Milda's Cafe - 1825 Glenwood Avenue ---- 1978
Photo credit: Posted on Facebook 'Old North Minneapolis' on Jan. 11, 2015 by Emory Anderson (accessed 2017.jan.09):
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This 1978 photo is a few years after the Finntown days. The Neighborhood had lost a lot of its Finnish identity by then, and was becoming much more ethnically diverse. Milda's Cafe was the last of the Finnish owned and operated businesses in the old Finntown area. A woman of Finnish heritage, Milda Hokkenan, opened the doors on April 1, 1965 as a small cafe with a staff of three. Milda's Cafe is still open, but has moved one block east of this location on Glenwood Avenue. Milda's has been proud of itself as a "Small Town Cafe" in the big city, with good food, great service, reasonable prices, and a clean and friendly atmosphere. After Milda retired, her daughter Jane and son-in-law Tom Eisenschenk ran the Cafe until their retirement in 2016. The cafe is still running, under new ownership, but no longer owned and operated by a descendant of Finntown.
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Following text credit :: from NorthNews newspaper, written by Margo Ashmore, November 2, 2012 ::
. . . . . . Milda’s Cafe on Glenwood and Morgan stopped offering evening meals long ago, in the early 1970s. Milda Hokkanen, a widow with three children, started the restaurant in 1965 at age 50; the evening hours were too taxing. Her daughter Jane Eisenschenk and Jane’s husband Tom own the restaurant now. They decided four years ago to close on weekends as well, not for lack of business but for lack of family time. Jane explained that with two cooks and two grills cooking non-stop complicated breakfast meals “it was hard to keep up and they’d be totally wiped out,” tired physically.
. . . . . . For you see, the secret to their success, Jane said, is “for any restaurant, you need to stick to what you can do.” For Tom the cook, that means not pre-preparing sausages and bacon and other parts of a meal that most restaurants do—so those items, and pancakes and eggs, take up grill space.
. . . . . . People have suggested menu changes and expansions, but “repeat customers know what we have. Whether it’s hot beef, pasties, or caramel rolls, we still have it. We maintain the same quality, the same recipe, the same ingredients. We hear them say, ‘I was so hungry for this and it tastes exactly the same as I remember,’” Jane said.
. . . . . . Lunch might be a soup special at $5.75, pasties and gravy (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) at $7.75, hot dish at $7.35. “For $10 you can get a meal and beverage.” Tom’s choice, served until 10 a.m. is two eggs, hashbrowns and toast for $4.75. It’s all comfort food, “not diet food, a fresh fruit plate isn’t what people are coming here for. It’s like if you want a steak you go to a steak place, or seafood you go to a seafood place,” Jane said.
. . . . . . Milda started out with just pasties, the meat-vegetable-potato filled pastries enjoyed with gravy and a side of cole slaw. The building (what is today Elite Catering and Sunnyside Cafe across the street) was Wells Memorial, a settlement house which merged with Unity House and Northside Settlement Services in 1967. “It was the GlenMor Cafe but everyone knew it as Milda’s,” Jane said, “She had never worked in a restaurant but she had cooked for the threshing crews in North Dakota. She would say she was too ignorant to be afraid.”
. . . . . . People asked “what else can you make?” Jane’s father was a baker, so Milda had learned from him. She always made the rolls at Milda’s, and gradually learned restaurant cooking from other cooks she hired as “she kept knocking down walls” to expand. Milda Hokkanen died in 2005.
. . . . . . Jane is out front and handles the business end; Tom and Jane are there daily, open 6 a.m.-3 p.m., arriving at 3:15 a.m. Tom makes the soups, gravies, hot dishes and hot cereals for the day before they open.
. . . . . . The Eisenschenks employ five servers and two cashiers, a busser, a dishwasher and three cooks in addition to Tom; not all are full time and usually two are off on any given day. Jane’s taking part of Mondays off to tend a grandchild.
. . . . . . While they don’t have much turnover in employees, Jane said their application reflects the fact they have “every person in the world come in here, from millionaires to low income, all races, creeds, orientations. We make the point that they have to be able to accept and respect all people.”
. . . . . . The immediate neighborhood has changed quite a bit recently, with old houses being torn down and new ones going up. Young people, newly-married people—all good signs, “and the crime rate is not much of a big deal anymore, it’s been relatively quiet,” Jane said. Busy as they may be at the peaks, “we welcome new customers.”
. . . . . . Business comes from all over, people from the neighborhood as well those working downtown, a lot from Golden Valley. “There’s not a lot of traffic now on Glenwood from farther out. It used to be bumper to bumper,” Jane said, noting that many of the industrial businesses in the area closed. The more recent recession took out home improvement and other construction related customers, and other regulars came less often or ordered less.
. . . . . . They noticed what retailing expert David Brennan said happened everywhere, “Many customers traded down by going to less expensive restaurants; some cut down on the amount purchased by buying a less expensive meal, eliminating a beverage; others went out less frequently or stopped going out.”
. . . . . . The Eisenschenks look forward to what should come from the Van White off ramp and eventual redevelopment of the Bassett Creek Valley.
- - - - - - - - - - - ( NorthNews, by Margo Ashmore, Nov. 2, 2012 )