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Red’s Kitchen in Altura focuses on community, good food

Red's Kitchen

22 Main Street South

Altura, Minn.

Hours: Monday to Friday, 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, 6 a.m. to 1 p.m., Sunday, during winter months, 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Biggest seller: The Big Breakfast, two eggs any style with toast, hash browns and choice of bacon, ham, sausage patties or links for $6.50.

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Call: (507) 796-6351

ALTURA, Minn. — Brenda Wohlers, owner of Red’s Kitchen in Altura, said her restaurant is an integral part of the small town.

"I believe that this is the heart of the community," she said.

The restaurant earns its distinction by hosting community events such as a Halloween hay ride, old-time music bands and a Santa Day for kids in early December.

"I really believe in giving of myself to people," said Wohlers.

She participates in a regional senior dining program and Meals on Wheels. A bulletin board is open to anyone who wants to post an announcement. The restaurant is also home to a community book swap and the building can be used for meetings or parties.

In 2005, the business earned a "Restaurant Neighbor Award" from the National Restaurant Association for its work with the community. Only three in Minnesota were honored that year.

A children’s corner in the front of the restaurant entertains with toys while adults enjoy their meal. Wohlers said it’s particularly helpful for families traveling through town on their way to camping in the area and Whitewater State Park. The restaurant also sells essential grocery items for campers.

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While the business is welcoming to out-of-towners, the majority of the clientele is the local farming community.

One community member, Pastor Dave Sobek of Our Savior’s Moravian Church, asked for the same breakfast so often that it became a menu item: two scrambled eggs with vegetables, cheese, English muffin and fruit. Others, like the a UPS delivery man and Wohlers’ boyfriend, Dave Pruka, also made the menu.

Red’s Kitchen offers full breakfast and lunch options and boasts of the best pancakes in Winona County. Wohlers said that’s because they are made with real eggs and whole milk and come out thin.

Mugs are pegged to the wall so customers may help themselves to gourmet cappuccino, hot chocolate and coffee. Wohlers said the help-yourself philosophy reminds customers of home.

"It’s exactly what you think of when you think of a hometown cafe," said Wohlers’ only full-time employee, Jeni Dorn.

Breads and baked goods are made from scratch and her burgers are hand-pattied from meat that’s never frozen. In warm months, she offers Mexican food for the Hispanic laborers on the area’s farms. A volunteer, Patty Mayorga, helps with translating.

Anthony Loken, a dairy farmer who lives just south of town, calls his order in so he it’s ready when he gets there. He could recently be found enjoying one of the restaurant’s biggest sellers: the Big Breakfast.

"There’s good service, good food, good company," and everyone always has a smile on their face, he said.

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—Heather Carlile

If you have a favorite restaurant that you would like to have featured in Agri News, drop us a note. You can write us at Box 6118, Rochester, MN 55903. Or you can call us at (507) 285-7659 or e-mail wilmes@agrinews.com.

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