After 19 years of serving up delicious steaks, burgers, chops, ribs, seafood and ice-cold craft beer in Forest Lake, Norman Quack’s has expanded south, opening a Stillwater chophouse last June.
The second Norman Quack’s is located in the Valley Ridge Mall at 1400 Frontage Road W., Stillwater. Owners Gordy and Monique Skamser opened for business there on June 18, 2019, culminating a long and detailed business expansion effort.
“We wanted to build our business,” Gordy said. In the fall of 2018 after giving some consideration to a second Quack’s in Minneapolis, the owners zeroed in on the Valley Ridge Mall space. The new Quack’s is comparable in size to the Forest Lake location at 843 W. Broadway Ave.
With the Forest Lake Quack’s humming along nicely, the move to Stillwater fit the owner’s growth plans, the couple said.
“We feel good about our footprint in Forest Lake,” Gordy said.
Gordy and Monique have been in the food hospitality business for 40 years and are utilizing that experience in building a successful restaurant operation.
When they settled in Marine on St. Croix to raise their family of five children, the dream of starting a business of their own was put in play.
“When we did the Forest Lake Norman Quack’s, we looked at this space,” Gordy said, surveying the 4,700-square-foot Quack’s in Stillwater. It was a bakery in 2000 when the owners looked at the property, he said. “It was way too big for us [at the time].”
Plans shifted to Forest Lake and Norman Quack’s opened on Feb. 15, 2001. Business growth in Forest Lake has been steady and led to the addition of 1,500 square feet of space in 2015. That move expanded the Quack’s seating capacity to 177 guests.
The Forest Lake blueprint was put in play at the Stillwater location after an extensive redesign of the space. A bar was added in the building that has housed two restaurants in the years since the bakery closed. The remodeled space has seating for 150 with another 25 seats available on the dining patio.
“It looks different at first glance, but it’s the same food [that we serve in Forest Lake],” Gordy said. The kitchen of the Stillwater location is set back from the main entrance, but a new beer cooler is an eye catcher. The bar is stocked with 31 taps for the selection of craft beers served at Quack’s.
In the eyes of Monique, the two Norman Quack’s locations are designed to serve multi-generational groups. Like the Forest Lake location, the Stillwater chophouse offers free foosball tables and retro video games. While kids are enjoying time with the games, the adults have time for themselves before having dinner with the family.
Both locations are also designed to accommodate large groups or parties for special occasions.
“We love families,” she said. “A lot of it involves families getting together.”
The Skamsers have also built their business around family involvement. Four of the couple’s five children remain active in the business, three as full-time employees.
Son Gordy, III, is kitchen manager for the two locations. Two daughters are managers: Rita is assigned to the Stillwater location; Jane manages in Forest Lake. A third daughter, Francis, pull shifts for special occasions. The couple’s fourth daughter, Rory, who also worked in the Forest Lake location, is married and living in Florida.
The owners say the roles played by their children are typical of the loyal employee group hired for the two locations. Staff members are able to work shifts while functioning as parents or high school and college students. Between the two locations, 75 employees are counted.
Norman Quack’s has also adopted an environment-friendly philosophy. No glass bottles are carried and recyclable and compostable food containers are the rule. Like many in the food service industry today, plastic straws are not automatic with a beverage, but will be given if customers ask.
While the two owners stay busy hopping between the two locations, Gordy Skamser found the need last year to step down from the Marine Volunteer Fire Department. He retired a year ago February after logging 22 years with the department. He was a deputy fire chief at the time of his retirement.
Editor’s note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Norman Quack’s has temporarily closed both locations.