Snuffy’s first opened its doors in the Cleveland Avenue neighborhood of St. Paul in 1983. Since its inception, the '50s drive-in themed malt shop has popped up in three other Minnesota communities, including its Edina location in 2004.
“It's just a perfect neighborhood spot, which is really the reputation of all the Snuffy’s, just tucked into small neighborhoods,” says Dana Bach in marketing. “Families come when they’re young and generation after generation keep coming back.”
Restaurant owner Tony Rimarcik has noticed a similar phenomenon at Convention Grill, another Edina mainstay in the malt and burger business.
“One of the things about being open as long as we have is literally seeing people who came in as children bring their children in,” says Rimarcik.
Snuffy’s style harkens back to an earlier era of American fast food culture and customers love it. But Convention Grill actually opened in the 1930s, and still maintains a classic American diner atmosphere.
“It was started by two guys that had a construction and metal fabrication business,” says Rimarcik. They had aspirations to start a national chain, but things didn’t go according to plan. “The first month they lost a boatload of money,” says Rimarcik, “and the second month, they lost a shipload of money.”
The pair sold the restaurant to Peter Santrizos and his wife Christina, who bought it for 75 dollars at the time. “And they had it for 40 years, until my father John bought it in 1974,” says Rimarcik.
With origins that are opposites in many ways, Snuffy’s and Convention Grill are similar in that both have a family-run ethos that remains to this day. Another similarity is impressively large malt menus at both restaurants!
Not being able to choose just one, customers, as well as some employees, have been building their own tasty combinations that could make up a vast “secret” menu.
“Employees obviously love to test out new combinations,” says Bach. “We basically have a giant list of flavors and customers have a fun time combining them. That’s one of the charms I think, people getting creative.”
The reigning secret menu contenders for Snuffy’s are the summertime favorite strawberry Oreo, and an employee’s key lime pie invention, achieved with lime syrup and graham cracker crumbles.
At Convention Grill, combining chocolate and coffee makes an easy malted mocha. “A lot of people mix mint in,” says Rimarcik. Mint Oreo is a popular one. “Hot fudge strawberry,” he adds. “It can be as varied as the customers themselves.”