Gordy's Hi-Hat opened in Cloquet for the season at 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 20. A long line of customers stretched into the parking lot as they patiently awaited the opening of the doors. They were not deterred by temperatures in the low 30s and light snow flurries as they chatted with friends or waited quietly taking the scene in before the doors were opened early.
Once inside, Gordy's son, Dan Lundquist, greeted friends with a hearty handshake as he took orders at the counter. His son, Sever, gathered the orders and brought them to customers and offered them a T-shirt.
The first 30 customers were excited to receive a limited-edition green T-shirts with "The first taste of spring" written on the back.
Alan Johnson, 53, lives in New Hope, Minn, and timed his visit to coincide with the opening. He said he visits Cloquet fairly often and stops by Gordy's several times over the summer.
"I have been coming here since I was a teenager," Johnson said as he held his mushroom and swiss cheese burger and onion rings in one hand and his shake in the other hand. He observed that it was a lot busier than last year's opening day.
Bob Pampy is also a longtime customer of Gordy's. He has been coming back with his wife Donna, for many years. They left Hibbing at 8 a.m. to make the opening. They were No. 24 through the door.
"I have been coming here since 1960, when I was a sophomore at Duluth Cathedral High School (Now Marshall School), Bob said. "I have been to California and all over and Gordy's has the best onion rings of anywhere."
While this is the first year they have visited on opening day, the couple said they stop at Gordy's many times during the summer. Bob brought the tray with his fish basket and onion rings and his wife's bacon cheeseburger and set it on the table.
"This is the breakfast of champions," Bob said with a laugh.
The lobby was still filled with a shorter line of waiting customers an hour after Gordy's opened.
It's the 59th season for the restaurant, known for its hand-pattied burgers, homemade fries and onion rings.