ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — It’s been two years since a St. Paul institution re-opened after a devastating fire.
An electrical fire in the kitchen burned almost the entire inside of The Nook, but two lifelong friends have brought it back to life.
Best friends Ted Casper and Mike Runyon bought the place when they were both 20. And they almost lost it, 10 years later, just before Christmas.
“I don’t think there’s any school in the world that can teach you how to deal with a tragic loss,” Runyon said.
It was equally hard on Casper.
“You put your blood sweat and tears into a place for, at that point, 10 years,” he said.
Five months later customers were lined up to find pretty much the same place.
“We didn’t want to turn it into the Ritz,” Runyon said. “We try to keep the same motif, same tables. A lot of the pictures, firefighters knew the significance of them.”
The comeback story is great. The food is better.
The Nook gets their buns from St. Agnes Bakery in St. Paul, their beef is their own proprietary blend — delivered fresh four times a week.
The Juicy Nookie is legendary, but the Nook’s fresh-cut French fries are equally delicious.
“We do that extra 10 percent to make our own French fries, and it’s worth its weight in gold,” Runyon said.
They blanch the fries overnight in water and vinegar to take some of the starch out. It makes the fries crisp up without turning dark brown.
Casper and Runyon throw in specials, too.
But The Nook isn’t about what’s new. It’s about what’s been done right, right here, since 1938.