A familiar – and beloved – a.m. presence on St. Paul’s University Avenue is about to disappear.
Bonnie’s Cafe, founded by Juanita “Bonnie” Roell in June 1978, is closing its doors on April 25.
“For the last 38 years, Bonnie’s Cafe has thrived on the support of our dedicated customers,” reads a statement left on many of the restaurant's green-and-white checkered tablecloth-covered tables. “The cafe survived two robberies, the light rail construction that caused other business in the area to close, and the death of our beloved Bonnie, who said, ‘No one leaves hungry.’”
Roell (pictured, above, from a poster in the restaurant) died in 2013. The restaurant is owned by her daughter, Becky Moosbrugger.
According to the statement, the building’s landlord is not renewing the cafe's lease, and is planning to turn over the space to the adjacent Dubliner Pub.
It's a loss. Compared with the Twin Cities' increasingly slick dining-out scene, cozy, no-nonsense Bonnie’s is a happy throwback, the kind of welcoming environment where a cheerfully tinkling bell greets customers as they walk through the front door, where green vinyl-covered stools flank a counter topped with gold-flecked white linoleum, where the well-worn wooden booths let out a creaky sigh when diners slip into them, where a chalkboard behind the counter enthusiastically extols the virtues of a frosted almond bear claw, and where the menu consists of a series of hand-painted signs covering the walls.
The heaping-helping fare pretty much defines short-order cooking. There’s the Hungry Man (an 8-oz. hamburger steak, two eggs and hash browns, for $10.99), the Bonnie’s Big Eater (two eggs, two slices of bacon, two sausages, a slice of ham, hash browns and toast, for $9.99) and the 2x2x2 (two slices of French toast, two sausages, hash browns and two eggs, any style, for $8.99), which is pictured above, in all its hot-off-the-griddle glory.
Here’s a true gauge of the neighborliness level: Bonnie's is a credit card-free zone, but there’s an ATM on the premises, and Moosbrugger will accept a personal check.
More dates to note: The restaurant’s memorabilia ("You know you've always wanted a salt and pepper set from Bonnie's," reads the handout), along with some of its fixture, will be put up for sale on April 26 and 27.
The restaurant is open 5:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Drop in and say goodbye.