MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Band Box Diner has been at the fork in the road between 14th and 10th Streets in downtown Minneapolis since 1939. Its current owner, Brad Ptchek left the life of an haute cuisine chef 13 years ago to work the griddle at the historic little eatery and never looked back.
Ptchek prides himself on knowing every aspect of his cozy business’ history.
“The Weisman that started this is also a part of the Weisman Gallery and the Weisman building,” he said.
But he wasn’t always cracking eggs, pouring coffee and hanging out with customers.
“I was a chef downtown at a place called Cafe Solo, the first guys with weird presentations and squirt bottles,” Ptchek said with big smile on his face. “It kind of seemed like more fun.”
A Band Box is a little box that men used to keep their collars and cuffs in when they took their shirts in to be cleaned back in the 30s and 40s.
“They tried to come up with a name that would say that this place was clean and special and small,” Ptchek said.
So, Band Box Diner was born. The franchise grew to 14 stores and went head to head with the White Castle.
“White Castle had a sack of three burgers and we had three for a dime all the time,” Ptchek said.
The 14 stores were eventually bought by individual owners. Slowly, all but one went out of business.
Ptchek and his girlfriend Heather, who works the register, waits tables and handles the take-out, plan to keep The Band Box just the way it is, a comfortable neighborhood joint that serves classic Americana.
The Band Box Diner is located at 729 S. 10th St. in Minneapolis. For take-out call (612) 332-0850.