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St. Cloud Hospital

Shawn Petersen
St. Cloud Hospital

Class of 2005

Shawn Petersen, the mastermind behind Corks Grill & Wine Bar, follows his grandfather's advice: Do what you love and everything else will follow.

What are you doing now?

After closing Corks in 2009, I knew I wanted to work in health care in some capacity. I spent the last few years earning a bachelor's degree in nursing. I am now happy to have found my next career as a registered nurse at the St. Cloud Hospital.

How did the 5 Under 40 award affect your life?

The 5 Under 40 award is something that I am very proud of, and I feel honored to be among the others that have received the award. It is also something that helped provide opportunities during the restaurant's operation as well as in my pursuits since.

Other big changes since you received the award?

One of the biggest and best changes for my wife and I was the birth of our first child, our now 3-year-old daughter. We are expecting our second child in November, and we are celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary this month.

What will make the St. Cloud area greater in coming years?

I think one strength that St. Cloud has that will help in the future is its growing diversity. I believe that this will be an invaluable asset in all fields, including health care.

2005 Interview

Originally ran: January 1, 2006

Age: 35

Born: Edina

Job: Owner of Corks Grill & Wine Bar Inc. in St. Cloud

Education: Normandale Community College in Bloomington, University of Minnesota, bachelor's degree from St. Cloud State University

Family: Wife, Meg Flynn

What is the best advice you've received?

My grandpa always said, "If you do something you love, the money and everything else will follow."

Why do you love the restaurant industry?

This is different from most restaurants because it's more relaxed, and we get to share in a lot of really neat experiences that people have in their lives. We have people proposing. We have people celebrating jobs. We have people celebrating (when they're) cured of cancer. Even people here on a normal night, you can see them relax.

How long have you been a wine aficionado?

I've always had an appreciation for it. (Just before I opened the restaurant,) I found a book I bought when I was 13 on how to make your own wine. I've always liked to cook. I have pictures from my 11th or 13th birthday, and I had all my friends around with crab. That was my birthday dinner. We were having crab, and I was making mussels.

What did you have to give up to get where you are?

Not a whole lot. Not as much as we got back. We had to risk the money that we had.
A lot of our savings. Other than that, time. It's kind of hard being away from my wife at night. But she comes in here and helps with dishes and has dinner and does everything else.

In what ways have you emerged as a leader in this community?

I think the restaurant itself is different just because it is smaller; it is independent. It's a different pace. Instead of trying to turn the tables as fast as we can, we allow about two hours between seatings. With that, we take a little bit longer to make the food. We're cutting the herbs fresh instead of having them set up ahead of time.

How do you stay competitive in the saturated St. Cloud restaurant market?

We're focused more on wine. We have 107 wines. We have kind of an eclectic or international menu. It's slower, too. We have 40 seats. If we had 150 or 200 seats, I think we would have more pressure to compete against everybody else or try to lower the prices. To do that, we would have to lower the quality of what we're buying.

What is the motto you live by?

Do what you love. It's not doing things out of have-to's, but doing things out of things you get to do.

How did you develop it?

When I graduated from college, I thought I could get a desk job. I thought that was what I was supposed to do. I was working at Fingerhut. ... That really was not a good fit for me. I wanted to do something fun and creative. I had a long day. I went home and I turned on a stove to make a candle, and I sat down on the couch and I fell asleep.

I woke up to my dog barking, licking me in the face. I looked over at the stove. It was on fire. I went over and grabbed the pan ... and threw it outside. It turned out that I had to have six skin grafts, and I couldn't work for months. I lost the tip of one of my fingers. At one point, they said they were going to take off my whole hand.

After that, my wife and I decided I should do something that I love. We took a big risk and started this.

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