Grover opens Country Cupboard in antique mall“All the food that grandma used to make.” What could sound more comforting – or more taste-tempting – especially on a day when the outdoor temperature is hovering around zero and six inches of new snow lie on the ground?
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
“All the food that grandma used to make.” What could sound more comforting – or more taste-tempting – especially on a day when the outdoor temperature is hovering around zero and six inches of new snow lie on the ground? Wednesday was opening day at the brand, new Country Cupboard in the Antiques Off Broadway mall, 103 Avenue C, in Cloquet’s Historic West End, and on the menu were classic comfort foods such as boiled dinner, three-cheese grilled cheese sandwiches, blueberry muffins, peanut butter cookies and banana cream pie.
“My basic concept is to keep it simple,” said proprietor and chief cook Mary Grover of Carlton. “There’s going to be ice cream, sundaes, malts and coffee, and I’d like to bring back the old egg-drop Scandinavian coffee. I’m shooting for a really homey, warm kind of a feel – soup, sandwiches and salads and a new special every three days. I have an unbelievable brownie recipe that comes from my husband’s grandmother that I hope to make for the shop, along with all those yummy things your grandma used to make – the pumpkin bars, the apple pie and cookies.”
Grover said she will also offer homemade hot dishes, Swedish meatballs and similar specials in addition to a set menu of four or five different kinds of sandwiches. For breakfast, Grover plans to offer muffins and banana bread, along with feature breads from Sustenance Bakery in Superior.
“They make a cranberry walnut wild rice bread that is to die for, especially when toasted,” she said. “They’re also going to be making their specialty cinnamon raisin bread for me to use as a breakfast bread, though they typically only offer it during the Christmas season. In addition, they make a 10-grain wheat and a foccacia.”
If there’s enough demand for the feature breads, Grover said she may decide to sell them in her bakery case as well.
Though the Country Cupboard represents Grover’s first venture in the restaurant business, she’s had plenty of past experience in all of the things that count. An avid home cook and baker, she admits she keeps her Kitchen Aid mixer out on the counter all the time and uses it pretty much every day. She learned from-scratch cooking from her mother, who had six children and did all of the cooking and baking on her own.
As a member of Elim Lutheran Church of Blackhoof, Grover has frequently been an integral part of that congregation’s very active church supper fundraisers, also helping to co-chair the popular annual Potato Sausage Supper each fall.
“I love to cook and I always have,” said Grover. “I’ve been talking about doing something like this, in this type of setting, for years.”
Grover’s talents run far beyond cooking, however. She’s a seasoned artist and crafter, who especially enjoys transforming antique materials into country crafts. She worked for eight years at Persnickety in Carlton, at the same time learning to paint and eventually becoming an art instructor in her own right as director of Wrenshall Community Education for nine years.
The Country Cupboard features many of Grover’s original pieces, as well as antique silver coffee sets, coffee grinders, vintage table linens and china teacups from the adjacent antique mall. Grover said she intends to hold art classes at the restaurant, leading small groups in art projects that can be completed during a three-hour session.
The Country Cupboard will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Tuesdays. For more information, call 218-878-1500.
“I’m looking forward to this,” Grover said with enthusiasm. “I’m really excited.”