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Cook-owner of Al's Breakfast retiring after 40 years

Doug Grina, one of the original owners Al's Breakfast, is set to retire -- pictured here with 20-year employee/co-owner Alison Kirwin behind the counter at the Dinkytown institution.

Doug Grina, one of the original owners Al's Breakfast, is set to retire -- pictured here with 20-year employee/co-owner Alison Kirwin behind the counter at the Dinkytown institution. Star Tribune

Since 1950, folks have packed the narrow corridor of Al’s Breakfast in Dinkytown with the sole purpose of eating an incredibly good breakfast. 

No matter the day or time, all 14 stools at the time capsule diner are guaranteed to be filled. The blueberry-walnut pancakes are worth a pilgrimage alone. Even the James Beard people understood as much, honoring Al’s in the "America's Classics Restaurants" category in 2004.

For the past 40 years, diners relied on one man to deliver on these promises and more: cook and co-owner Doug Grina. 

But this familiarity and sense of timeless stability is changing, as the 70-year-old announced his impending retirement, WCCO reports

Though Grina originally took the job as a cook in 1977 while studying horticulture, he found that his true home was Al’s. To this day, he says he’s “one of the only people I’ve ever met who loves his work so much he can’t wait to get there in the morning.”

Customers could taste Grina’s passion in every dish he served, and they delighted in the free side of sass he often tossed in with their eggs. Patrons loved his willingness to hassle politicians and random Joes alike, and his propensity to tell everyone to “Eat yer load and hit the road!”

Aside from Grina’s departure, spokespeople for Al’s say the institution's staying the same. 

But for those fans who need one more fix of Grina’s talent with a griddle, you have until December 20 to visit him. After that, he’ll be off to relax with family… and maybe make pancakes in more reasonable quantities? 

 

Al’s Breakfast
413 14th Ave. SE, Minneapolis
612-331-9991