The Galaxy Drive In, that showy summer showplace overlooking Hwy. 7 in St. Louis Park, is back in business.
There’s a slightly new name — it’s now Clays Galaxy Drive In (3712 Quebec Av. S., St. Louis Park, claysgalaxy.com), a reflection of its new operator. He’s Mark Saliterman, owner of Clays Restaurant (8900 Walnut St., Rockford, claysmn.com).
“Every day I would drive by and I grew tired of seeing this place closed,” said Saliterman. “We thought it would be fun to run a drive-in. Some things are just meant to be.”
Diners with long memories will recall when the site was the longtime home of Wagner’s Drive-In (the family still operates Wagner’s Drive-In in Brooklyn Park).
Restaurateur Steve Schussler (he of Rainforest Cafe fame) bought the property in 2011 — it sits across Hwy. 7 from his office — and remade the low-key setup (which dates to the early 1950s) as the gaudy, colorful, carnival-like Galaxy. The place went dark after the 2015 season.
“I still own it. I’m the landlord,” said Schussler. “Mark is the right guy. He owns a restaurant, so he knows food. In these tough times, we need some levity, and he’s going to be putting some smiles on faces.”
Clays executive chef James Awe is responsible for the Galaxy’s menu, which focuses on burgers (nine varieties, plus a plant-based option instead of beef or chicken); an array of well-dressed hot dogs, Italian sausages and pork-veal bratwurst; a half-dozen sandwiches, including a Reuben, a Philly steak and a BLT; and a handful of appetizers, including cheese curds, deep-fried pickles and boneless chicken wings. Look for soft-serve ice cream sundaes, cones, floats, shakes and malts (and free doggy ice-cream cones), and a kid’s menu that includes corn dogs, chicken tenders, cheeseburgers and grilled cheese sandwiches. Top price is $10.95.
Drive-ins are proving to be popular with Minnesotans during the coronavirus pandemic.
“In my opinion, they’re the safest places to eat, other than in your own home, or the middle of Lake Minnetonka,” said Saliterman. “You’re either in your car, or you’re outdoors at a table — we’ve got about 10 tables — and so you won’t be breathing anyone else’s air.”
The plan had been to open in May, but Saliterman had to rebuild the postage stamp-sized kitchen. Service starts today (Monday).
“We don’t have time for a soft opening,” said Saliterman. “It’s summertime, and we’ve got to get going.”
To start out, hours will be 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
“It’s ’50s and ’60s food, and ’50s and ’60s music,” said Saliterman. “That’s the era when I grew up. We were testing everything yesterday, with my grandchildren, and it was fun to finally play some songs where I knew the lyrics, and they didn’t.”