Major renovations, expansion at former inn include ‘lake-vibe’ dining, future retail meat store
“Lake-vibe” fine dining is just one of the changes that will transform the Cormorant Inn, under new owner and executive chef, Sam Stockstad.
Planned changes include expanding the existing bar and outdoor patio area; renovating the neighboring indoor and outdoor event venue; adding a relaxed fine dining room and cocktail lounge; and creating a retail specialty meat and butcher shop.
These changes will be rolled out in phases in order to allow the establishment to remain open throughout.
Another change: The name.
“Parallel Forty-Six” is the new moniker for the overall establishment, which is located on the 46th lateral line, or parallel—globally speaking. Locally, for lakes area residents and visitors, that’s almost precisely the midway between Pelican Lake and Cormorant Village. Stockstad also envisions “parallels” in adding “modern twists” to traditional dining fare. The name change is not yet in place but an official launch event is planned for later this year.
“Prime” dining is how Stockstad prefers to describe his more sophisticated dining menu, which will feature a wide inventory of wine, steaks and freshly sourced seafood.
The Tavern, which is the expanded bar and patio area, will feature more casual dinner fare including breakfast and lunch on weekends.
A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in the Twin Cities, who gained five years of invaluable experience at Spanky’s Stone Hearth, Stockstad knows food. Patrons have the opportunity for “sneak peaks” of the new Prime and Tavern menus, noted Stockstad. Every Friday and Saturday, he is offering select items that will appear on the final menus.
State-of-art kitchen will be created
An entirely new kitchen, 1,200 square feet in size, will be carved from the existing space. The upgraded kitchen will serve both sides, the new Prime dining area and the expanded Tavern. The kitchen will also offer catering for the enhanced event center.
A second building entrance will also be added—with the new entrance leading to the expanded Tavern along with an outdoor patio, on the south side of the complex. Two separate bars will serve each side.
“We’re receiving a lot of positive comments. People are excited about fine dining and increased menu variety overall in the area,” said Stockstad, who grew up mostly in Fargo, and later in the Seattle area.
Fortunately for Stockstad, the encouraging words are also helping attract staff—which can be difficult in the lakes area. “There’s a lot of interest and buzz with what’s happening here, and people want to be part of it…They’re willing to jump in with me,” said Stockstad.
Summer employment could be at 40 to 50—including event center staff.
He’s anticipating about 30 employees through the off-season.
Motel lodging will be phased down; retail meat market planned
The extensive remodeling, plus his planned retail butcher shop, means motel lodging operation will eventually be phased down.
“We’re honoring all existing lodging bookings and accepting new reservations through September,” said Stockstad. “After September 2021, our hotel capacity will be more limited going forward.”
Special recipe pastrami, salami and deli meats will be among the features at the meat market. Stockstad’s background with meatcutting comes from his culinary school training, and also some butchering for Spanky’s.
The retail store is currently being planned for a stand-alone Foltz building, which has been positioned on the south side of the site.
The enhanced events center will open in mid-May; the expanded Tavern sports bar is expected to open next followed by the Prime dining establishment later in the summer. Completion of the state-of-the-art kitchen is of the highest priority, to expand culinary capabilities and capacity before the July 4th holiday, said Stockstad.
Lifelong connections to Lida, Pelican lakes area
The lakes area is comfortable territory for Stockstad, with longstanding connections to Little Pelican and Lake Lida.
Grandparents Gerry and Les Langseth, well known in the Pelican Rapids community, entertained young Sam Stockstad on Lida since his youth.
Meanwhile, the Stockstad side of the family were longtime Little Pelican seasonals, and Sam is living at the lake place—a short commute to the Cormorant area.
“I grew up in the summers out here,” said Stockstad, noting that he also worked with the “dock crew” for Robin Johnson, former Lakeland General Store owner.
Spanky’s Josh Hanson a mentor and friend
Meanwhile, restauranteur Josh Hanson lost a key figure at Spanky’s, with Stockstad departure. But there are no hard feelings.
“Josh has been a great mentor for me. He’s happy for me, and proud,” said Stockstad, of his former boss at Spanky’s, the widely-known restaurant overlooking Rose Lake north of Vergas. “Josh and I will continue to go on hunting trips together. We have a great relationship.”
The two don’t view each other as direct competitors, even though both Spanky’s and Parallel Forty-Six will both cater to fine dining patrons. Geographically distanced, the establishments will continue to retain and develop new audiences, noted Stockstad.
Event center to continue; and aim more at hosting private events
The event center is a continuation and upgrade to the outdoor stage area and indoor venue created by previous Cormorant Inn owners.
P46 Events, the new name, will be booking concert-dance events, similar to the past—including the popular “Front Fenders” on Memorial weekend.
But Stockstad will also be focusing more on special engagements such as birthdays, reunions, and retirement parties.
Renovations at the contemporary event venue include glass garage doors, re-polished cement floor and completely refreshed interior.
The investment is substantial. His parents are investors in the project, Lynne and Corey Stockstad, along with longtime friend and local lakes area custom builder, Randy Iwerks.