Mary Tjosvold, already recognized for decades of health care innovation and humanitarian efforts, is winning national accolades as owner of Crooners Lounge and Supper Club in Fridley.
The nightspot earned a spot on DownBeat magazine’s 2018 “Great Jazz Venue” list. “Crooners celebrates and pays homage to the era when Sinatra ruled the airwaves, America’s best restaurants served ‘Continental Cuisine’ and patrons dressed up when dining out,” the magazine wrote.
Tjosvold and her late husband, British pianist and composer Laurence “Larry” Dunsmore, who died in 2015, founded Crooners in 2014.
The club presents local and national acts nightly in its 200-seat main lounge and 90-seat Dunsmore Room. The latter is a distraction-free “listening room” featuring a nine-foot Steinway grand piano and views of Moore Lake.
“Larry knew about performers, he knew about good food,” Tjosvold said. “I know that what people want is an experience. We’re giving you an experience in which you can shut out the world … where people would come for the evening, for the music and for fine food.”
As founder and CEO of Mary T. Inc., Tjosvold oversees a company that offers home health care, rental and senior housing, human service programs, independent living services and hospice care. The company has 1,200 employees and locations in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Arizona and Maryland.
The former board chairwoman of the American Refugee Committee travels extensively doing humanitarian work, planning trips this year to Kenya, Uganda and Thailand. She also has opened a nursery and primary school in Cameroon.
Tjosvold, who has a doctoral degree in education administration from the University of Minnesota, has received the U’s Outstanding Achievement Award.
Q: How would you describe your approach to business?
A: It’s always driven by what people need instead of assuming things are OK the way they are or what is easier to manage or where you make more money. Rather than thinking about what you want to do in business you have to think about what people need.
Q: How do your businesses support your humanitarian efforts?
A: I realized shortly after getting into business that even if businesses are for-profit they can have a significant impact on society. You can use business as a way to give back to your local community, to your country and to the world.
Q: What has helped make Crooners Lounge a success?
A: One thing is that the performers appreciate the way we treat them and understand their talent. It’s the respect we show to the performers and the respect we expect people who come here to show the performers. The performers are very accessible. They stop at tables. They talk with people. It’s like they’re in your living room.