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Free meal to warm Embarrass leads to pancake fundraiser

Posted by: Jenna Ross Updated: January 22, 2014 - 6:25 PM

First, a town's cold temps earned its residents a free brunch. Now, it's getting a fundraiser.

News earlier this month that the low in Embarrass, Minn., was expected to hit 38 below inspired the owners of Hell's Kitchen in Minneapolis. "We're inviting the entire town to a FREE Brunch tomorrow in warm and toasty Hell," the restaurant said. Bloody Mary included.

The offer made the news. "The idea kind of shot across the sky like a meteor," said Pat Forciea, the restaurant's vice president.

Embarrass, a town of 600 people, is used to getting attention for its record-cold readings. Its website features the slogan "The Cold Spot" and lists its low temperatures. "We get a lot of calls when the weather gets really cold," said Diane Nelmark, the town clerk. "We're kind of used to that.

"But this was a new one."

In the end, 26 people drove down for the deal -- "less than 10 percent of the population," Forciea said. The restaurant also got "a boatload" of emails from people who couldn't make it. Car wouldn't start. Too cold. One woman suggested that if the restaurant could come to them, she'd offer up her kitchen.

"Game on," the owners of Hell's Kitchen declared. They found a bigger venue, coordinated with Nelmark and this week announced a fundraiser: They'd travel to Embarrass for a pancake feed on Feb. 22. Lemon ricotta flapjacks, to be more specific. The grocery store in Babbitt called, offering to donate the bacon.

Tickets are $7 in advance and $10 at the door. This time, no Embarrass address required. All proceeds will benefit the town's fire department, as well as the regional fair.

The night beforehand, folks are planning to hold a community sauna for the out-of-towners, Forciea said.

"I think our rangers are the nicest and funnest people in the whole country," Forciea said. But, he added, he's from Coleraine, near Grand Rapids, "so there are some natural biases."

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