by Bob Grawey
When the Atsidakos family opened Cottage Grill in Rogers in February 2008, none of them anticipated the path they would find themselves on now, just three years later.
They will close Cottage Grill Saturday, April 23 at 2 p.m. to extensively renovate the interior of the restaurant. It will re-open a week later as Minne’s Diner.
George Atsidakos explains the reason for the name change.
“Tons of people still think of our restaurant as an Embers,” he says. “Just a month ago, we had a couple who live only a half-mile away, come in to give us a try. They had stayed away for three years because they thought it was still an Embers. Now they’re kicking themselves for not trying us sooner.”
During renovations the entire seating floor plan will be drastically changed, Atsidakos says, to get rid of any vestige of an Embers look. Minne’s Diner will also include new carpet, vivid color schemes and even livelier music added throughout the diner.
Those wanting more privacy, such as business groups or someone having a business meeting, may appreciate glass dividers between booths and larger table areas for meeting space or bigger parties. But a younger crowd is sought as well.
“Right now we have more of an older customer base,” Atsidakos says. “We want to keep those customers, but we also want to provide a fun atmosphere that will make families and younger people want to come in and keep coming back.”
That atmosphere will pivot on the family’s successful Minneapple Pie, a deep-fried apple pie they developed that comes sprinkled with cinnamon and served with either cinnamon or vanilla ice cream.
The pie has been such a huge hit that it was recently included as one of the Minnesota Twins’ “State Fair Classic” menu items this year, and is available at every Twins home game.
“I’d like to see it (the Minneapple Pie) in every baseball stadium,” Atsidakos says. “What’s more American than apple pie?”
The Minneapple Pie has also been the catalyst in getting Atsidakos into 15 county fairs last year. Attempts are being made this year to expand the Minneapple Pie presence to the Minnesota, Wisconsin, Texas and Oklahoma state fairs as well.
Aside from the Minnesota Twins, Atsidakos has been contacted by another major sports team outside the state, wanting the Minneapple Pie at its stadium.
This success behind the Minneapple Pie is another reason for the restaurant’s name change.
Atsidakos says the Minneapple Pie brand did not blend well with an older Cottage Grill image, so the restaurant will be brought in line with the Minneapple Pie branding, which covers everything from color schemes and décor to a wider demographic.
A few new menu items will be added, like fresh cut fries and a deep-fried cheese curd appetizer, but the biggest change for customers is the restaurant’s burger selections.
Minne’s Diner will offer a higher quality meat for its burgers: U.S.D.A. prime beef, which Atsidakos says represents just 2 percent of all U.S. raised beef.
Customers can get a chance to try the new burgers, cheese curds or the Minneapple Pie when the restaurant re-opens as Minne’s Diner April 29 at 6:30 a.m.
The grand re-opening takes place the following day. Anyone purchasing an entrée will receive a free Minneapple Pie with their order.
Minne’s Diner will have different hours than Cottage Grill had, too, opening Monday through Wednesday from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The shortened hours these three days allows the family to make their Minneapple Pies for increasing customer demands.
Thursday hours are 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., while Fridays and Saturdays Minne’s Diner will open from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday hours are seasonal, May through October from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and November through April from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“We never foresaw this happening,” Atsidakos says, “but the response has been so good for our Minneapple Pies. Everyone who tries them loves them. It’s an exciting path. We’ll just see what happens.”