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Best Of Minnesota: Juicy Lucys

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(credit: CBS) Matt Brickman
Matt Brickman is the co-host of WCCO-TV Saturday Morni...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – One bar comes to mind for most WCCO viewers when they hear the term “Juicy Lucy,” and that place is Matt’s Bar in south Minneapolis.

Scott Nelson owns Matt’s, and he says they crank out a mind-boggling number of cheese-filled burgers – which they call “Jucy Lucys” – on a daily basis.

“On an average day, we’ll probably go through 400 Jucys, and on a real busy day we’ll go through 800 Jucys,” Nelson said.

That’s a huge number when you see the tiny grill responsible for their brand of burger bliss. Cook Tony Stanton says the equipment at Matt’s has something to do with the unique taste of their Lucys.

“I think a lot of it is from the grill, because you can try to replicate it at home and it’s just not the same,” Stanton said.

The grill – just like the vinyl wallpaper, wooden duck decorations and Matt’s in general – is a throwback. And Scott Nelson likes it that way.

“One of the things I did when I bought the place…I had customers telling me immediately ‘Don’t change the place,’” Nelson said.

That lack of change is one of the reasons Matt’s has been able to survive for 60 years – that and their signature sandwich.

“I think that without the advent of the Jucy Lucy and how it’s developed over the years as kind of a ‘Minnesota’s Philly Cheesesteak’ as we’d say, I don’t think we’d be in the same spot,” he said.

Today the Jucy Lucy accounts for about 85 percent of the bar’s sales. And Matt’s has some of their earliest customers to thank.

“I think this kind of sprung out of simply the customers wanting to try something different. Putting a piece of cheese inside two patties, call me crazy, but it worked,” he said.

The name came from a customer who bit into the burger and had molten cheese shoot everywhere. He exclaimed, “That’s one Jucy Lucy!”

And the spelling of “Jucy Lucy” is due to a printing error on Matt’s menus. They kept the ‘I’s out because they thought it was unique.

After just one bite of a Matt’s Jucy Lucy, it’s easy to see why their burger is still the best after all these years.

“We pride ourselves on pretty much, in this world of change – constant change – of just being comfortably the same,” Nelson said.

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