MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — If you’re just passing by, you might take Hazel’s Northeast for another one of those trendy “fern bars” that seem to be popping up all over the neighborhood.
Visit them on a Sunday morning, however, and it won’t take long for you to trade your skepticism in for a delicious plate of eggs Benedict, or their decadent “Drunken Banana French Toast.”
“Family” is a word that carries quite a bit of weight with owners Adam and Andrew Sieve.
“It’s kind of like throwing a party every day,” Adam said.
Yes, they’re brothers, but they’re also part of a 60-year food service legacy that began with a woman nicknamed Hazel.
“Her actual name was Helen Sieve, and she was the first person in our family to get us into restaurants, she was a great cook,” Adam said.
Helen’s prowess as a piemaker in the 1950s led to a push for her and her husband, Ben, to start a restaurant in the Alexandria area. That is where two of their sons, Jon and Kurt — Adam and Andrew’s father — learned to handle a spatula.
“My first memories of working with him were, you know, Sunday after we got really slammed from the church rush,” Andrew said. “He’s washing dishes in the sink to catch up at the end of the afternoon, and I think Adam and I have kind of adopted the role of pitching, helping out.”
That restaurant grew in size and popularity, and several spin-off cafes were opened — and the Sieve family restaurant dynasty had begun.
“We’re now third generation, so we’re just trying to continue in her honor,” Andrew said.
Yet with the young entrepreneurs’ road to the future clearly mapped out in front of them, they both decided to take a detour for a little seasoning.
“We both had different careers in our 20s, and I think we probably swore off restaurants at a certain point,” Adam said.
“I had this crazy idea that maybe going back to what we knew growing up might be a good idea,” Andrew said.
Now back on track, the restaurant has become part of the fabric of this northeast Minneapolis neighborhood.
“DIY and make it yourself, and we hang our own paintings on the walls of the local artists, it all adds to the charm and the feel of what we have going on here,” Andrew said.
From black bean cakes, to quiche, to some of the best chicken-fried steak you’ve ever had, Hazel’s serves great comfort food — just like grandma used to make.
“If our family has served this food and it’s gone over pretty well for a lot of years, if we do the same types of food and just refine it a bit, we’re gonna be OK,” Andrew said.
And if happiness equals success, it looks like these guys have hit their mark.
“Pretty much a dream come true,” Adam said.
But they’re not resting on their laurels.
“Sometimes the lights flicker around here when the bacon isn’t crispy enough and the eggs aren’t quite over medium, and I think that means Grandma’s watching,” Adam said.
Hazel’s Northeast serves up brunch every Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.