Cafe owner rescued left-behind building

Cafe owner rescued left-behind building
Nici Doom prepares a made to order Italian Cream Soda.

Left Bank Cafe

Hours: 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday. (Call for extended hours.)

Telephone: (507) 836-6008.

Specialties: Breakfast entrees served with fresh fruit, $5.50. Breakfast burrito, stuffed with eggs, cheese, peppers, onions. Paula's cornbread, served with maple syrup. Carrot cake. Reuben sandwich, $8 (comes with a side.) Sides: Dirty rice, grilled vegetables, bank spuds.

SLAYTON, Minn. — Every day on her way to work, Paula Matson passed by an empty building.


She fell in love with the building that seemed to have been left behind. One day, she called the Realtor and he showed it to her. She wrote the check out. Then she went home and told her husband.

"We weren't sure what to do with it," said Matson. "But a friend gave me an old espresso machine. Once repaired, it seemed natural to open an espresso business."

They opened in 1999 with espresso, one soup and sandwich. Today the menu includes hot and cold drinks and an expanded menu.

"The building was a bank at one time," said Matson. "When I visited Paris, all the coffee shops were on the left bank; hence the name, Left Bank Cafe."

Matson removed five false ceilings and seven floors during remodeling. Not one penny or dime was found in all the renovation, she laughed.

The Left Bank's walls are filled with artwork from different artists. Books from local authors are available for purchase.

A fan and huge supporter of scouts, Matson has a collection of Norman Rockwell prints that depict scouting.

"We don't do fast foods," said Matson. "A deep fat fryer can not be found on the premises. It is a healthier menu, using fresh vegetables from the local farmers market, whenever possible."


One of the sides is grilled vegetables, which vary by season. Dirty rice and bank spuds are often the other two sides. Bank spuds are small potatoes, lightly sauteed in olive oil and butter.

The Reuben sandwich is a favorite because Matson makes the corned beef from scratch, cooking it all day in a roaster. She doesn't use commercially prepared corned beef. The sandwich that combines the corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island served on rye bread is considered among the finest in southwestern Minnesota.

Another must have is carrot cake. Matson took a recipe and modified it to perfection.

Coffee remains a mainstay. Twenty coffee blends are roasted in the cafe. Orders come through email or phone calls, so that Left Bank Cafe has shipped roasted coffee beans all over the across and even internationally.

Italian creme sodas are made per customer request. Seltzer, syrup, ice and creme are incorporated to make a refreshing drink. Ghirardelli chocolate is infused to make a rich cocoa.

— Renae B. Vander Schaaf

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