Going to the website for Sandy’s Tavern, the Richfield burger bar that’s anchored Penn Ave & 66th St. for over 80 years, is like going back in time to the early days of the internet. There are animated gifs, clip art, and a trail of words that follows your mouse as it moves across the page, saying “Try our olive burger.”
Although the bar has a new owner and manager (Debra and Jeff Erickson sold it earlier this year), little else is changing at the south suburban mainstay, which reopens today (Nov. 21) in time for lunch, at 11 a.m. Almost all of the staff is returning. The burger recipe isn’t being modified. Even that retro website will remain as it is.
Restaurateur Matty O’Reilly, who owns St. Paul’s Bar Brigade and Foxtrot Burger Spot, and Republic at Seven Corners in Minneapolis and at MSP Airport, has taken over management of Sandy’s Tavern. The place closed in September to make some small cosmetic fixes, like the removal of cheap plastic curtains, old vinyl beer posters, and a pool table that was crowding the dining room. The biggest difference: Sandy’s Tavern will now take credit cards.
“The space itself is really untouched by time,” said Rick Oknick, director of operations for O’Reilly’s restaurant group. “It’s like straight out of a time capsule from 1987.”
A regular himself, that’s just how Oknick wants it to be. He’s been eating there for years. His wife even claims the high score on the tavern’s Ms. Pac-Man machine.
“I’m very excited to be there, because I have memories the same as everybody else in that neighborhood,” he said. “We have to be good stewards to those memories and the place this holds in a lot of people’s hearts.”
Sandy’s Tavern, 6612 Penn Av. S., Richfield, 612-869-9945