St. Paul's Trotter's Cafe & Bakery was dishing up regional foods long before the local food movement gained its foothold. Through the years, the restaurant's owners have maintained their dedication to local and organic foods, even in the midst of expansion. What started in 1989 as a whole-grain bakery with three tables is now a 65-seat cafe with a full-service coffee bar, craft beers, wine, homemade bakery items, and breakfast, lunch, and dinner options.
Trotter's emphasis on local foods stems from the owners' desire to support the local economy and to know where their food is coming from.
"When we first started, we really wanted to buy as much local as we could. Over the years, it's gotten easier to buy fresh produce from farmers. Now it's just part of everyday ordering," owner Dick Trotter says. "I have eight farmers that deliver to me every week."
Beyond buying from local and organic producers, Trotter's primary focus is on the surrounding community.
"It's been a big part of Trotter's to be a part of the community," Trotter says. "We've watched kids come in in diapers and now they're in college."
To celebrate 25 years of business and show its appreciation for the surrounding community, the Merriam Park staple is going all out. From October 13 until October 18, Trotter's will offer coffee at 1989 prices, in addition to various events and discounts set to take place throughout the week.
Monday is "Big Pizza Night," when guests can purchase hand-crafted pizzas with half-priced bottles of wine. On Thursday, lunch will be offered at half price for "Regulars Day." Friday is "Birthday Cake Day," during which the owners will not only offer Chocolate Chaos cake -- a rich bundt cake with chocolate glaze and a layer of cream cheese -- but will also throw an employee's reunion party featuring an all-night happy hour and Irish music by Trout in the Milk. The week-long celebration will end on Saturday, when Trotter's welcomes "Hurricane" Harold Tremblay of KFAI and Doug Otto and the Getaways for a night of musical entertainment.
Trotter's birthday will take place just a week after renovations on the restaurant are completed. The space was formerly split into three small rooms, with the coffee bar in the central room. During renovations, the walls dividing the rooms will be removed to create one large dining space with the coffee bar along the back wall. Owners Dick and Pat Trotter will also add new menu boards and lighting.
"We're making the space lighter and brighter and more open -- mostly just for the comfort of our customers and for our new menu," Trotter says.
Trotter's new menu will include additional burger, sandwich, and breakfast items. They're also purchasing their first deep fryer, which means customers can nosh on Trotter's famous Jo Jo fries all day long. Send your story tips to Hot Dish.