Members at a Minnesota country club are indulging themselves at a revamped casual eatery that combines food and fun.
Belly up to the bar—and stay for the simulator. That’s exactly what members are doing inside the Austin (Minn.) Country Club, which recently unveiled a new restaurant, Bunkers. Part of a larger $5.2 million clubhouse project, the casual dining facility invites visitors to enjoy a cocktail, tuck into a delicious meal and take a swing on the indoor golf simulator—all within the same footprint.
According to General Manager William J. Budion, CCM, a clubhouse refresh was long overdue; after a fire had decimated the building in 1989 and was rebuilt the following year, it remained largely untouched. “We started with a master plan in 2018 and held focus groups to come up with different design options,” he explains.
A successful renovation of the pool, outdoor kitchen and bar in 2021 gave way to the clubhouse project, affording members new meeting and event space, a refreshed pro shop and finally, Bunkers. The 10-month-long project was completed last December, enabling the bar and eatery to open just in time for holiday toasting.
Located just inside the main level entrance to the clubhouse, Bunkers is easily accessible to members and their guests. A horseshoe-shaped Cambria bar is positioned on the righthand side with high-top leather bar stools. LED accent lighting, along with pendant fixtures, illuminates the bar area as well as the back bar, and luxury vinyl plank flooring enhances the contemporary interior.
On the other side of a half wall is the dining room, set with low-top tables and tan upholstered chairs that tie into the color palette of the rest of the clubhouse. Designers opted for neutral carpeting with removable squares chosen for its ease of maintenance. Of special note is Bunkers’ back wall where a backlit stain glass window depicts a signature hole on the club’s golf course.
“It was originally put in after the clubhouse burned down … it’s iconic and so we decided to keep the tradition,” notes Budion.
While the redesign afforded Bunkers a relatively modest uptick in seating—four seats amounting to a 92-person occupancy—the addition of a simulator room adjacent to Bunkers has proven to be a valuable asset. Budion says the team debated about its placement and ultimately decided to switch the simulator’s orientation, removing it from the sight lines in the bar area.
“We were a bit nervous about how it would fit into the atmosphere, but it has become seamless,” he adds.
As with any multistage project, particularly those that took place in the wake of the pandemic, the design team was faced with a few minor setbacks. In addition to starting later than expected and some extra breaks in the schedule, supply chain issues were a concern.
“Our biggest challenge was with the bar die wall and we had to build our schedule around the custom work,” notes Budion.
But with those obstacles now firmly in the rearview mirror, members at Austin Country Club are more than thrilled with the results of their new go-to destination.
“Our former grill didn’t have such a friendly, inviting atmosphere,” says Budion. “Now our members can enjoy the clubhouse bar instead of going elsewhere, and with our simulator, they can use the club in the off season.”
Bunkers’ redesign has also enabled a menu overhaul, with more starters and entrees—and even new dishes.
“The new environment, colors and presentation make everything more welcoming,” adds Budion. “We are really excited to continue seeing our members enjoying it.”
Austin Country Club
Interior design: Chambers, Minneapolis, Minn.; Baltimore, Md.
Flooring/carpeting: Mohawk Carpet, Daltile; Mosaic Tile Co.,
Tarkett, Mannington Flooring
Lighting: Visual Comfort, Kichle Lighting, Progress Lighting
Furniture: Aceray, Kravet, D’style, Uttermost, Arteriors Contract, Lee Industries, LebaTex, Architex International; Kellex Corporation; Fairfield; Soft Touch Wood; Table Designs; Amish Woodworking
Wall paint: Sherwin-Williams
Simulator: HD Golf – Interactive Sports Technologies Inc.
Acoustical tiles/panels: Armstrong
Acoustic Screen: Arktura
Bar top: Cambria