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McPete’s honored as Big Lake Chamber’s business of the year

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McPete’s Sports Bar & Lanes was honored Thursday, March 18 as the Big Lake Chamber’s business of the year. Owner Eric Petersen, right, is congratulated by Paul Knier, the Big Lake mayor, immediate past Chamber president, and sponsor of the business of the year award.


In 1998 Eric Petersen and his partners opened McPete’s Sports Bar & Lanes.

Now, nearly 25 years later, McPete’s has been honored as Big Lake’s business of the year by the Big Lake Chamber of Commerce.

Peterson and his wife Stephanie, co-owners of McPete’s, were honored Thursday, March 18 at the Chamber’s Member of the Year Celebration at Style Catering in Big Lake. Lupulin Brewing Company and Old National Bank were the other candidates for the Chamber’s business of the year. The winner was decided by a vote of current Chamber members.

“It was an honor,” Eric Petersen said of the honor. “Especially because it was voted on by all the business owners.”

While Peterson said he was surprised to get the honor as business of the year because the bank and brewery would have been very worthy recipients, he was nothing short of excited.

He received “a very nice” plaque which is already on display at McPete’s where his staff can see and enjoy the award.

“I want our employees to be able to see it because, of course, they are a big part of this. If not for them, this wouldn’t have happened,” Petersen said of receiving the business of the year honor.

Gloria Vande Brake, executive director of the Big Lake Chamber of Commerce, said she is excited that McPete’s received the honor.

Petersen and McPete’s have been great supporters of the Chamber’s annual block party for the past 11 years and has always been a great member of the Big Lake community, she said.

Big Lake Mayor and 2020 Chamber president Paul Knier sponsored the Business of the Year Award through his business, Cabot Lodge Securities. Knier noted that McPete’s has been generous and dedicated to the community over the years. McPete’s has donated and supported so many different non-profit organizations and youth groups in the Big Lake area, according to Knier. 

In addition to offering their bowling alley and mini-golf to thousands of kids and families at our Block Party for the past 11 years, Petersen has been a long-time member of the Big Lake Lions and Knights of Columbus, Knier said.

An interesting note shared by Knier: Petersen, a Big Lake native, worked at the bowling alley that is now McPete’s for four years while attending college. He left for eight years and returned to Big Lake to become a partner in the business with Bob and Pat McDowell. 

The McDowell’s remain Petersen’s business partner, Eric Petersen said.

Since purchasing the bowling alley 23 years, Petersen has nearly doubled the footprint of McPete’s original operation.

“We added volleyball courts, mini golf, and horseshoes,” Petersen said.

The horseshoe pits have since been replaced by beanbags.

“We also opened up the bar and added an area for darts and pool,” he said.

Part of being the 2020 business of the year was actually being in business during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It wasn’t easy,” Petersen confessed.

During times of in-person closures, McPete’s and its staff worked hard providing takeout meals to its customers.

“We pushed on as much as we could,” Petersen said.

Petersen notes that McPete’s might not be here today if it wasn’t for the people of Big Lake.

“It’s community support that kept us going,” Petersen said.

Reach Jeff Hage at


Jeff Hage is the managing editor of the Monticello Times. He majored in journalism at the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire.

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