Real, down-home cooking

IVANHOE – One of the things that makes a town a community is a cafe, a place for people to meet and talk over coffee in the mornings.

The Ivanhoe Corner Cafe, closed for several months, reopened under new management as the Ol’ Cafe on May 1.

“I’m very glad it reopened,” said patron Allan Lundberg. “It gives us a place to meet and eat once in a while,”

Lundberg said he’d been coming to the cafe regularly since he retired 15 years ago.

“We both live alone, and we’ve both been regulars a long time,” said Lundberg’s friend Marlin Toft. “When it’s open, I come for coffee most every morning and for meals when I don’t feel like cooking.”

There is a service station in Ivanhoe with tables that serves coffee and warm food like pizza but no other place in town with cooked meals.

“I do home cooking and my stuff is from scratch,” said new owner Gale Lacek. “Real mashed potatoes, real gravy, they love the real food. And my pies are all from scratch.”

Lacek formerly ran the Midway Cafe in Canby for 10 years and inquired about taking over the location when her husband Kevin found out it was available. The property is owned by the Ivanhoe Economic Development Association and leased to the cafe owners.

According to Ivanhoe EDA board member Shad Lipinski, the previous owners left the property to pursue other interests.

Lacek said she was attracted to Ivanhoe’s homey atmosphere and the friendly people.

“I’d been out looking for a restaurant,” Lacek said. “I have two adopted daughters, both special needs children with fetal alcohol syndrome.”

Lacek’s daughters are doing well. Jessie, 27, is working in the local nursing home and Amy , 17, is preparing to go to college with ambitions of being a writer.

The reopened cafe is a boon to small town residents.

“I employ eight now,” Lacek said, “and we’ll get more. We’ve got people here who need jobs and can’t travel. The oldest one I employ is 72.”

When asked about future plans, Lacek said, “(I will) keep it open for the next 20 years until I retire.”

The Ol’ Cafe is open Tuesday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and closed Mondays.