For decades, the Mint Cafe was one of Redwood's meeting places, where much of the town's business was done over a mug of coffee and piece of pie.
The old Mint Cafe is long gone but not forgotten. The name “Mint Cafe” is still etched in many memories. It was a landmark for many Redwood Falls High School alumni and other folks in town, as were the old Engh’s Bakery building, Backer’s Variety, Forster’s Furniture Store, the Green Parrott, Clem’s Jewelry, Mike and Joe’s, Citizen State Bank, Wildung-Nelson Hardware Store, Ehler’s Clothing Store, Lindy’s Variety, Young’s Standard Station, Whittet’s Texaco Station, Gambles Store, Montgomery Ward’s, J. C. Penney’s, Beecher Drug, Seifert’s Variety, Quesenberry Appliance, Chris Schulte’s leather and harness shop, Paffrath’s and Willcox Hardware Stores, Ramsey and Redwood Hotels and so many other buildings and businesses.
Most of these places are just history now – memories, if you will – things of the past. In many cases, the buildings, too, are gone, but their memories still linger. Those old businessmen are also long gone. Do you remember Ed Johnson, Perk and Paul, L. E. Baker, George and Grace Beecher, Art Seifert’s, Carl Farnberg, Harry Willcox, Harry Swartz, Harry Hepner, Chris Shulte, and Scott Schoen? The list of names is endless. Do you have any idea when the Mint Cafe got started or who the person or persons were who started that restaurant? Probably not. I didn’t know before I started this research on the Mint Cafe. Which business was in the old Mint Cafe building before it became a restaurant? There is a lot of history concerning Red-wood Falls most people don’t know about, but a lot of old history can be found in old issues of The Red-wood Gazette and other old town papers. Did you know Melges Barber Shop was located in the same building as the Mint Cafe? Did you even know there was a Melges Barber Shop? Julius H. Melges started this barber shop. Melges was born in Brown County Sept. 28, 1868 and died in 1939. Mickey Melges (’59) is a grandson of Julius. Perhaps some of you alumni know Mickey or know of him. Mickey, however, is only one of descendants of Julius H. Mel-ges. I am sure there are others, as well. “J. H. Melges, barber and bath rooms, opposite the Francois Hotel. Has a neat and clean shop. Came from New Ulm to this city 14 years ago and has been quite successful in his business.” This means J. H. Melges came to Redwood Falls about the year 1886, when he was 18 years old. Here is a short excerpt from The Red-wood Gazette, from June 2, 1892: “The shop is nicely fitted up and contains two chairs. Hair cutting and dressing, shaving, etc., done neatly and quickly. Sharp razors, clean linen, comfortable chairs and popular prices. Ladies’ and children’s hair cutting a specialty. Try this place.” Anyway, the Mint Cafe was the next business to occupy the same building as Melges Barber Shop. W. S. Buchanan and his wife came to town in May 1922 and started this restaurant. The first two advertisements of the Mint Cafe were found in The Redwood Gazette, dated Wednesday July 5 and 12, 1922 “W. S. Buchanan has opened a restaurant and lunch room in the Melges building on Second Street. The building is well located, has been newly fitted up with restaurant fixtures and is now an attractive lunch room. “Mr. Buchanan is a chef of much training and experience and well qualified, to give the public excellent service in his new place of business. “He expects to make a special of short order cookery. Mrs. Buchanan will assist him in the business.” In August 1929, the Mint Cafe was sold by the Buchanan’s to Mr. and Mrs. P. A. Gotten-borg of Detroit Lakes. This means the Buchanan’s owned and operated the Mint Cafe from 1922-29, a period of seven years. Mr. and Mrs. Gottenborg only owned the restaurant for 19 months. They sold it to Charles Wagner, and he took it over in April 1931. Charles had the business for seven years and five months. Charles Wagner sold the Mint Cafe to a Dakota Man by the name of Henry “Hank” Kronoveter, who took over the business Oct., 15, 1938. Mr. Kronoveter apparently ran the Mint Cafe from Oct. 15, 1938 until February 1949. He died March 18, 1960 in Lincoln County. Bennett O. and Irene Lyslo bought the Mint Cafe in 1949. Irene was the daughter of Blaine and Anna (Paape) McKay who ran McKay’s Cafe on Third Street. Mr. and Mrs. Lyslo owned and operated a cafe in Sleepy Eye until 1948 and then moved to Redwood Falls in 1949. They ran the Mint Cafe from Feb-ruary 1949 until sometime in 1960. The Mint Cafe specialized in steaks, chow mein and home-made chili. A big baseball score board was displayed for many years in the front window of the cafe for the baseball fans. The Mint Cafe first opened its doors in May 1922 and kept them open until 1960, a span of 38 years. Irene Lyslo died Oct. 12, 1993 and her husband, Bennett died in April 1954, so you can see Irene ran the Mint Cafe the last six years of its existence.