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After More Than A Century, Southern Minnesota Restaurant Still Slinging 'Dam' Good Burgers, Pies

Originally published June 1

BLUE EARTH CO., Minn. (WCCO) -- There's a restaurant in southern Minnesota that's been around for more than 100 years. And it's pretty "dam" good, thanks in large part to the dam that sits next to it.

"My sister lives two miles away from here and you can hear the roar of the dam from there," David Hruska said.

For more than a century, people have been drawn to the Rapidan Dam because of its sights and sounds.

During that same time, they've also been drawn to the store next door because of its smells and sweets.

David and his sister Jenny Barnes run the Rapidan Dam Store along with their dad, Jim.

"We bought it in '72," Jim Hruska said.

The family is celebrating their 50th year at one of the most Minnesotan restaurants around. Pies, burgers and bait are their specialty, but customers also come for the nostalgia and camaraderie.

"It's kind of a destination," said customer Lois Davis.

David and Jenny themselves grew up helping their parents, working in a restaurant that used to be a house.

"When we bought it in '72 there was no restrooms even on it. They had outhouses out back," David said.

Rapidan Dam Store
(credit: CBS)

But over the years word got around, and they started keeping tabs on where their customers were coming from.

"We have people from Germany, Switzerland, Soviet Union, the Ukraine," said David, while paging through a guest book. "It's kind of like Facebook, you know, before there was Facebook."

While David runs the grill, Jenny bakes the pies. She once baked 750 pies in a month.

"Sometimes I don't get home until 4 in the morning," said Jenny. "The people love it, and I want to keep making the people as happy as I can."

"You have to have one of each by the end of the summer," said Mike Lundgren, customer.

There is concern that the dam could be removed, which would also impact the little store next door. But if that doesn't happen, look for things to keep flowing for another century ... or two.

"A lot of our customers, you know, every time they come in they say, 'Great, you didn't change a thing in this place.' They don't want us to do a thing to it," David said. "It's where I've lived for 42 years, and I plan to stay another 42."

The store is located just a few miles south of Mankato, and it's open from May 1 to November 1.

EMERGENCY COMPONENT - LOCAL

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