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At Grill Hall Churrascaria, A Proud
Tradition Arrives on Skewers

Maple Grove, Minnesota

The dishes at Grill Hall Churrascaria in Maple Grove roll off the tongue like lyrics from a spectacularly detailed ode to meat written and sung in Portuguese: Costela de Porco. Bife de Cordeiro. Picanha. Linguiça! The newly opened restaurant is a traditional Brazilian churrascaria steakhouse, which means that visitors pay a set price and are then besieged by skewers of flame-finished meats until they finally surrender.

The basic menu includes 12 dishes, ranging from leg of lamb to sausage to bacon-wrapped chicken breast; the upper tier experience includes an additional four meats featuring the likes of beef tenderloin and lamb chops. It’s a lot, but that’s the point – it’s part of a tradition that founders Eliane Strouth and Marcio Luis de Morais have brought to Minnesota with a combination of pride and intense training.

“I’ve been working in Brazilian steakhouses since I was 17, starting in Brazil,” says de Morais. “Before I came to America I worked maybe 10 years there in five different steakhouses – I learned a lot. I worked at Fogo de Chao here starting in 2008 and my last day there was on Father’s Day [2019]. I was there for 11 years. But the Grill Hall, says de Morais, is more than the latest item on his steakhouse-focused resume – it’s a celebration of Brazilian culture.

[Ever] since you’re little, you’re helping your dad do barbecue every Sunday at home,” he says. “What we’re doing here is bringing a little bit of the taste of Southern Brazil, the way it’s served there – carving meats table side, cooked fresh daily and brought right to the table.”

“Everything started when Eliane bought the coffee shop that was here before,” says co-owner Marcio Luis de Morais, talking about the longstanding neighborhood spot called Lily’s Cafe. “The place went vacant, and she called me and said: ‘Hey, maybe we can turn this into a steakhouse!’”

But the steakhouse has more than meats on skewers plus a sprawling salad bar; Strouth runs a breakfast program in the space, too. “My challenge is to learn to do everything,” she says. “[Lily’s offered] American breakfast: bacon and eggs, Eggs Benedict, sausage gravy with biscuits, you know. I tried to blend a little bit of Mexican flavor with Brazilian flavor, but for breakfast people love the pancakes, the eggs, and the bacon.”

Launching the Grill Hall, with its ambitious menus and team of experienced servers, didn’t happen overnight. For de Morais, getting the Grill Hall up and running is the culmination of more than a decade in Minnesota, starting with a cold and rocky start: “The first year was the most scary one – I got sick, I got strep, I almost died,” he recalls. “But now I love it! For us, for this kind of menu, winter is the best time – it’s when we get busy.”

A Blueprint for Culinary Success

If the menu is the heart of Grill Hall Churrascaria, the structure itself is the body, ready to bear the day-to-day burdens of serving its customers and staff, in style. “The restaurant combines wood, stone, and metal to make a more rustic and authentic feel,” says de Marais. “Authentic Brazilian steakhouses have wood as much as they can inside of the place, iron as a symbol of an older time, and stone.”

Terry Torson, of Boelter Landmark Foodservice, Equipment and Design was instrumental in giving the Grill Hall both its look and its functionality. “They helped me a lot, especially in the kitchen,” says de Morais. “I just told them what I wanted and they put it on paper and it made my life so much easier with Boelter’s help,” he says. Boelter Landmark, he says, helped him map out a restaurant that would serve diners and gauchos [Brazilian steakhouse chef-servers]. “They made a project [with] prep tables, for salads, for desserts… when they came here, they saw the space and said – you can prep meats here… they made a big walk-in cooler inside the kitchen, and calculated space for meats, for salads, for breakfast… then you have freezers and the cooler, plus coolers for the beers and wines.”

A professional layout, says de Morais, sets the Grill Hall up for success – and potentially wider horizons. “We made the right choice [with Boelter,]” says de Morais, talking about he and Strouth’s plans for future expansion. ”This is the first one, but our goal is to have four more of these in the metro area, and then there’s nothing [no churrascarias] in North Dakota or South Dakota, or Wisconsin.”

“People are asking – ‘put one in Stillwater!’” laughs Strouth. But for now, she adds, she and de Morais have their hands full. “I’m here sometimes from 6:45 am to 8 at night, maybe I take a break for half and hour and go home,” she says. “We’ll make it. That’s how we’ll be successful. We have to be here to learn everything. Then when everything’s in the right place we can get more relaxed.”

Grill Hall Churrascaria, 9695 63rd Avenue North, Maple Grove, MN, 763-999-5918