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New owners at Foxy's Bar and Grill

Foxy's Bar and Grill is now under new ownership. The new owners pictured at the bar, from left, are Kathy Gray, Cory Williams, Brian Gray, Shawn Gray and Carmen Gray (not pictured.) (Nicole Vik/ Enterprise)

Foxy’s Bar and Grill, north of Park Rapids has five new owners. Cory Williams, Shawn and Carmen Gray and Brian and Kathy Gray all agree their main concern is to provide a world class customer experience.

Cory started working at the bar by coincidence four years ago, when a friend talked up his bartending skills to one of the then owners, Mark Fox.

The Grays had been to the bar several times as patrons and became familiar with Cory’s excellent customer service.

During one of their conversations Cory had mentioned that he may want to own the bar someday so when the previous owners, Chris Fox and Mark Fox, listed the bar for sale that ramped up their efforts.

“The idea started in November and it kind of festered pretty quickly and we closed in March,” Shawn said.

According to Cory, the previous owners had made a lot of improvements to the bar and created a good atmosphere and now they don’t plan on altering much.

“We chose to keep the name, we’re proud of what we’ve done over the last three or four years and we just want to try to keep a good thing going,” Cory explained. “We’re not looking to reinvent the wheel, there’s not going to be a lot of changes.”

“Foxy’s is still Foxy’s but it’s going to be even better,” Shawn added. “They’ve grown every year for five years from a sales perspective and so this isn’t a turn-around it’s just a boost to continue moving in the right direction.”

“We have more wait staff available,” Cory explained about improving customer service. “We’re going to have twice as many people on staff on a Friday and Saturday night than we’ve ever had before.”

“We want it to be somewhere where people are greeted and taken care of by warm and friendly staff so that they want to come back,” Shawn added.

The new owners are in the process of updating their computer system to make things easier for their customers and staff, the kitchen will be open later in the evenings. They would also like to find ways to increase parking and make improvements to the outside of the building.

“We have kind of a unique spot because you can get here by boat from three lakes,” Shawn explained about making the bar more accessible by water.

“We are trying to attract more lake traffic. We have four docks that people can use,” Cory added, explaining they would like to draw in the people who own cabins on the lakes.

“We have a lot of local people that support us, but we also get a very big amount of vacationers,” he said.

The new owners are also making improvements on an entertainment level. Cory explained that he is a fan of all things retro.

He added a few old arcade games to the bar, including Pac-Man and Galaga. Video game stations are set up at the bar where patrons can play Atari or Super Nintendo as well. They also hope to be hosting more live music in the future.

“It’s nice to see young energy with ideas,” Kathy said about Cory’s improvements.

Even though they have injected ideas of their own the Grays all agreed that Cory is the “idea guy.” He is very animated with tons of ideas and visions to make the bar an enjoyable destination.

“What’s cool is that we’ve got four minds that can come together and say we’ve got the ideas, let’s figure out which ones are actually going to work or that we can throw some money at,” Shawn said about their partnership.

“Kathy and I have been around restaurants and businesses for quite a while so we kind of know what it takes,” Brian said about their collaboration. “But we also know you’ve got to have the young blood here to make it move forward.”

Even though they are all from this area, Shawn and his wife Carmen live in Beijing, China with their two young children, and they are only in Park Rapids part-time. Brian and Kathy frequently travel and they also own Espresso 34. They say Cory is the lead guy.

“It’s his show, it’s his bar, but we’re here. We’re partners and we want everyone to know it’s his place, but we’re still engaged,” Shawn explained. “Cory is really the lead guy, he’s great with customers, he has an awesome attitude, and he’s the spirit of the place.”

Cory stressed the importance of creating a welcoming atmosphere.

“You’ve got to have fun, you get a good group of people and you get organized enough to where you can handle the chaos, you can have fun,” Cory said about his new partnership.

“We’ve got a really unique place here we’re really excited just to have our opportunity to see what we can do.”