A popular Albertville eating hot spot is open once again thanks to a team of “foodies” assembled by Minneapolis chef George Finn, who is finally bringing his professional life closer to his Big Lake home with Prairie Run Cafe, located in the former Patti J’s location.
“I think working in the city taught me a lot about doing things from scratch. We’re going to focus on that. Nothing that gets out onto a plate comes straight from a can. You have to have some ingredients, so there are some cans back there,” he said with a smile. “But it’s going to be used in making something.”
Prairie Run is focusing, for now, on breakfast and lunch, offering a variety of eggs Benedict flavors (including a wild rice/walleye mixture that is inspired by Minnesota comforts), some knock-out huevos ranchero, steak and eggs (yes, the same steaks they serve at Republic) and a couple of breakfast hash plates.
Lunch features a corned beef Reuben sandwich that’s “house brined,” a classic Cuban sandwich with different varieties of pork, and the old standby – grilled cheese. There are also burgers, quesadillas, burritos and salad choices.
“This is our first restaurant,” Finn said, speaking of his team that includes his wife, Jodi Pedersen and assistant chef Carlos Cardenas. “We’ve been a together at a few of the stops along the way, and now we want to try it on our own. It’s exciting. I’m normally in the back creating, and now I’m out front getting to know the customers. Everyone, so far, has just been great. They’re very supportive and want a new business to succeed.”
A chef throughout the past two decades, Finn has been lead chef at top Twin Cities eateries The Edina Cafe and Republic, both award-winning locations that have earned great reviews for food choices, particularly breakfast.
At his own spot now, the menu will change, Finn said, as the weather gets colder and he and his team gets used to the ins and outs of the business. Ticket times (meaning how long a customer spends sitting, ordering, eating and ultimately paying out) dropped from Prairie Run’s first weekend to last weekend, which was already the cafe’s busiest to date.
“We want to provide a good experience. We were full most of the day Sunday, but we were able to move people in and out on time and no one was rushed. No one had to wait around that long for a table, either. Everyone got seated pretty quickly,” Finn said.
“There wasn’t a ton we had to do, but we did make some upgrades,” Finn said. “We’re going to add a TV and sound system for Sundays so people can hang around and watch the game. The Vikings are always a big draw and you don’t want to miss out while you’re grabbing lunch. We’ll also have wi-fi available for customers who need to work over lunch.”
Prairie Run is open 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, Tuesday through Sunday. Hours may expand in the future, but Finn recognizes there are ample places for dinner and he needs Mondays to “make sure all our bills are paid and books are right on. That’s a huge key to staying in business, and we want to be here a while.”