Friday, May 1, 2009

Whistle Stop Cafe - Neighborhood Eatery on the Blueberry Walleye Trail

Sometime this summer, the granddaughter of Vince Groth will take over the Whistle Stop Café. Jill Groth started working there when she was eight, by helping carry dishes back to the kitchen.

Quite a bit has happened since Vince Groth opened the Whistle Stop, back in the fifties. The passenger station downtown closed when the Mississippi-Leech Lake Line merged with the Atlantic, Chicago, and Northwest Empire railroad. The station near the Whistle Stop Café was converted into a warehouse a few years later.

The only trace of the railroads today is the Blueberry Walleye Trail, named after Minnesota's state muffin and fish, respectively. The BWT snowmobile, hiking, and bicycle trail opened in 1998, after the rails were replaced with a ten-foot-wide bituminous path.

"We were doing fine, before that trail opened," recalled Elmer "Bud" Groth, "but I'm glad to see new people stop in." The Whistle Stop set up a bike rack and offers sack lunches now, besides the regular menu.

There were changes in the kitchen, too.

"Back when I was growing up, the Whistle Stop had 'Mother's Home Cooking.' Pretty good, too: but now, 'Mother's home, cooking.' I found a food service with the quality we needed, so we get everything in fresh, each day, and do the final cooking and preparation here. It's worked out pretty well."

The pies, though, are made by the Groth family: strictly according to state regulations for food preparation. Even so, they taste as good as they did, back when, Bud says.

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