourbon, scotch and whiskey niche. “Our list is probably comparable to the top 20% in Minneapolis,” states Randy, explaining that with 60 different wines by the bottle (including about 30 Minnesota wines), they have wines available that you won’t find anywhere else in the area.
Root River Unwined Wine Bar also has 12 craft beer taps and signature bourbon cocktails available including the Driftless Blood and Sand, the Bourbon Sour and the Unwined Manhattan. “We have done several wine trainings with all of our staff,” notes Lori, so they have some knowledge and will feel more comfortable answering questions from customers about wine and pairing wine with food.
With over 30 years of experience, Chef Bruce Born has already made quite an impression on the local residents and tourists in southeast Minnesota with his amazingly creative and fresh dishes.
The Rakosniks describe their menu as “small plates/shareables, charcuterie boards and local entrees, farm to table and fresh and healthy,” acquiring as many ingredients as they can locally.
A few examples of menu items include smoked trout dip, mussels, grilled trout, brisket burger and bread pudding. Much of the food is “Lanesboro focused,” such as rhubarb and trout. The food has been getting great reviews according to Randy, and Lori says that the menu will change quarterly.
Since Root River Unwined Wine Bar opened its doors on June 1, 2020, it has been a flurry of activity with those excited to see the changes to the building and to sample the wines and food.
The Rakosniks are grateful for all of the support shown by local residents and business owners, are so happy to be part of the Lanesboro family and are very much looking forward to pampering their customers for years to come.
Root River Unwined Wine Bar is located at 102 Coffee St. W. in Lanesboro. For more information call (507) 225-2392, or visit facebook.com/UnwinedLanesboro or unwinedlanesboro.com.
Business hours are Tuesday/Wednesday – 4-8 p.m., Thursday through Sunday – 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. and closed Mondays. Business hours may be adjusted during the winter but the business will be open year-round.