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Best Of Minnesota: Diner

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Diners are a little hard to come by these days.

There are just a handful of true diners scattered across Minnesota.

WCCO viewers’ favorite has been serving up real food – fast – for more than 70 years.

That’s Mickey’s Dining Car in St. Paul.

“We try to keep it as authentic as possible and I think because it’s a family business, we’ve been able to do that,” said Melissa Mattson, whose grandfather Bert, and partner Mickey Crimmons, opened the diner in 1939.

“Mickey had the money, and my grandpa had the background,” Mattson said. “So, they went into business together, but because Mickey had the money, he got his name on the top.”

Grandpa Bert was in charge of the menu.

“He was a Navy cook in WWII, an immigrant, and a son of a Swedish famer,” Mattson said. “He obviously knew what stick-to-the-ribs fare was.”

Diner classics such as burgers, hash and mulligan stew.

“We still make our pancakes in-house from scratch – our own recipe – the same recipe they started using the day it opened,” Mattson said.

But the food is just half the story because this place has character.

“There’s kind of a little nostalgia to it, you know,” said customer David Kinberman. “I just like the ambiance, and the food, and the people.”

And characters, like Mary, who’s worked at Mickey’s for 40 years.

She’s the type of person who can last at a joint that’s open seven days a week, 365 days a year.

There’s a sense of community at Mickey’s. And that’s a big reason why they’ve been able to stay open all these years.

In true diner fashion, Mickey’s has only 36 seats. But since they’re open 24 hours a day, you will always find a spot at some point.

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