Listen From the archives: The recipe for success at Al's Breakfast
Mar 6, 1986
Listen MPR 50th: Al's Breakfast was an institution even in 1986
Throughout 2017, Minnesota Public Radio will celebrate 50 years on the air by sharing highlights from our archives, connecting Minnesota's past to its present. | This story originally aired in 1986.
Al's Breakfast in Dinkytown is a tiny 14-seat restaurant. To many of its patrons, it's also a testament to what breakfast should be.
The diner opened in 1950 in a former alleyway near the University Minnesota campus. In 1986, MPR reporter Dan Olson stopped by to find out how this unassuming establishment had maintained such a loyal clientele over the years.
"It has to be good management, good cook, good humor," said Evie Bergstrom, wife of restaurant founder Al Bergstrom.
Customers were inclined to agree, as the most loyal diners cited the atmosphere as their number one reason for coming again and again — in some cases, maybe too many times.
"Well I wouldn't be driving a '73 Chev if I hadn't eaten here as often as I had," one customer said.
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That kind of dedication paid off at Al's where some customers' names have been immortalized as printed menu items.
The restaurant had new owners in 1986, but Al Bergstrom was still going strong — though the rumor at the time was that he had already reached the ripe old age of 80.
"But you know how rumors go in Dinkytown," Bergstrom said. "Every place around here was a rooming house, and therefore there were lots of roomers." There's that humor Evie mentioned.
Al Bergstrom died in 2003 at the age of 97. The restaurant is still thriving with new owners, who took over last year, having just added late night hours on the weekends.