‘Sad to see it go’: End of an era for Curran’s

Historic Kingfield restaurant Curran's will be missed, customers say

Dennis Curran, owner of Curran's Restaurant in Kingfield. After 72 years, the restaurant has closed because of COVID-19-related financial troubles. Photo by Nate Gotlieb

Tangletown retiree Dianne Dunn ate most of her breakfasts at Curran’s Restaurant for more than a decade, reading the newspaper and visiting with other regulars.

“It kind of has the feeling of Cheers bar, only it’s breakfast,” she said.

On Sunday, Aug. 23, the family-run restaurant known for its all-day breakfast, vast menu and reasonable prices heated up the griddle for the last time.

After 72 years, the restaurant has closed because of COVID-19-related financial troubles. The site, at 42nd & Nicollet, will be converted into a five-story apartment building that’s slated to open in late spring or early summer of 2022.

Dunn and other longtime customers said they’ll miss Curran’s’ modestly priced meals and friendly service and their chats with other regular diners and owner Dennis Curran.

While some plan to seek out a new regular breakfast spot, customers said Curran’s will be tough to replace.

“It’s just so sad to see it go,” said Pat Seifert of Mendota Heights, who grew up at 36th & Pillsbury.

Curran’s was founded by Dennis Curran’s father, Mike, as a drive-in in 1948 and was converted to dine-in only in 1978.

Dennis became a partner in the business in 1977 and the sole owner in 2005.

He said in a July interview that he worked over the years to improve his menu— adding fresh-squeezed orange juice and locally grown sausage, for example — and that his staff was hard-working and well-organized.

“I’m going to miss doing this,” he said.

Southwest Minneapolis resident Jack Brunelle first ate at Curran’s in 1948, the year it opened, and had been eating there regularly for the past 25 years. The 88-year-old said the restaurant evolved over the years but the food remained tasty and reasonably priced.

Brunelle, a retired attorney and accountant, said he mostly ate breakfast at Curran’s but sometimes ate there three times a day. He said he’ll be sad to no longer see Dennis Curran and the restaurant’s employees and customers.

“[Curran] had very high standards, and his employees kept them wholly because they loved him,” he said.

Handyman Terry Knadle, a customer of 49 years who remodeled the restaurant in 1982, said Curran’s was a place where “everybody knew everybody” and that Dennis Curran was often there seven days a week.

“It’s not commercialized like other chain restaurants,” said Richard DeGonda of Bloomington, who ate at Curran’s with his wife, Mary, for over 15 years. “It’s more like a small-town restaurant where you get good home cooking.”

Adam White, who ate at Curran’s once a week with his father, Howard, said the restaurant’s waiters were down to earth and the food was cheap.

He and Kara King brought their son to the restaurant early on the morning of Aug. 23 to celebrate his 8th birthday before they went to work.

“I wish they weren’t closing,” he said.

Lynette Nicholson, who grew up near Curran’s, drove down from St. Cloud for one final meal on Aug. 23.

She said the restaurant was her late mother’s favorite and that she was upset about its closing.

Marvin Wilson, who worked at Curran’s in the 1980s, flew in from Greenville, South Carolina, for one last meal.

He said his daughter, niece and nephew worked at Curran’s and that his family became close with the Currans over the years.

“I had to come,” Wilson said. “I’ll really miss it.”

The Curran’s site, 4207 Nicollet Ave., will be purchased by developer Alex Gese, whose plans call for an 82-unit apartment building are expected to go before the Planning Commission in the fall.