Eyota's Blue Collar Cafe: 'Every little town has a place like this'

The Blue Collar Cafe in Eyota is just like any small town cafe but has its own flavor of consistency with new ownership that took over in fall 2021.

Earl Drenckhahm, center-left, Dick Retterath, center-back, and Sy Whalen, right, with their morning breakfast group set up a roll of the dice on Wednesday, January 25, 2023, in Eyota.
Theodore Tollefson / Post Bulletin

EYOTA — The restaurant industry has been a part of Andrew Peterson’s entire life. He’s done everything from cooking to serving along with a bartending and even a bouncer gig at Legends Bar & Grill while it was open.

Now Peterson has checked the box of "ownership" when he purchased the Country Cafe in November 2021 and renamed it the Blue Collar Cafe.

“I'm a welder and most of the people who are the demographic of the restaurant have traditional blue collar jobs," Peterson said of the name change. "A lot are currently, or are retired, farmers and just many are hardworking people. That's the blue collar mentality.”

While the name has changed, much feels familiar to long-time customers of the restaurant under its previous name and ownership. The employees who were there before the ownership change are still there today, and manager Amanda Pitzer appreciates the consistency that has stayed in place at the Blue Collar.

“Andrew treats us very well, it was a smooth transition when he came in, nothing changed," Pitzer said. "He's a good man. It's so easy and it's so laid back. We have the same people every day so I don't even have to take their orders normally.”


Amanda Pitzer at the front counter of the Blue Collar ringing up a customer's order on Wednesday, January 25, 2023 in Eyota.
Theodore Tolelfson / Post Bulletin

The laid back atmosphere with little change in the last year has also been seen by the patrons at the Blue Collar as well. A group of retired men who get together every morning at the restaurant for biscuits and gravy and a game of dice keep the laid back atmosphere alive for the customer.

“Every little town has a place like this,’ said Sy Whalen, a retired Northwest Airlines employee and Eyota resident. “It’s always been a nice place with the different owners and we like to support our local town restaurants.”

The group of men also play dice each morning they meet at the Blue Collar after their meals. It’s been a tradition for years, but became all the more special to keep going when one of their friends, Vern Hammel, passed away last fall.

“Before he died, Vern set aside $150 an envelope with a dice,” Dick Retterath, a member of the group, said about Hammel. “We shake it every morning, when we do and if it lands on the side with his face on it, we get a free cup of coffee that day.”

The dice with the face of Vern Hammel on it which his old breakfast crew rolls each morning at the Blue Collar Cafe in his memory and for a free cup of coffee in Eyota.
Theodore Tollefson / Post Bulletin

Another bittersweet thing that keeps the wholesome, small town feeling of the Blue Collar alive is when Andrew Peterson first began working at the restaurant when he was 17. He was able to help get his dad, Steve, a job there as a cook.

Steve is still cooking during the lunch and dinner hours of the restaurant Wednesdays through Sundays.

“I'm blessed with very good employees: Amanda, my dad and everyone else,” Andrew Peterson said. “My dad ran Strikers in Stewartville for over 20 years back to where it was the 11th Frame Lounge. Now, owning the Blue Collar feels like the puzzle is completed and put together.”

The Blue Collar is famous for its breakfast skillets and sandwich wraps for lunch, according to Pitzer, which she recommends first to new customers wanting to know what's best to eat.


The Blue Collar is open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays, 6 a.m. to 8 pm Wednesdays and Thursdays, and 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends.

The entrance of the Blue Collar Cafe in Eyota on a quiet morning on January 25, 2023.
Theodore Tollefson / Post Bulletin

Blue Collar Cafe

215 E S Front St, Eyota, MN 55934


Theodore Tollefson is a business reporter for the Post Bulletin. He is originally from Burnsville, Minn., and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a bachelor's degree in journalism in December 2020. Readers can reach Theodore at 507-281-7420 or
What To Read Next
Get Local