Thanksgiving is here and families throughout Inver Grove Heights will gather in a celebration that will revolve around food, family and football Thursday and through the weekend. Stories will be told, toasts will be made and overindulgence in turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie will be on the top of every serious eater’s list.
Those who grew up in IGH may return home and ask what’s new around town. Some might say not a whole heck of a lot has happened when analyzing the IGH restaurant scene. Others may reference the two new Mexican restaurants in town (El Azteca and Rincon Mexicano), the fact that A&W reopened or that nothing else matters because Old World Pizza is still the best pizza around. Those who are frustrated with the lack of retail or restaurant development in town may reference how Argenta Hills still doesn’t have any new tenants, how Taco Bell still won’t be coming to town and how there are no new grocery stores coming to replace the former Rainbow Foods. But hey, through it all when you are home for Thanksgiving weekend you can still head down to Celts Pub and find a surprisingly outstanding selection of craft beer, over to Jersey’s Bar and Grill where that classmate you never talked to is suddenly your best friend or up to B52 Burgers and Brews where longtime friends will catch up over apps and taps.
While discussion around the IGH restaurant scene often turns to what IGH doesn’t have, this Thanksgiving the question is: Should we instead be thankful for what we do have or frustrated at what we don’t have? Because if you put together a list of restaurants and eateries that call Inver Grove Heights home, it’s a pretty diverse mix. The problem with IGH, according to one fast food industry consultant, is that there is no central hub of activity. There are pockets of retail or restaurants down Concord, along Cahill, in Arbor Pointe and around the Upper 55th/Highway 52 area. “Because the pockets are so spread out, it makes it hard for a business to know where to locate, because there isn’t one centralized hub of activity,” said this consultant who wished to remain anonymous but does have a connection to a Mexican restaurant that once asked you to make a run for the border.
Jennifer Gale, President of the River Heights Chamber of Commerce added this recently, saying “chain restaurants and stores use groups who produce economic indicator matrixes when they do national franchise searches and IGH is not going to be on the list for many reasons including, population, daytime employment and financial incentives.”
So that is a definite downer for those still hoping Chipotle, Wendy’s or Panera Bread will come to town someday (never going to happen).
But let’s get back to topic. Through it all, we have something that many other cities don’t. Not even Woodbury or Eagan can claim this as part of their own:
White Castle. Yep, IGH has a White Castle. Fast food at its finest. But it’s on Robert Street and most people associate that location with West Saint Paul.
The reality is Inver Grove Heights has numerous independent bar/restaurants that are unique in their own right, including:
- B52 Burgers and Brew
- Celt’s Pub
- Jersey’s Bar and Grill
- Mississippi Pub
- Overboard Bar and Grill
- The Bierstube
* There are multiple Celt’s and Bierstube’s but we don’t classify them as chain because each is unique. For example it’s only at the Celts in IGH that you can chat with Mort and Ronnie and belly up to Hodges and it’s only at The Bierstube in IGH that you can get warm beer and cold service.
That’s also 8 “non-chain” restaurants so many people covet.
Inver Grove Heights also has these unique independent restaurants:
- J’s Fish and Chicken
- El Rincon Mexican
- TC Taco
- El Azteca
- Cahill Diner
- Turitto’s pizza and subs
Speaking of chain restaurants, IGH has its share, including:
- Outback Steakhouse
- Ruby Tuesday’s
And of course, those fast food restaurants:
- McDonald’s (read why we have two McDonald’s on Cahill)
- Subway (like McDonald’s, we have multiple Subway restaurants)
- Dairy Queen
- Jimmy John’s
- White Castle
We have some specialty shops:
- Peterson’s Popcorn and Ice Cream
- Hometown Meats
And many, many pizza places
- Old World Pizza (read why improvements need to be made to the Old World Pizza buffet line)
- Papa John’s
- Little Caesars
- Dominick’s Pizza (border of IGH/Eagan for those not familiar)
We have unique Asian restaurants:
- A&L Chinese Restaurant
- Little Asia Bowl
And we can get groceries at Cub Foods, Aldi, Target and Wal-Mart. And you can even get a ribeye for $1 at The Dollar Store. There’s numerous selections of gas station grub at Holiday, SuperAmerica, Pilot Travel Center and others throughout town.
So when you look at that list, it’s a pretty unique and diverse list. But is it a list that makes you thankful for what we do have, or does it make you cringe for what we don’t have?
That’s a debate for the Thanksgiving dinner table, to be discussed over pumpkin pie, or at your favorite watering hole catching up with classmates, friends and family this holiday weekend. So wherever you end up in this great city, enjoy the Thanksgiving weekend, don’t drink and drive and be thankful for whatever it is that’s important to you.
And be sure to bring up this Thanksgiving conversation starter: Are you thankful for what we do have in IGH, or frustrated at what we don’t have?