Taste the Tradition: Charlie’s Cafe, the oldest restaurant in Minot

Local News

This week’s Taste the Tradition is at the oldest restaurant in Minot.

The building that is the home of Charlie’s Cafe has been around since the 1940s.

According to current owner Tiffany Craig, the restaurant has had different names over the years.

It has been known as the Americana restaurant and was the Victory Café during World War II.

It became Charlie’s Cafe in 1957 when popular chef Charlie DeMakis bought the restaurant.

Craig and her family bought the building that is home to the restaurant and 11 apartments in 2012.

They became interested in the area after the oil boom in North Dakota.

Even with different owners, the menu at Charlie’s has not changed very much.

Charlie’s is known for its hot beef and was voted the best hot beef in North Dakota by USA Today.

Craig says they like to honor the original dishes but add their own unique spin.

“So for example the hot beef traditionally comes with mashed potatoes but we’ve been offering with like waffle fries or french fries,” said Craig. “And we added like swiss cheese, onions, mushroom and call it like the ultimate hot beef. We heard suggestions from customers and we tried it out and everybody loved it.”

While the food largely remains the same, the interior of the restaurant looks completely different.

Craig and her family added new booths, bar stools and a new floor.

The walls are decorated with photos that Craig and her uncle printed, framed and hung on the walls.

“I wanted to create like a museum atmosphere because it does have such a history to it,” said Craig. “Just keeping that alive, celebrating that. I actually met a couple of customers who says like one of them is their grandpa and stuff which is really cool.”

Another update that might surprise many people is the pigs.

Craig says pigs are her favorite animal.

“My mom actually used to own a barbeque place back in Korea,” said Craig. “So she had pig statues. I had pig statues too and my regulars picked up on it so they started giving me pigs as like a gift. So every pig has a story and every pig has a memory of the person who gave it to me.”

While Craig says that every pig gift creates a memory, one of her favorite memories is from 2016 when there was road construction outside of the restaurant.

“I brought food out to the construction workers,” said Craig. “I took To-Gos from them, I physically went outside cause I noticed they don’t have a lot of break time. So I made it very streamline for them and easy for them and the construction guys picked up on that and they started doing huge orders from me. And they became regulars and they come like every season now and I know them.”

Craig isn’t the only one with happy memories at Charlie’s.

Tracy Emrich and Sharon Gail Emrich have been coming to Charlie’s Cafe since 2003.

Sharon’s favorite memory is bringing her in-laws to dine at Charlie’s.

“Just seeing the looks on their faces when they saw the portions that were served,” said Sharon Gail. “They’re from Arizona and they’re not used to the farm-sized portions so they were quite shocked. It was fun.”

Tracy’s favorite memory is making masks for the staff last Christmas.

“There’s actually a picture on the wall that’s all of us wearing the Christmas masks,” said Tracy. “It’s just a, this is our other family.”

Craig loves hearing about other people’s memories from before and after her family took over.

“I get to keep the tradition and keep it going,” said Craig. “And I like to put a new twist to it too. And it keeps the memories alive but making new memories as well.”

Charlie’s Cafe is open daily for you and your family to create memories of your own: Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays.

Charlie’s offers food for dining in and to go.

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