Restaurants that have served Rochester for decades

"We’ve never locked our front door in 45 years. It’s been the meeting place for southeastern Minnesota groups, seminars, ag meetings and countless others."

That’s from Mark Anderson, owner of Rochester’s Holiday Inn South, a lodging and dining favorite that opened the same week President Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963. Last week I recalled some restaurants that had closed. Today we’ll touch on three family-owned establishments that have served Rochester for decades.

Michael’s celebrates 57 years: Charlie Pappas, along with brothers George, Jim and Paul and their parents, opened Michaels on Broadway, where it has stood since 1951. Paul Pappas had purchased the Hubbell House in Mantorville five years earlier in 1946. Charlie and several nephews operate Michaels Restaurant and Pappageorge’s Lounge as a place where "the elite meet to eat," referring back to an old radio program.

It doesn’t just happen, as Charlie told me several years ago. They pay attention to every detail, but the food, wines and friendly atmosphere keep folks returning from all over the world.

Famous faces


Let’s go West: Some famous names grace the Hubbell House placemats. Bishop Whipple, Ole Bull, Charles and Will Mayo, and Dwight Eisenhower are just a few of those names. And guests are fascinated by the huge mural on the wall of famous faces, including dozens who have dined there since 1946. Paul Pappas had an idea to keep this historic spot going.

Many over the years have stopped in historic Mantorville for a meal during an autumn drive. Located 17 miles northwest of Rochester in Dodge County, the restaurant and Mantorville Theater Company often "team up" for dinner and a show. Paul’s son Don is one of several brothers with an interest at the Hubbell House. But Don looks forward to his late July "Beatles Bash," bringing in hundreds who might never see this historic place.


Do they have challenges today? Oh yes. With the higher gas prices, some families are doing less driving. Mark’s Holiday Inn has the lodging advantage with 200 rooms that are often filled for sports tournaments, two- or three-day seminars and many evening banquets. I asked Mark if there are any plans on the drawing board for expansion.

"Yes, there are," he told me. "But we’re on hold for awhile, but eventually a multiple story structure in the north parking lot."

There have been several times for expansion since his father Don built the inn with four other partners. Mark was 12 and said he’s always been employed, starting with a paper route at age 11. So they’re celebrating their 45th birthday and during the year ahead, look for a new name on their sign.

Michaels has grown several times over the years, as small businesses on both sides of the restaurant closed, letting Michaels expand. My wife’s sister Irene in London called a few days ago and asked "is Michaels still going?" I was surprised. But then I remembered we had taken Irene and her husband, Doug, to Michaels when they visited us a decade ago.

Countless sports pictures and famous faces grace the walls at Michaels. Find 83-year-old Charlie Pappas with many of them. His nephew, Michael, had the camera in hand when Ralph John Fritz, Charlie and I had our photo snapped in 2005. There we are, along with folks like Joe Louis, Whitey Ford and others. The piano and music combos have been keeping Pappageorges fans entertained for years.


Earlier this summer the Hubbell House celebrated 62 years under the Pappas family ownership. Hundreds of luncheons, banquets, birthdays, anniversaries, class reunions and more have kept the Three Crowns Dining Room at Holiday Inn South and numerous dining sections at both Michaels and the Hubbell House going for a combined 164 years.

Next week: A look at United Way of Olmsted County, and Thanksgiving is here.

Harley Flathers is a longtime

Rochester-area broadcaster and historian. Got a comment for Harley? Send it to or to Harley at

Post-Bulletin, P.O. Box 6118, Rochester, MN 55903.

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