Peter's Grill Closes its Doors for Good

Posted at: 06/29/2013 4:21 PM
Updated at: 07/01/2013 8:13 AM
By: Beth McDonough

Peter's Grill is a restaurant in downtown Minneapolis where everyone knows the owner's name.

When customers arrived this weekend, they were welcomed at the door but not let in. The disheartened owner gently told dedicated diners that there's no more food -- Peter's Grill is no more. 

"It's a tragedy for downtown Minneapolis to lose this place," long-time customer Dan McGowan said. "It's been an institution for so long."

Customers stood on the outside looking in, taking pictures and mental notes. Brian Benjamin of Minneapolis reflects, "It's a little bit of nostalgia, history in the making."

Peter's Grill has been a way of life in the heart of downtown for nearly a century.

"I've had ordinary people from the street to the President of the United States," restaurant owner Peter Atsidakos said.

The restaurant survived the Great Depression, World War II, the fall of Communism and even the recession of 2008. Atsidakos blames the food trucks, in part, for driving him out of business. His sales are down 40 percent in one year. 

"It's competition, foods trucks, a little of everything," Atsidakos said.

He admits customers' tastes are changing from comfort food to a festival of foods. The owner of Bloomy's Roast Beef Food Truck has seen his business explode. 

"It's variety; you get a ton of different trucks in a one or two block stretch," Bloomy's owner Peter Sebastian said. "Where you could only fit one or two restaurants, you've got 15 different options."

As Atsidakos closes the storied book on his business, he says goodbye to 20 employees and countless regular customers. It's not easy, but it's necessary.

"They feel like home," he said. "I feel like it's my people."

Atsidakos is in talks to sell the restaurant and supplies but not the name or recipes. He's considering donating the famous Peter's Grill sign to a local museum.

To better deal with the competition of brick and mortar restaurants and rolling restaurants, each have formed their own organizations: the Downtown Food Council and the MN Food Truck Association.