Our Team

Robert Lillegard

CEO & Public Relations

Robert started his career as a national food and travel writer for magazines like New York Times, Outside Magazine, Cooking Light, Midwest Living, and (surprisingly) Latina. He’ll craft the perfect blog post or story pitch, get you covered in the media, and tell you honestly if your ideas are bad. He spends his summers at Northland Lodge, an 18-cabin luxury resort on Leech Lake that his wife runs, and winters near Duluth, where he co-owns artisanal bakery Duluth’s Best Bread.


Michelle Niemi


After three years as general manager of a multi-million dollar resort (Horseshoe Bay) and over twenty as an accountant, Brainerd, Minnesota-based Michelle is an ace at connecting the dots and making sure things get done. She schedules appointments, handles the invoices, and generally makes the wheels turn. Don’t cross Michelle.


John Shirley

Writer and Web Manager

St Louis native John Shirley found a new home in Duluth as a professional writer for publications like Duluth-Superior Living, Woman Today, the Budgeteer, and the Reader Weekly. He’s conducted several interviews for me for national magazines and has a knack for finding the funny side of any situation–a gift that serves him well in his writing. In addition to his blog work, John manages websites for national franchisees.


Michael Lillegard


Michael, the better-looking Lillegard brother, co-owns the bakery with me and sells to several restaurants. He served as a cookbook recipe tester for the Duluth Grill Cookbook.

He is also my Twitter lead and runs Twitter accounts for national franchisees in both the US and Canada. He has the mathematical background needed to wade through the analytics and the discipline you’d expect from someone who’s both a black belt and an Eagle Scout.


Olya Pavlova

Researcher/Personal Assistant

Originally from Duluth, Olya’s background in synthetic chemistry makes her the perfect person to arrange interviews and organize data. She’s pulled together information for national magazines, set up interviews, and even coordinated book signings at Barnes and Noble.