Minneapolis couple won Sherburn cafe in essay contest

  • Article by: LYDIA COUTRE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 15, 2013 - 7:22 AM

A Minneapolis couple dreaming of their own place and a slower pace won an eatery in an essay contest.

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Seth and Elizabeth Lintelman thought their longtime dream of owning a restaurant in southern Minnesota had slipped away with their home when they lost it in the bad economy last year.

But now, just a few months later, the Minneapolis couple can call the Cup N’ Saucer in Sherburn their own, thanks to a businessman and a three-page essay.

Their delight at having their own restaurant mirrors the town’s joy of having their beloved town cafe open again.

The happy connection came about when Gene Scheppmann, 77, who grew up in the area, heard the cafe had closed its doors early last year. He decided to help. He and his wife, who now live in Las Vegas, spent six months cleaning and repairing the cafe with the intention of giving it away. He partnered with Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato to come up with a way to do just that.

The solution: an essay contest.

“We lost our home in November and then in March we saw this article about how you can enter an essay contest to win a restaurant, and we’re like, ‘Oh all right. What do we have to lose?’ ” Elizabeth said.

After an interview process, the Lintelmans won in early May. They sold what they could, packed the rest and moved in with Seth’s parents in Fairmont, about 15 miles east of Sherburn.

The cafe officially became theirs June 1.

‘We need a place like this’

The Cup N’ Saucer, started in 1953 by Pat Hansen, was a staple in Sherburn, a town of about 1,100 on Interstate 90 in southern Minnesota.

“There were several cafes in town, but this was the place,” said Carron Klukow, 74, who remembers coming to the Cup N’ Saucer after ballgames when she was in high school in the ’50s.

For years, Hansen catered the residents’ weddings, parties and events. She cooked a free meal for families after a loved one had died.

And every day at 7 a.m., a group of men sat around a table in the cafe to discuss the latest gossip and news, said Swede Theobald, a daily patron for almost as long as the restaurant has been open. The cafe’s original counter is now in his garage as a workbench.

“We need a place like this in town,” Theobald said.

But in January 2011, the Cup N’ Saucer closed.

“It was hard because for one thing, the morning crowd didn’t have any place to go,” said Swede’s wife, Mickey.

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  • Seth and Elizabeth Lintelman wanted to own a restaurant and raise their daughter in a close-knit community. “We saw this article about how you can enter an essay contest to win a restaurant, and we’re like, ‘Oh all right. What do we have to lose?’ ” Elizabeth said. They took over the cafe on Sherburn’s Main Street June 1.

  • Chef Seth Lintelman, right, chatted with Cup N’ Saucer customers Peggy and Dave Custard of St. Paul (facing camera) and Gayla and Jim Miller of Fairmont during the lunch rush Friday.

  • Mickey and Swede Theobold, above, have been regulars at the Cup N’ Saucer in Sherburn, Minn., for years and are glad to see it back. Seth and Elizabeth Lintelman won ownership of the cafe through a national essay-writing contest.

  • A trophy case at the Cup N’ Saucer holds a point of pride for the Sherburn community, the first-place state trophy won by the boys high school basketball team in 1970.

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