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home : sports / outdoors : sports/outdoors Monday, October 23, 2017

9/10/2015 4:03:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article 
Running Aces Opens New Live Trout Pond

Amy Doeun

When Taro Ito became President and CEO of Running Aces in Columbus, Minnesota he was charged with bringing success to a business that had yet to find its niche.

Ito told Hmong Times that one of the first things he did was interview locals about Running Aces, " I started asking a lot of people about Running Aces and they didn't know about it."

Running Aces sits of the site of Trout Air. The Preiner family turned this farmland into a successful business from the 1960s-1999. The Preiners had intended to farm the land but then discovered the low-lying land was not good for farming.

"In 1964, the Trout Air trout farm was born." This farm raised fish for "commercial use as well as for the sport fishing enjoyment." They also allowed skydiving on their property.

The farm also served its own fish at the Trout Air Tavern. Originally the restaurant was designed to serve those returning from their "sky diving adventures," but grew to be much more. Ito said that he also interviewed people about their memories of Trout Air Tavern, which closed in 1999 and discovered that many people had, very personal stories [about the restaurant]. Some brought a prom date there, others had their first kiss, and it was really iconic in the North Metro.

Ito said that he hoped to leverage that brand name and negotiated with the Preiner family. They allowed him to rename the restaurant at Running Aces, "Trout Air Tavern," and even contributed some of the original recipes from the restaurant.

While the restaurant has been open since May on Saturday, August 7 they opened a Live Trout Pond for a complete, "Pond to Plate" experience. Ito said, "It is a completion of the whole concept." Customers can come to the trout pond, which is stocked weekly, and catch their own trout, which is then put in a numbered box and sent to the kitchen, they can also choose to keep it. They have the choice of having their fish fried or broiled and it comes with tater tots or French fries and either soup or salad.

The day of the opening Hmong Times tried it out. We found the pond beautiful and the staff extremely friendly. They were there to help you succeed and catch fish. Four children in our group caught fish and for 3 of them it was their first fish. We also tried all the variations of fish, soup and salad. Everything was delicious but the broiled option was a favorite. The fish was seasoned with the original Swedish style seasoning of Trout Air. Ito said he went all the way to Chicago to find the source of the seasoning.

The staff even made a certificate for those who had caught their first fish.

Ito said that he hopes to expand the audience. "We were only well known in the gaming community. But we offer harness racing, the trout pond and restaurant." He added that the comfort of families is a high priority and that, "We are family friendly and smoke free."

He also hopes to attract "foodies" to the area. Food is like the new rock stars. He also hopes that Running Aces will become a tourist destination.

A fish from the trout pond costs about $21 for the whole experience. There is also a fish with a red tag if you are lucky enough to catch it you will win $100.

Running Aces is open Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

St. Paul, MN


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