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John Eggers: Let me ask you something, where do you eat?

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The older we get, the more prone we are to eating out. How about you?

My parents never seemed to be reluctant to eat out. They had a group of friends who also enjoyed trying different supper clubs and this was in the days when there were no fast food places. When my parents ate out, in most cases, they would take my brother and me with them.

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One of their favorite places was the Holiday House in St. Peter.

It was a private supper club but anyone could join by paying a small annual fee. My parents were charter members.

The Holiday House served a lazy Susan type relish tray that was similar to today’s salad bar but it was brought right to your table.

My mother relished (no pun intended) this variety of appetizers.

One of the owners was the father to Annie, John Denver’s first wife.

When they were married, my parents were invited to the wedding.

You see, John Denver had close ties to Minnesota and he probably ate from the same relish tray served to my mother.

I began to eat out on my own when I was in high school.

I have told you the story about the time the superintendent made me return to my table (actually bleachers in the gym) and finish my Spanish rice.

The rice was loaded with big chunks of tomatoes, which I hated.

That was the last time I ate hot lunch in school. I was in first grade.

The rest of the time in elementary school, I carried a blue and gray tin lunch box containing a thermos of semi cold milk, a bologna sandwich and a Hostess cupcake with whip cream inside.

In high school my mother would give me 25 cents.

I used it to buy lunch at the Red Top Cafe. We didn’t have a closed campus, so many kids opted to eat downtown during the hour-long lunch break.

I guess they didn’t like Spanish rice either.

With my quarter I had several options.

I could get a 20-cent burger and a five-cent root beer. I could get a burger and a jelly Bismarck.

Or, I could buy a large root beer and two-jelly Bismarck’s.

I usually opted for the healthier burger and a root beer in a frosted glass.

The burgers in the Red Top Cafe were the best. I often think of doing a survey of the best burger places in the Bemidji area.

I would take about four to six people with me and we would check out the burgers in the area and give a numerical value to each place.

The one with the highest value would be voted the Bemidji area’s finest burger. Fast food places would not be eligible

Nymore has two burger places with a great reputation. You can also find great burgers at the Green Mill, Slim’s and Lazy Jacks.

There are also several bar and grills downtown that have excellent burgers.

I would include the Leonard Bar and Grill and the one in Trail.

I know there are more out there. We would base our score on taste and service. Now that would be an interesting survey.

Who would get your vote?

How about sandwiches? Many restaurants put a Philadelphia cheesesteak on their menu but there is no comparison between a Minnesota made Philly cheesesteak and an East Coast Philly.

I don’t know what it is but we can’t make a good Philly in this state. Maybe there is a secret ingredient.

As popular as Subway’s sandwiches are, I prefer Erbert and Gerbert’s. Why? They have the best bread. If this city had a Jimmie John’s, I would go there but we don’t, so Erbert’s and Gerbert’s get my vote. My son prefers Subway.

If you are looking for a good egg salad sandwich, go to Luekens.

It’s hard to make a good egg salad but they know how.

If you do get one, get it on a croissant bun. Egg salad tends to be a bit soggy and ordinary bread has a tendency to fall apart.

Don’t plan on eating in the car and make sure you have a good supply of napkins.

Bemidji has lots of fine eating establishments.

Even the Holiday Station serves a pretty good hot dog.

I hate to see restaurants close because I know the eating business is a dog eat dog (again no pun intended) world.

I know what all of you vegans and vegetarians are thinking about and some of you are my friends. “How can you possibly eat a burger loaded with all of that yucky stuff? And a hot dog? Come on, John, get real!”

That yucky stuff is called beef and if I were running for elective office I would run on the campaign, “Where’s the beef?”

I can’t imagine never eating another burger. Doesn’t our Constitution say, “All U.S. citizens shall eat a burger once a week and a hot dog at every baseball game.”

You are also probably thinking, “Don’t you ever eat at home?” Sure I do but when you eat at home, you can’t patronize all of those fine restaurants that need my dollar.

You see, my wife and I are just good citizens.

JOHN R. EGGERS of Bemidji is a former university professor and area principal. He also is a writer and public speaker.

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