Dinkytown, meet breakfast

Ten restaurants and bars now offer breakfast menus.

stbreakfast

stbreakfast

Tara Bannow

It happened every weekend. Burrito Loco would be packed until 3 a.m., but later in the morning, you could hear a pin drop. It became more than owner Greg Pillsbury could stand. So, a couple of weeks ago, he started serving breakfast. âÄúThereâÄôs all these people tugging on the door and walking around Saturday and Sunday mornings; why are we still closed until 11?âÄù he said. âÄúYouâÄôre paying for all of your rent and everything already.âÄù HeâÄôs not alone. Ten Dinkytown restaurants and bars now serve breakfast âÄî a trend restaurateurs attribute to competition, a desire to capitalize on the football crowd and, frankly, the fact that itâÄôs a good way to make money. âÄúYou go anywhere in the city on a Saturday or a Sunday âÄî Uptown, south Minneapolis, wherever âÄî and every place has a line,âÄù Pillsbury said. âÄúIn Dinkytown, most places donâÄôt, because everybody just started doing it.âÄù For some owners, the lines outside AlâÄôs Breakfast inspired their breakfast menus. Tony Nicklow, owner of TonyâÄôs Diner, said seeing people waiting for half an hour outside AlâÄôs pushed him to try his luck with the breakfast crowd. âÄúPeople love breakfast; itâÄôs almost cultural,âÄù he said. âÄúYou get a cup of coffee and a nice, warm breakfast.âÄù The same is true for Qdoba Mexican Grill, which became one of the few franchise locations in the country to serve breakfast about a month ago, manager Kyle Pouliot said. When deciding to expand the menu, the owners saw AlâÄôs as an indicator of demand for breakfast in the area, he said. So far, most of QdobaâÄôs breakfast purchases have occurred late at night rather than in the mornings, he said, although he added, âÄúEvery week we get more traffic in the mornings.âÄù AlâÄôs Breakfast, the longtime front-runner in Dinkytown breakfast, will turn 60 in May, co-owner Doug Grina said. Grina said he wasnâÄôt aware of the other breakfast menus in the area and said theyâÄôre âÄúapparently notâÄù competition. âÄúIf they can survive, good luck to them,âÄù he said. Over time, Nicklow said breakfast business has improved at TonyâÄôs âÄî a phenomenon he attributes to the 50,000 people on campus for football games. Breakfast is a less expensive meal to prepare than others, because eggs and hashbrowns are cheaper and faster to cook than chicken and beef, he said. After years of having nothing to recommend to priests who asked for post-Sunday morning service breakfast ideas, Skott Johnson, president of the Dinkytown Business Association, said heâÄôs now telling people to come to Dinkytown for breakfast. âÄúBreakfast was an untouched market in Dinkytown,âÄù he said. Johnson attributes the outcrop of breakfast offerings to the economy. At a time when people are spending less on eating out and entertainment, restaurant owners are thinking of ways to expand their market, he said. TonyâÄôs Diner and Loring Pasta Bar offer Sunday brunch buffets. The brunch tradition carried over from the LoringâÄôs former location in Loring Park a few years ago and has been successful in attracting students, Charisse Meriam, senior manager of Loring Pasta Bar, said. Now itâÄôs just a matter of making people aware that they can get breakfast in Dinkytown, Pillsbury said. âÄúIf you want a hundred people to come through your place on a given day, you need like 10,000 people to know about it,âÄù he said. Mike Mulrooney, owner of Blarney Pub & Grill, said Blarney has been serving breakfast since it opened in 2004. ItâÄôs never a bad thing to have more restaurants serving breakfast, he said. âÄúI donâÄôt look at it as competition,âÄù he said, âÄúand I hope that they donâÄôt look at it as competition either.âÄù Other restaurants that serve breakfast include The Purple Onion Cafe, The Library Bar & Grill, McDonaldâÄôs and BrueggerâÄôs. The hours that breakfasts are served in Dinkytown cater to students, who donâÄôt tend to be the earliest risers on weekends, Johnson said with a chuckle. âÄúItâÄôs funny,âÄù he said. âÄúThey accommodate the people who get up at the crack of noon.âÄù