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Uptown Restaurant earns Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence

The Uptown features a full bar, table and booth seating and a separate room for private parties. (Brian Hansel/Pioneer Journal)1 / 3
The Uptown is at the corner of Jefferson Street and Colfax Avenue in downtown Wadena. (Brian Hansel/Pioneer Journal)2 / 3
Uptown Cooks Brian Johannes, left, and Shane Thalmann stayed busy with a noon hour order Monday in the kitchen at the downtown Wadena restaurant. Brian Hansel/Pioneer Journal3 / 3

It's easy to find bad reviews of things online, so Uptown Restaurant in Wadena must be doing something right when it not only gets good reviews, but it gets enough of them over the course of a year to be recognized by travel web site, Trip Advisor.

Kyle Hagen, co-owner of Uptown, said the award is based on customer reviews for 2017. Trip Advisor got ahold of Hagen and sent him a plaque. The official title of the award is, "Trip Advisor 2017 Certificate of Excellence for Consistent Achievement of High Ratings."

He said he wants customers to let him know how they are doing, and while they don't like getting a bad review, it helps to know what needs to be fixed.

"We learn more from our mistakes; so, I'll change what needs to be changed," he said. "The positive comments, and consistent good reviews hopefully means we are doing well.

For him the award means his employees are taking it to heart when they talk about treating customers like they would friends and family in their own home. And he's glad people had a good enough time that they want others to know.

"I have a great staff. I'll never ever say this place is good because of me. I have awesome employees," Hagen said.

When he and his brother envisioned what they wanted their restaurant to offer, it was a place for families to get together and enjoy good food, and unique food, such as peanut butter and pepper jelly. "You will not find that anywhere else," Hagen said.

And what was that taste testing like? "Fun," Hagen answers with a smile, "so fun."

The menu has 17 different types of burgers, and if a customer tries one and doesn't like it, he will buy it, but Hagen hasn't had to buy any yet. He realizes the speciality burgers aren't for everyone, which is why the tried and true favorites are also on the menu.

Hagen feels the worse thing you can do is stand still, which is why he likes to change things up and keep the menu fresh.

Hagen and his older brother have owned Uptown for three years now, and he enjoys every minute of it. From serving to bartending, to cooking.

"It's great to be in back and peek out to see how the restaurant is doing. It's loud in here, I like that, seeing people come in and enjoy themselves," he said. "We want people to come in and have a good a time."

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