209 Pub & Grill interviewed by “America’s Best Restaurant”

During the interview with 209 Pub owner Herb Knutson (left) and general manager Becky Portner (Center), America's Best Restaurant host Daniel Detomo tries the Lamplighter Burger.

NEW ULM – Social media program “America’s Best Restaurant” dropped into 209 Pub & Grill, Friday to sample the food and learn the restaurant’s story.

“America’s Best Restaurant” is on a mission to feature the best independent restaurants in the USA. Every day, the program sends film crews out to restaurants across the country to interview restaurant owners.

Show host Danyel Detomo and videographer DeAngelo McDonald spent the Friday lunch rush at Pub 209 to experience the food and interview staff.

Detomo said the program learns of independent restaurants through an application program.

“If the restaurant fits our requirements — if we realize we have the real deal — we come out for an episode,” Detomo said.

209 Pub staff and America's Best Restaurant film crew celebrate after recording an episode in New Ulm. ( L to R) America’s Best Restaurant videographer DeAngelo McDonald, 209 Pub kitchen manager Brandon Roiger, 209 Pub owner Herb Knutson, 209 Pub general manager Becky Portner and America’s Best Restaurant host Danyel Detomo.

The 209 Pub General Manager Becky Portner said after learning of about the America’s Best Restaurant program she took a chance and applied. She said the application process was short. She only had to answer a few questions, including why 209 Pub should be featured.

Not long after applying, Portner learned they were selected to be featured.

Detomo said when vetting application, they look for two things. The first is food.

“The food needs to be good,” Detomo said. With independent restaurants like 209 Pub, the food is generally homemade and meets the’s the standard. However, America’s Best Restaurant is looking for more than good food. The second thing they look for is a good story and 209 Pub has great one.

“Our story, with the fire and the quick turnaround that made 209 Pub possible, is a great story,” Portner said.

On Sept. 2, 2022 an early morning fire ravaged the interior of the Lamplighter, forcing the restaurant and bar to close. However, Lamplighter owner Herb Knutson was not content to give up. Shortly after the Lamplighter closed, Knutson began looking for a new location to restart the Lamplighter. A space became available 209 N. Minnesota Street. Knutson was able to purchase the building. Along with Lamplighter staff, he was able to reopen at this new location within a month, just in time for Oktoberfest.

The restaurant is at a new location with a different name, but the staff and menu is mostly the same. In an interview with America’s Best Restaurant, Knutson said opening 209 Pub so quickly after the fire was only possible because of his staff and the support of the community.

Portner said so many local businesses chipped in to help when they needed it. She remembers that after long days of working the restaurant to get it ready, they would find out someone in the community had ordered pizza for the staff. It showed the Lamplighter meant a lot to the community.

Each episode of America’s Best Restaurant features three dishes. For the 209 Pub episode, Detomo sampled their Fettuccine Alfredo, Potato Skins, The Lamplighter Burger and Hidden Bay Alaska Salmon.

Detomo said they always want to find a unique entree to feature on the show. For this show, she was able to watch the cooks prepare Fettuccine Alfredo, which uses 209 Pub’s famous Alfredo sauce.

The Lamplighter Burger was named after the previous restaurant and was popular menu item there. In fact, all the menu items from the Lamplighter came over to 209 Pub.

The full interview with 209 Pub staff will be available when the episode premiers. Typically, it takes between two and three months to edit an episode together. The 209 Pub episode of America’s Best Restaurant will likely be completed by June or July.


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