BY JO YOUNGREN
On Sundays we come from a church where “All are welcome wherever you are on your journey.” Going from there to Curran’s Restaurant on 42nd and Nicollet for breakfast we get the same sort of welcome. In a way, they both feel a lot like coming home.
For one thing, Curran’s has been on the same corner block just across from Martin Luther King Park for 71 years.
There appear to be no strangers at this place. There is a constant hum of jovial talk, like when those leaving the restaurant inform those coming in that they just ran out of food. Or, to start conversation, “Is there a chance that this could really be spring?”
This same sense of camaraderie spills over among the waitpersons and their customers, many who seem to know one another well.
Those who frequent this place include different colors and races, Spanish speakers, blue collar workers, legislators, lawyers, musicians, doctors and young persons with boots and multiple tattoos.
Tucked in on the walls amid the ubiquitous depictions of the Old Sod is original art for sale, which comes from the ranks of the Minnesota Art Association, a local group who have breakfast at Curran’s every Wednesday. On Mother’s Day there are pink roses for any woman who wants one. Corned beef and cabbage is served on St. Patrick’s Day.
Mike Curran started this restaurant as a drive-in back in 1948.
Dennis Curran, his middle son, went into business with his dad in 1977.
When asked, Dennis says the best thing he learned from his dad about life and running a business was to be humble, honest and fair.
Part of living up to this legacy is reflected in the quality of food served there. A local farm in East St. Paul supplies fresh vegetables in season and eggs, along with Canadian bacon. A little butcher shop sells them natural beef and pork with no hormones. Curran’s beef, pork, turkey and corned beef are cooked and sliced there daily. You can find fresh squeezed orange juice here too. Dennis says they go through 70,000 oranges every year. Their homemade caramel rolls are irresistible.
But hamburgers and fries are what started with Mike Curran, so these are always on the menu. Comfort food, Dennis calls this.
Dennis says what he can’t stress enough is the help he has managed to find through the years. Every year or two, they revise the menu, with suggestions from everyone who works there, because, says Dennis, “They are on the front lines and see a lot that I don’t.” The most indispensable employee, however, is his wife, Lori, of 39 years. She is the bookkeeper and has been his most important advisor.
Dennis feels like part of his mission is to support local enterprises with donations to local youth teams, bowling teams, local churches, educational programs and other needy organizations. Whether by chance or fate, Curran’s and Martin Luther King Park have been good neighbors for many years. Everyone who knows them hopes this happy partnership will continue for many more.