Indeed, you can say passion for great food drives people to open a restaurant. This passion rings true for Chianti Grill owners; however, even more than great food, their love for their community ranks even higher.
In 1997, Bob Gillen and Kevin Schleif, after years working with the locally-owned and operated Ciatti’s group, were presented an opportunity to branch out and start the Chianti Grill, which has locations in Roseville and Burnsville.
Both Bob and Kevin started with a zest for community service, guest service, and glorious food and wine. Their hearts are devoted to the small community of Burnsville, and they and their staff take pride in welcoming guests into their establishment as if it were their home.
Chianti Grill’s culinary concept marries Napa Valley and Tuscany’s flavors, like their twists on classic dishes, such as the Seafood Cannelloni or Pumpkin Tiramisu. Chefs create outstanding dishes from scratch in their made-to-order kitchen. They prepare all their dressings and sauces in-house, and entrees feature fresh and local ingredients delivered daily. Chef Ben Krukow makes a point to stay educated on up and coming trends, which inspires his chefs to create new recipes.
“I think we strive to be the best higher-end restaurant south of the river, and we’ve worked really hard to achieve that,” says the restaurant’s general manager Lori Pfannenstein.
Beyond the fantastic food, Lori attributes a large part of their success to the strong relationships they’ve built beyond the building. “Chianti Grill donates to schools and school organizations; we partner with a local church. At the end of the day, we don’t just serve great food – we’ve built relationships that draw people to our restaurant experience. They continue to support us, and we appreciate it greatly.”
Chianti Grill has been fortunate to retain a close-knit crew that loves what they do and have been a part of the “family” for a long time. Most have been working at Chianti Grill for more than a decade, Lori being one of them.
“It’s been a wonderful place for me to work, “ Lori expresses. “The ownership cares for its people. And that’s why they’ve stayed so long.” Lori says for many GMs, it’s difficult finding the right work-life balance. However, Lori praises Chianti Grill for its consideration of people’s personal lives. “They make it work and care about our families. We support each other. I love my job and the people here. With or without the pandemic, we’re here for each other. I love working here.”
Other than the recommended CDC guidelines, Chianti Grill has just amplified the cleaning practices they’ve been doing all along. Additionally, they added glass between booths and do their best to safely maximize how many customers we can host in the building. “We’re doing our due diligence,” Lori says. “We’re making sure guests are safe – we’ve always done that.”
Before COVID hit, Chianti Grill did a fair amount of takeout, but it didn’t bring in the revenue it did today. They created menus to be more pandemic-friendly, such as their “Pasta Party” family-style takeout meals, which feed 4-5 people. They offer curbside pickup and are delivering food in the way people want. “Now we have a full-time takeout person every day of the week,” states Lori.
Restaurants have likely been hit the hardest through the pandemic. Those at Chianti Grill hope they can get back to 100 percent capacity. “We want to get back to hosting business events, bridal events, grooms dinners – it’s what we love so much but had to limit based on the pandemic.”
When it comes to contributing to the Burnsville experience, Lori says they couldn’t be more grateful to be here. “I think those who walk through our doors see who we are: a warm, welcoming city that just loves people. We’re so glad to be a part of Burnsville and to be planted here. From breakfast Rotary to all events. Our community supports us, and we do our best to support them back.”
Chianti Grill is located at 14296 Plymouth Avenue, Burnsville, MN 55337. Phone: 952-892-7555. For more information visit: www.chiantigrill.com