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On-Farm Restaurant Feels Like Home

The service can’t get more downhome or friendly than at the Tutti Fruitti Kitchen & Market Farm in rural Sauk Centre, Minn. The restaurant is so popular that town folks drive out of town two miles for lunch. A farmer working in the fields doesn’t have to change clothes before eating there because it’s a restaurant on a farm, says owner Marlene Gwost. In addition to great home cooking, there’s a chance she will play a little concertina music during the meal.
  The Gwosts grow produce, which is sold on the farm or served in the on-farm restaurant or through its catering services. In the spring, customers come for U-Pick strawberries and asparagus. In the fall they return for the pumpkin patch and corn maze.
  It started in 1984 when Gwost and her husband, Kevin, who both had town jobs, purchased 30 acres. They sold extra vegetables from their garden from their front yard.
  “Every year we kept adding items and it got more popular and bigger,” Gwost says. Eventually they built a 2,108-sq. ft. building for washing, storage and selling, and two of the couple’s daughters ran the business. To bring in year-round income, the Gwosts decided to build a bakery, then added soup and sandwiches.
  “That lasted for a week. The following week we started serving regular lunches. We could see it would work,” says Gwost, who quit her town job in 2012 to help in the on-farm, 115-seat restaurant.
  Located about 2 1/2 miles off a major interstate highway, the restaurant attracts customers from both nearby towns as well as travelers passing through.
  “The number one thing we are known for is our caramel rolls and our homemade pies,” Gwost says. Besides all-day breakfasts, diners appreciate the restaurant’s daily buffets with different entrees from barbecue ribs, to roast beef to old-fashioned baked chicken. For people who like to eat at home, the Gwosts sell unbaked frozen beef and chicken potpies.
  One of the Gwosts’ daughters is in charge of the gardens, which provide the fresh vegetables, strawberries, raspberries and apples found at the buffet and on the menu. Three high tunnels extend their growing season. The restaurant was able to serve fresh tomatoes into January this year. Other vegetables are frozen for year-round use.
  A flock of 150 chickens provides eggs for the restaurant. In the beginning the Gwosts raised beef but couldn’t keep up with the demand, and now they purchase meat.
  A son is the main chef and another daughter is a waitress.
  “It’s nice to have three of our kids involved, and it’s going to be their future,” Gwost says. Because of the restaurant the farm provides a way to make a living for four families, plus other people hired to work at the on-farm businesses.
  The secret to success is simple, Gwost says. “We make them feel at home.”
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Tutti Fruitti Kitchen & Market Farm, 38914 Co. Rd. 186, Sauk Centre, Minn. 56378 (ph 320 352-2059; www.tuttifruittimarketfarm.com; info@tuttifruittimarketfarm.com).


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2017 - Volume #41, Issue #2