By Chris Shaffer

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Aldrich, Minnesota, population 48, pretty much marks the halfway point between Staples and Wadena on U.S. Highway 10.

To the average traveler, this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it little town may seem a bit inconsequential — until they learn that Aldrich holds one of the best kept secrets in the area.

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Ted and Gen’s BBQ Steakhouse, with the best buffet in Minnesota!

Local couple Derek and Kim Johnson bought this iconic place two years ago with little knowledge of the restaurant business.

“It became Ted and Gen’s in 1971,” Kim said.

But they were wise enough to recognize the importance of the almost 50-year legacy left by beloved former owners Ted and Gen Ludovissie.

“Don’t fix what isn’t broken, because everything was so good already, we just wanted to keep a good thing going,” Kim said.

The first thing you see when you enter is the huge open-pit barbecue, loaded with sizzling carnivorous delights. Mouthwatering burgers, steaks, incredible hashbrowns, and their specialty – ribs.

Head chef Ace Ludovissie came as part of the package when Derek and Kim purchased the place, along with his 40 years of experience.

“Just carrying on the tradition that Ted and Gen started with and keeping it going,” Ace said.

(credit: CBS)

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And being a part of the Ludovissie cooking legacy is not lost on Ace’s son, Zach.

“It’s just amazing to be third-generation Ludovissie in here,” Zach said.

Together, they are a formidable combination in the kitchen.

“I would put these two guys up against anybody in a hundred-mile radius,” Derek said.

Pretty generous words from a boss who is still trying to pry some of the old family recipes from his cooks.

“Everything’s … like grandma used to cook type of thing,” Derek said. “To get information out of [Ace and Zach] … it just doesn’t work like that.”

“We don’t give [recipes] out, no,” Ace said. “A few people have tried. No, we don’t.”

“Most of them aren’t even written down,” Zach said.”

And so, albeit a bit unconventional, it appears everything’s in place for the next chapter of Ted and Gen’s to be written. And six days a week, the population of Aldrich will perhaps quadruple in size, especially on buffet days.

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And the Ludovissies can look on knowing the restaurant that bears their name, is in very, very good hands.

Chris Shaffer