Beloved burger and malt shop celebrates a milestone anniversary.
Anniversaries are milestones, but when there’s a 40 preceding it, that anniversary can be a legacy, especially when it’s for a family-run restaurant with a reputation for serving some of the best burgers and malts in the area.
Snuffy’s Malt Shop turns 40 years old this month, but the celebration has and is going on all year long with monthly specials and retro pricing, according to Dana Bach, one of three co-owners. While inflation makes it a challenge, the retro pricing menu features a few items carrying prices from decades past. “We want to give back to the customers who helped us achieve this milestone,” Bach says, adding that apparel and giveaways are also included in the Snuffy’s celebration.
Mike Mueller acquired the name from Snuffy’s Drive-In in Minnetonka after its doors shut in the 1970s. He started his own chain in September 1983 in St. Paul on the corner of St. Clair and Cleveland avenues. It then expanded into Edina, Roseville, Minnetonka and Bloomington. While the Roseville venue was sold and changed its name and menu and the St. Paul spot closed its doors in 2019, Snuffy’s expanded into CHS Field and Xcel Energy Center in 2015, serving handmade malts at St. Paul Saints and Minnesota Wild home games.
Mueller passed away in 2016, and the restaurants are now run by his wife, Shirley, along with her grandson, Bryan Bach and his wife, Dana Bach.
The anniversary celebration not only includes customers, who have been coming to the restaurant year-after-year, but also a dedicated team of employees.
Vincent Trojan was just 15 years old when he began working for Snuffy’s as a dishwasher. Now, 22 years later, he has worked at every location and has advanced through the company to currently serve as the general manager. “I love working here because of the impact Snuffy’s has on the communities that our stores are in,” Trojan says. “There are not a lot of family-style restaurants around anymore, and I understand the importance and impact we have in each community we are in.”
Trojan says there is great pride in employing the younger generation. “We teach them work ethics, how to be reliable and how to work with others,” he says. “I learned so much about these qualities, and I’ve made sure to keep the tradition going. I think teaching our young people these good habits are of the utmost importance … I get a lot of personal satisfaction in being a mentor for them, and when kids come back after years of being away, I love to see what kind of young men and women they grow into. I love coming to work because of the wonderful atmosphere we have here.”
With so many dining options around, Bach says she believes what sets Snuffy’s apart is its staple menu, featuring comfort food. “When you order a burger and malts, usually the malts come out first,” she says. “Kids especially love it. And when the kids love it, the parents love it, and they keep coming back year-after-year. It really is something so simple as that. It’s good food, it’s quick and where else do you get the dessert first?”
That menu full of American comfort food has also stayed consistent throughout its four decades of operation. While the number of burgers and sandwich options has expanded, many of the fan favorites in 1983 are the same favorites in 2023. “We also have our famous chili and famous chicken noodle soup,” Bach says. “Mike Mueller made it all on his own.” And, of course, the list of malt options has grown, too. With more than 20 malt flavors, people can also mix-and-match. “We’re so grateful for every customer, and we couldn’t have reached this milestone without them,” she says.
What’ll You Have?
In case you need inspiration for your Snuffy’s order, here are some diners’ favorites.
What else can we say?
Pepper Jack cheese, jalapeño bacon and chipotle mayo
A double cheeseburger in honor of Mike Mueller
The Snuffy’s Lindy
An egg salad sandwich with bacon, lettuce and tomato