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