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Choo-Choo Cafe opens

Kenmare residents and visitors can now enjoy breakfast and lunchtime dining at the Choo-Choo Cafe downtown on the south side of the square.

3/11/09 (Wed)


Kenmare residents and visitors can now enjoy breakfast and lunchtime dining at the Choo-Choo Cafe downtown on the south side of the square.


Owners Stanley and Kim Kopp left northern California and purchased the former Cindy’s Cafe last summer from Cindy and Cameron Bartuska.


The Kopps started serving customers officially on Sunday, although they hosted Kenmare Association of Commerce members and guests on March 2nd and held an open house on February 26th.


The Choo-Choo Cafe welcomes customers from 6 am until 2 pm each Monday through Thursday, with Sunday hours from 7 am to 2 pm. The menu includes a variety of breakfast entrees, sandwiches and burgers, and a soup and salad bar featuring Stan Kopp’s homemade soup and stew recipes.


The Choo-Choo Cafe lives up to its location next to the railroad tracks, with decor featuring a railroad crossing sign, a large mural of a steam engine, a framed photo of an old Soo Line caboose, and a 1919 North Dakota railway map. The Kopps are developing a family wall in the back room with photos and personal treasures from their relatives, and a second area will be devoted to NASCAR memorabilia.


Customers will notice new paint, carpet, wallpaper and curtains in the diner that reflect some of the changes completed by the Kopps over the past few months.


“We want to offer a clean, family-friendly, fun cafe with good food for the community,” Kim said. “We’ve cleaned, painted and organized, and performed maintenance on all the equipment.”


The Kopps were joined last week by Stan’s cousin Ellen Jung of Clintonville, WI. Ellen owns and operates the Riverside Cafe there, and has 15 years of experience in food service in Wisconsin. Earlier this winter, Stan spent a week observing and working at the Riverside to learn more about the business.


“This is wonderful,” Ellen said as she glanced around the interior of the Choo-Choo Cafe. “I think it’s beautiful. I’m here to just offer a little guidance and show them how to cook in the kitchen.”


She paused and laughed at her last statement. “Stan’s a good cook already!” she said.


With the Kopps being new to the restaurant business, they are taking small steps as they open the cafe. “Right now, we’ll close on Fridays and Saturdays,” Kim said. “We can’t over-commit and under-deliver.”


She smiled as she joked about surviving their first winter in North Dakota, with a business to open and a century-old house to remodel. “It’s been a fun learning experience all around,” she said. “And we’re looking forward to settling into our routine!”