MEET THE LOCALS – RAINY LAKE GRILL
In July 2016, Karina Joyce-Ham (LFHS 1998) and her husband Robert Ham (FHS 1990) were visiting from Minneapolis. While in town, Karina spent time with Wayne and Mary Ann Kasich. Mary Ann told Karina that Grandmas Pantry was for sale and thought Karina would be the perfect person for running a restaurant in this unique location. Karina brought the idea up to her husband Robert and he agreed it would be a great opportunity to move back home. Two months later, the restaurant was theirs.
Karina grew up in the restaurant business. Her parents owned and operated DJ’s Big Spoon in Littlefork, MN for thirty-four years. Karina spent her teen years helping wait tables, cook pizzas, as well as anything else her dad asked of her. After graduating high-school, Karina moved to Key West, FL and continued working in the service industry with jobs waiting tables, bartending and leading ghost tours through the area of Old Town in Key West. During this time, Karina enjoyed a life of adventure and traveled to places ranging from Maine to Fiji. While on these journeys, she embraced the local culture and cuisine. This helped expand her pallet and her appreciation for fresh food made using local ingredients. In 2007 Karina moved back to Minnesota. She soon found herself working at the Minneapolis airport at a variety of restaurants for HMS hosts. Her primary responsibilities included waiting tables and bartending. It was during this time that Karina found herself training many of her new teammates. This developed her leadership skills and gave her the confidence needed to build a business while working to exceed customers’ expectations.
Karina and Robert are excited to be back in northern Minnesota. They enjoy getting to know their customers personally and reconnecting with the people they grew up with.
They have found there to be numerous challenges to starting a business. The challenges range from finding the right teammates, to learning Quickbooks, to dealing with the IRS, to replacing old equipment, to managing customers’ expectations. Karina and Robert feel each of the opportunities has made them stronger and better prepared them for the future, whatever that may bring.
Their plan is to continue to provide fresh, home-style food for a reasonable price. They continue to modify their menu to respond to the various seasons, providing food that is appropriate for the time of year. They continue to innovate and learn as they challenge their guests to “eat outside the box” and try something new. Karina and Robert also plan to continue to use herbs and vegetables from their garden to ensure featured specials are made using the freshest ingredients.