MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Long before anyone called Nicollet Avenue near Downtown Minneapolis Eat Street, there was a young German immigrant with a dream.

Erich Christ was just a kid. This Friday his restaurant turns 50.

If Central Casting needed a German Restaurant owner, Erich Christ would be the guy. His Black Forest Inn has stood like a fortress at 26th Street and Nicollet Avenue for a half century.

“We have kids who came here yay high, getting married, said their first date is here. Now their grandkids are coming,” Christ said.

The restaurant specializes in sausages and sauerkraut, schnitzel and sauerbraten. And family is everywhere. Christ’s daughter Erica has worked in the kitchen since she was 16. His wife Joanne guides business strategy.

The eatery had the first beer garden in the City of Minneapolis, which will be home to their 50th anniversary party.

For 28 of Black Forest’s 50 years, Tammy Wong’s Rainbow Chinese has been a neighbor. She made a slaw for a special 50th anniversary sandwich. Danny Klecko from St. Agnes Baking Company made the pretzel roll.

The party goes all weekend. On Friday, there’s live music from 6 until 10 p.m. On Saturday, there’s a parade through the neighborhood. Sunday is family day, with movies and games for kids all day.

Jason DeRusha