Pit Stop Bar Grille in Dexter lets diners do some of the work

Pit Stop Bar & Grille

Location: 236 South Main Street, Dexter, Minn., off exit 193 from Interstate 90.

Hours: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday. Saturday and Sunday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The full service bar opens at 3 p.m. during the week and at 12 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Last call in the bar is 1 a.m.

Best sellers: The sirloin steak for two comes with unlimited soup, salad and potato bar plus all-you-can-eat Texas toast for $24. The New York strip and ribeye steaks cost $17.95. Customers get $2.50 off if they grill the meat themselves.

Contact: (507) 584-1492


DEXTER, Minn. — The Pit Stop Bar and Grille’s claim to fame is that you can cook your own steak. The restaurant has a large gas grill in one of the seating areas.

Customers select their own sirloin, New York strip or ribeye from a case stocked with Geneva Meats’ steaks.

"They’re huge," said owner Jon Shaw. Their sirloins are 20-ounces and can be split into two 10-ounce portions. The ribeye and New York strips are 12 ounces each.

Jon and his wife, Sandy, run the Pit Stop Bar & Grille inside their small empire known as the Geo Travel Plaza in Dexter. It contains their other businesses: a BP gas station, a convenience store with a deli and a banquet hall that seats 300. The plaza’s other business space is rented out.

"We try our best in customer satisfaction," Jon said. "That’s number one."

One of their sons, Craig, is a manager and their daughter, Michelle Lonnergan, will move her hair salon, Michelle’s Touch of Class, from its downtown Dexter to the plaza to be closer to family and help with bookkeeping.

Jon said he didn’t originally intend to run the restaurant. They picked up the business two years ago when the eatery’s first owners left.

"I enjoy cooking so we went from there," he said.


Jon saw a grill-your-own-steak place in northern Wisconsin, liked what he saw and brought the idea home. He estimates that 50 percent of his customers take advantage of the restaurant’s special feature and remembers there were 52 steaks on the grill at one time for last year’s Christmas party.

A grill master or another employee is sometimes on hand to assist grilling customers, who have an arsenal of spices and seasonings to add to their meat while it cooks over seasoned briquettes. Guests can also grill and eat unlimited Texas toast. Meat thermometers are available to help customers determine when their meal is ready.

Jon said other customers prefer solely visiting the potato bar, which has all kinds of baked potato toppings. There is also salad and soup bars. All of the soup and half of the salad bar’s dressings are homemade. There’s usually one soup featured each night, but there will be two during winter.

As you might guess with a name like the Pit Stop Bar & Grille, the bar has a racing theme. Craig and his brother, Brian, participate in dirt track racing.

The Shaws originally wanted a bowling alley in their plaza but, after getting all the equipment for it, decided to put in a banquet hall instead. The dance floor, made with wood originally for bowling lanes, still has lane arrows. The hall is rented out for parties such as weddings, birthdays and anniversaries.

—Heather Thorstensen

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