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Published July 10, 2009, 07:00 AM

Zorbaz celebrates 25 years on Little Pine

“I started here in 1984 for Jeff and Bonnie Tweeton,” explains Todd Colliton of his Zorbaz beginnings. “I was 16 years old.” Twenty-five years later, Colliton is the owner of the Perham Zorbaz restaurant, located on Little Pine Lake.

By: Heidi Kratzke, Perham Enterprise Bulletin

“I started here in 1984 for Jeff and Bonnie Tweeton,” explains Todd Colliton of his Zorbaz beginnings. “I was 16 years old.”

Twenty-five years later, Colliton is the owner of the Perham Zorbaz restaurant, located on Little Pine Lake. Having started as an employee at Zorbaz the first year it was open, Colliton has experienced first-hand the changes the place has been through over the last quarter-century.

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Perham Zorbaz, a special celebration is planned for Saturday, July 18. This local anniversary is also tied to the 40th anniversary of the Zorbaz chain as a whole—which started with the Detroit Lakes Zorbaz in 1969.

On different weekends throughout the summer, all nine Zorbaz locations are holding celebrations in honor of the D.L. Zorbaz’s 40th. The Detroit Lakes Zorbaz held their party on June 26 and 27, complete with birthday cake and live music.

Plans for the Perham Zorbaz bash include music and food and drink specials. Entertainment by area band “Sapphire” will begin at 9:30 p.m. The all-day celebration, running from 11 a.m. – 2 a.m., will feature pizza and margarita specials, along with a beer special of 69 cent Grain Belt Premium on tap.

“There’s going to be a lot of stuff going on,” Colliton says, encouraging everyone to stop by sometime during the day.

With his Zorbaz experience starting at age 16, Colliton continued to harbor an appreciation for the franchise, managing the Pelican Lake Zorbaz from 1989-1992. When the opportunity presented itself for Colliton to take over the Perham Zorbaz in 1998, he eagerly stepped into the ownership position.

He says his favorite part of the business is the opportunity he has to interact with customers. “A lot of customers who’ve been coming here for years are great family friends,” Colliton says. As co-owners of the restaurant, he and his wife, Cherri, work to promote the business as a place for families. The couple’s own kids, Katelyn and Conner, are often at the family’s restaurant.

“We’re always trying to keep things fun and maintain a family atmosphere,” he says. “We try to be active in the community and have different events out here.” Colliton believes it’s important to invest in the community, and appreciates the willingness of Perham businesses to support local fundraisers and projects.

As far as his business goes, Colliton aims to keep the community interested in what’s going on at the restaurant. He says he’s always creating new menu items and ideas for pizzas.

The building itself has undergone some major changes under Colliton’s supervision. As of October last year, the building was officially winterized, allowing Zorbaz to stay open year-round for the first time this year. The extensive project included residing the building and installing new windows.

The restaurant, which previously underwent multiple expansions, is now larger and ready for business throughout the year. With a stunning lakeside location, it’s sure to be a family favorite for years to come.

“At Zorbaz, not one day is the same as the day before,” comments Colliton, adding, “When your office is a view of the lake, it’s not too bad.”

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