When carpenter Ernie Ritari and his family moved to Squaw Point from Brainerd in 1917, they made their way through jack pine and hazel bush to get here. Back then the East side of Gull Lake was just a gravel road — a half day's ride by horseback from Brainerd. Ernie, an immigrant from Finland in the 1800s, started a camping and fishing resort where his wife Edna tended bar and cleaned cabins while their dog Toby enjoyed ice cream before every guests drink.
Ernie rented 10 boats and usually had five families, mainly from Minneapolis and Iowa, join him during the summer months. Ernie, Edna and Toby were among the few who stayed year round in East Gull Lake. The Ritari's were famous for their community pig roasts and later built two guest cabins, but did not allow Vodka on the resort due to Ernie's bitterness against the Russians — kind of ironic considering our signature drink today, the Greenie!
Ernie's on Gull Lake is owned and operated by CMZ Hospitality. Chris Foy, Mike Foy and Zac Swarthout purchased the restaurant from Craig and Desi Dunmire in August of 2011. Chris, Mike and Zac all graduated from Brainerd High School and spent their childhoods around East Gull Lake, frequently visiting Ernie's back when it was known as Ron's Steak House, Ron's on Squaw Point and the Butcher Block.
Today, Ernie's is a family-friendly establishment that strives to provide a fun, personalized dining experience. We differentiate ourselves by getting to know our customers, and always extending a friendly hello and a sincere thank you. From all of us at Ernie's we hope you enjoy your experience with us!
| Zac, Mike, Chris and our amazing staff |