New business hopes to make Jenkins shine

081920.PEJ.shiners (1).JPG
Sean and Rae Smuda opened Shiners in Jenkins with a hope that it might benefit the community as much as it does them. Travis Grimler / Echo Journal

Sometimes businesses can breathe new life into quiet towns, and that's just what Sean and Rae Smuda are hoping to do with their new business, Shiners.

Sean and Rae are part of a partnership that started constructing this bar and dining establishment nearly two years ago in Jenkins, and now, since June 22, the doors have been open and their plans are in motion not only to operate a lively establishment, but also to host town festivals.

The first such town festival is the Runaway Retreat, scheduled for Friday-Sunday, Aug. 21-23. This retreat is a camping and motorcycle riding event with entertainment, including tattoo artists, bean bag toss games, live music and ax throwing. The main attraction, for those buying tickets, will be the camping and two motorcycle rides starting at Shiners and progressing to the Whitefish Chain and Longville.

Those who don't buy tickets are still welcome to come and enjoy the other forms of entertainment. There will also likely be many vintage motorcycles.

Sean and Rae hope to make this an annual event, and they hope it will lead to more community events in the future.


“We'd like to create a Shiners Fest,” Sean said. “I don't want to say that's like 'Jenkins Days,' but it is something where everybody can come and have a street dance. That's probably not in the cards for this year.”

Of course, when they are not hosting events, they will continue to offer food and adult beverages on a daily basis. The location boasts “suds subs soups salads” right on the front of the building, which is enough to show that they didn't want just another beer and burger joint. They wanted to compliment the area businesses that already existed with something that could fill a gap with something different.

“We have some appetizers and dips and whatnot,” Rae said. “And I guess we're going for that gourmet, really good food that's fast and consistent.”

It's not just the menu that is different from many other local establishments, but also the way the shop is run. Customers at the location order by kiosk, a touch screen where they choose their food and beverages and pay, then chips and sodas are available nearby while customers wait for their sandwiches to be prepared.

“We were really trying to promote online ordering,” Sean said. “And then we have a 22-inch kiosk where you order food. We just wanted to be different. We had this mentality that we didn't want it to be the same old thing. We want to be new and exciting. You can go pretty much anywhere and get a bacon cheeseburger with mozzarella sticks, but we wanted our subs to be special.”

Sean said the kiosk was inspired by a business he used to frequent.

“When I was a little kid there was this little restaurant in St. Cloud called Val's Burgers and they had the same concept where you would come in and they had two (point of sales) ordering screens,” Sean said. “You punched in what you want and it goes to the kitchen.”

The kiosk system also texts customers when their food is ready. Those who don't have time to sit in and dine also have the option of ordering online and picking up their meals from a pickup window on the south side of the building.


“It's been incredible,” Sean said. “People are really picking up online ordering. It's simple and they just come up to the window and keep on rolling. We're really hoping to tie into that (Highway) 371 traffic by getting some signage on the highway to let people know we're here.”

Bars are a family affair to Rae, and especially Sean.

“My parents owned the Nimrod bar (then called J&Js Bar and Grill) for about eight or nine years,” Sean said. “I started there when I was a freshman in college. When Rae and I got together she started working there as well.”

Rae and Sean ran the place for a few years before Rae went on to manage the Huntersville Bar (The Outpost). Sean also managed the Wolf Lake Municipal Bar. His father still owns a bar and his brother owns yet another bar. They plan to use all that experience to make Shiners a success.

Sean found he enjoyed being around people at the bar, so naturally he decided to continue the family tradition. As for Rae: “I love to cook. That's kind of my passion," she said.

The pair are really working to make the business both exciting and family friendly. They even went so far as to change the name from “Shiners Tavern” to simply “Shiners” once they realized how close they would be to the playground at Veterans Park in Jenkins.

Sean's time in Nimrod was part of what inspired him to host community events. They'd like to work on an Oktoberfest type celebration as well.

“When we were in Nimrod, we had Nimrod Jubilee Days, which is one of the bigger small town festivals, so we prepared there for thousands of people,” Sean said. “We just don't know what to expect for this weekend, but we're definitely going to be prepared.”


To help make the event a success, Shiners is partnered with an event organizer, Jade Presents out of Fargo. This same company is responsible for music festivals and other larger events, so Sean and Rae are confident that they will be more than ready when they join forces to bring the event to life.

“We just want it to be a really chill weekend,” Sean said. “Whoever can just come and have fun and good conversation and not stress. We aren't doing an outside beer tent for this event. It's mainly to help promote us and get our name out there.”

More information can be found on the Shiners Facebook page. Tickets and information on the Runaway Retreat may be found at

Travis Grimler may be reached at 218-855-5853 or Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at

Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
What To Read Next
Get Local


Must Reads