Berglands keep cooking at Adrian eateryADRIAN — Putting out a good product is something that is important to Tim Bergland, who co-owns the Countryside Inn with his wife, Cindy.
By: Joe Froemming, Worthington Daily Globe
ADRIAN — Putting out a good product is something that is important to Tim Bergland, who co-owns the Countryside Inn with his wife, Cindy.
The business has been around for about 40 years, and the Berglands have owned it about 12 years.
“Cindy started here when she was 15 as a busgirl,” said Bergland, who is originally from the Iona/Wilmont area. Cindy grew up a mile out from Adrian.
Bergland works in the kitchen, while Cindy works in the restaurant/bar area.
“It’s always fun to meet people,” Bergland said. “I don’t get to do it a lot, but I can probably sit with someone all afternoon and just talk if I had the time and they had the time. That’s the fun part.”
Bergland takes pride in the restaurant’s portion sizes and the quality of the food it serves.
“It makes you really proud to put out something really good that you believe in,” he said. “When you make a customer happy, it makes you feel good.”
The Countryside Inn still cuts its own steaks with a saw kept in the kitchen. Bergland has personally cut the steaks for the past 19 years.
“It’s pretty common for most places to bring it in frozen, pre-cut, (then) thaw it out and serve it. I’m a firm believer that fresh-cut is the way to go,” Bergland said.
Bergland noted that the Countryside Inn gets diverse groups of customers.
“We get people with suits and ties and we get people in their work clothes,” he said. “And we are fine with that — that’s what we are. We are just a hometown, every-level-of-people-out- there place.”
People within a radius of approximately 75 miles support the Countryside Inn.
“Little Rock, George, Luverne, Worthington … you just go 75 miles each way and it’s awesome to sit down at night and look at the checks and see where all the people came from to come and eat,” Bergland said. “It makes you feel good when you see that. And then to turn around six months later and see it again — they come back. It keeps you going.”
While Bergland takes pride in his steaks, the Countryside Inn also offers burgers, chicken and other items.
“We don’t get into Mexican food or anything like that,” Bergland said. “You could say I’m a meat and potatoes kind of guy. That’s the way I was raised, and that’s what I believe in.”
During Lent, Bergland said the restaurant is doing its annual fish buffet and three specials at night.
“Soon we will change it up. We have our Easter buffet and Mother’s Day buffet are coming up.” Bergland said. “Holidays are big days for us.”
Bergland said the business is very family oriented.
“Son works down here, daughter works here a lot — second son works, “Bergland said. “Got a step-daughter, she’s only 3, so she doesn’t do much. But we’re all here all the time. But, of course, if you don’t have really good help, you couldn’t do it.”
Bergland said the employees are great.
“They fill in when we need it,” he stated. “We’ve had three funerals in the last 10 months, and it’s amazing to have people pitch in so we can actually have a day off to actually do that.”
Bergland said some of the employees go back about 20 years.
“A lot of their kids work with them,” Bergland said. “Then, of course, they move on — go to college, you know.”
Bergland said the restaurant has had employees start when they are eligible and continue until they graduate.
“When Spring Break comes, then they’re back, summertime they’re back and then pretty soon you’re doing a wedding for them,” Bergland said with a laugh.
The Countryside Inn also does catering.
“It’s always nice when you get to cater to one of them when they have worked for you,” Bergland said.
The Berglands do appreciation days around their anniversary as well.
“When we did our 10th year, we ran 10-ounce rib eye dinner for $10,” Bergland said. “And we ran it for 10 days. We did 2,700 people in those 10 days.
“It was crazy. It was so much fun but when that 10th day came, I was glad it was over,” Bergland added with a laugh. “That was a blast. That was two years ago, and it was really something.”
Three or fours years ago, a bar was added.
“It’s a nice addition,” Bergland said. “A couple of cocktails with the meal … we’re not a bar. I don’t want to be a bar.”
Bergland said the bar complements the restaurant. He said they go well together.
“The bar end is Cindy’s deal. I’m too busy in the kitchen. Most nights I’m too tired to come out and have one,” Bergland said with a laugh.
Bergland said he and Cindy put in a lot of hours as well.
“I average 80 to 83 hours a week,” Bergland said. “You come in the morning and you do dinner. A lot of days you stay straight through; some days you can sneak out for an hour if you have an errand to run or run to the bank. It’s time-consuming.”
Bergland said when it’s not fun anymore, it will be time to step away.
“And I’m not there yet,” Bergland said. “It’s still fun.”
Bergland enjoys meeting people, but admitted he has a problem remembering names.
“I could go up to them and talk ... and tell them what we talked about the whole (previous) conversation. But I can’t tell their name — I’m lousy at it,” Bergland said with a laugh. “But it’s fun to meet people and hear where they’re from.”
Bergland said there is a lot of history with the building, and customers often remember going there when others owned it.
“It’s always interesting to talk to those people,” Bergland said.
Bergland said his biggest theory is that a customer has to want to come through the door.
“You can’t make them,” Bergland said. “Hopefully we provide a good enough meal that they will want to come back.”
Bergland said it is important to have the fresh-cut meat, a nice atmosphere and good conversation to have customers come back.
“They’re all fresh-cut steaks and that’s the best,” Bergland said. “Nineteen years and no one else has cut a steak on that saw. And I still got 10 fingers.”
Bergland said it’s amazing how fast the time goes. He said it doesn’t feel like it’s been 12 years since he and Cindy bought the place.
“The older you get, the faster it goes,” Bergland said with a laugh. “There are days that are 12-to-14 hour days and you get toward the end of the night and realize you haven’t sat down yet today.
“Cindy puts in a ton of hours, too.” Bergland added.
Tim and Cindy also own an acreage and raise some cattle.
“I don’t know which one’s therapy, coming here or doing that,” Bergland said with a laugh.