Happy Chef reinvented at A-Z Restaurant Equipment. Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo May 2021.
OH, THE YEASTY SCENT of bread, of a warm mini loaf dripping with powdered sugar icing. Such are my memories of college day visits to the Happy Chef restaurant in Mankato.
Back in 1974 through 1976, I would walk with friends from the Bethany Lutheran College campus to the hometown restaurant along US Highway 14. There we would talk and laugh and savor a treat that was more sweet rolls than bread loaf.
I don’t recall the cost of our indulgence. But, as a poor college student, the price had to be affordable.
Details elude me decades later. Yet I recall the deliciousness of that bread and the iconic Happy Chef statue that stood outside the restaurant. He sported a white chef’s hat and attire and waved a wooden spoon.
Today, only one Happy Chef restaurant remains, this one along US Highway 169 near the interchange with US Highway 14 in Mankato. It was the first Happy Chef to open in a family restaurant business founded in 1963 by the Frederick brothers—Sal, Bob, Bill and Tom. The Happy Chef statue still stands there. And now the owners of that restaurant are soliciting some G-rated one-liners to add to their Chef’s voice. Yes, he “talks.” Click here to submit suggestions via Facebook.
A Happy Chef statue also poses along US Highway 169 north of Princeton at A-Z Restaurant Equipment Company. That repurposed roadside art, spotted on a mid-May drive north to a central Minnesota lake cabin, prompted my college day memories of sharing warm mini bread loaves with friends at Happy Chef. Oh, such happy moments…
© Copyright 2021 Audrey Kletscher Helbling
Charming story….cute 2018 article in the Mankato paper. I hope they change their mind about heritage recognition. America’s next generation needs this so much! Also thankful that Bethany college is alive and well, as is the ELS synod. Thanks! Strange where google leads us. https://www.twincities.com/2018/08/24/mankatos-happy-chef-declines-city-landmark-status-but-may-speak-again/
I agree. We need to preserve these “icons” of the past. And, yes, Bethany College is thriving. I loved it there and thrived in the small Christian environment.
Love seeing Happy Chef and can smell that yeasty bread.
Thank you. Lots of memories for me here.