Alumni Outlook Magazine


TWO WELL-KNOWN TWIN CITIES RESTAURANTS REMAIN ALL IN THE FAMILY

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Tim Murray ’83 took over as general manager in 1984 at Murray’s restaurant in downtown Minneapolis, a year after he graduated from UW-Stout. The family-owned restaurant opened in 1946.
One is a 24-hour-a-day diner that hasn’t shut its doors for 71 years. The other has been considered among the city’s finest steakhouses for 64 years. Mickey’s Dining Car in downtown St. Paul and Murray’s Restaurant in downtown Minneapolis are two of the best-known places to eat in the Twin Cities. The futures of the third-generation family eateries are in the hands of UW-Stout graduates.
 
Mickey’s is managed by siblings Gunnar “Bert” Mattson ’97 and Melissa Mattson ’01, who both studied restaurant management. They are the grandchildren of Bert Mattson, who founded the restaurant in 1939 with Mickey Crimmons. Gunnar and Melissa took over the operation in about 2001 from their parents.
 
Mickey’s, 36 W. Ninth St.,  is a café designed to look like a railroad car. It was built in New Jersey in 1937 and shipped to St. Paul, where it has operated nonstop since 1939. The art deco building, with neon exterior lighting, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.
 
Mickey’s has been in several Hollywood films, including “A Prairie Home Companion,” “The Mighty Ducks,” and “Jingle All the Way.” A long list of celebrities who have eaten there includes Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rosanne Barr, Julio Iglesias, Bill Murray, Garrison Keillor, Woody Harrelson, Meryl Streep and the Beach Boys.
 
The 37-seat diner is known for its homemade, economical meals, including chili, stew and bean soup made from recipes that date to the 1930s.
 
“It’s kind of crazy when you think about it – people walking through the doors nonstop for 70 years. There’s such a variety of people. They’re like family,” Melissa Mattson said. The same goes for the employees. “They don’t work for us; they work with us.”
 
Murray’s, 26 S. Sixth St., is run by General Manager and President Tim Murray ’83 and two of his siblings, Jill and James. Their father remains involved in some aspects of operations. His parents, Art and Marie Murray, founded the restaurant on the same site in 1946.
 
The family “takes pride in being one of the few remaining independent, family-owned Minneapolis restaurants,” said Tim Murray, who studied restaurant management at UW-Stout and took over as Murray’s GM in 1984.
 
Murray’s is known for its aged beef and 28-ounce Silver Butter Knife Steak for two, as well as for its in-house bakery and fine wines. The restaurant has won numerous awards.
 
Starting in spring 2010, Murray’s will be carrying a steak sandwich at Target Field, the Minnesota Twins new downtown ballpark, along with a piece of their famous garlic toast, for $10.50. “This is a tremendous opportunity for us,” Tim Murray said. “It gives us a chance to partner with one of the great sports franchises in the Twin Cities area and should introduce a lot of new people to the Murray’s experience in steak excellence.”
 
For more information, go to www.mickeysdiningcar.com or www.murraysrestaurant.com.
 
 
Melissa Mattson ’01 and her brother, Gunnar “Bert” Mattson ’97, who both studied restaurant management at UW-Stout, own and operate the iconic Mickey’s Dining Car in downtown St. Paul.