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Richards Treat Memories

Leaded window from Richards Treat Restaurant. From the Minnesota Historical Society collection

It's fun to see the memories of Richards Treat appearing here--I'm always amazed at how many people have a connection to the cafeteria, the coffee shop, one of the employees, or to Misses Richards and Treat themselves. As I've come to learn more about this special place over the years, one question keeps coming to mind: Would a place like Richards Treat thrive today? Good meals and great baked goods, an ever-changing menu, an emphasis on proper nutrition, proprietors who take an active interest in their clientele--seems like a winning formula. I daydream about having such a place to stop into for breakfast or lunch, or for a quick takeout meal at the end of the day. I wonder what it would take to recreate Richards Treat. . . .
- Kate, Minneapolis

I remember the two of them as crusty, but kindly. As for that incredible restaurant, begin with the ham loaf with mustard sauce. Why doesn`t anyone make it anymore. It was a true winner as was their chicken pie and just about everything else. And you had to have the Wellesley Fudge cake for dessert. Yes, we ate dessert those good, old, skinny days. As a young reporter working nights for the mighty Minneapolis Tribune, I would dine there often.....we would rush before it closed. On rare occasions when I worked days, I would eat lunch with the bigwigs....that is, the editorial staff. What a thrill to sit with John K. Sherman, the critic of all of the arts, or Bradley L. Morison, the award-winning writer. My husband also holds Richards Treat dear. As a college student at the U., he often indulged, particularly in that fudge cake. Nowadays, only one restaurant remains of the old crew -- Peter`s Grill. It is different, of course, but also offers great home-cooked food -- although no ham loaf. By the way, in the article, the menu pictured from April of 1950 or so, I think, served a hot turkey dinner with everything. Nowadays, you have to wait for Thanksgiving to eat great roasted turkey. Ah, well, those were the great days.
- Barbara, Minneapolis

I worked in Richards Treat the summers of 1951 and 1952 while I was a student at the U. I think I did more different jobs than almost anyone else. I bused, washed dishes, cooked, folded bakery boxes, mopped the floor, stored newly delivered food, supplied food from the kitchen to Janice and Scotty at the steam table, and supplied the clean dishes and trays, but the most unusual was cleaning the bakery ferris-wheel oven. Late in the day after it had cooled for hours, they put me inside the oven with hammer and chisel to knock off accumulated burnt food. Most of the time I was inside, at least one of the supervisors was at the door offering me things to drink and making sure I was all right. Miss Richards and Miss Treat were seldom there, but when they came, they would ask me about my aunt Georgia, who had been their colleague at the U of M. Georgia was born in 1886, so just a year or two younger than Miss Treat. Coincidentally, Georgia's father, my grandfather, was president of the Minneapolis Board of Education from 1908 to 1914 and would have been involved in hiring Edith Jones and the establishment of the Minneapolis high-school cafeteria system. They also were particularly nice to the dishwasher-supervisor. She was probably the least liked employee, at least by other employees. However, Miss Richards and Miss Treat believed in hiring the handicapped and the dishwasher-supervisor was severely hunch-backed and her daughter who was also a dishwasher was deaf and deformed. The supervisors and other employees were really quite pleasant although when the line of customers started to reach the outside door, nerves often were on edge. Mr. LeSauvage was somewhat of an exception, he seemed to "run a tight ship," but he was more even than others, when the crowds grew. He was generally in his office and would seldom observe enough of employees activities to pass any judgment by himself. My belief is that firings were initiated by others and it was his own decision to leave.

One photo and its legend in Kate Roberts article is a bit misleading. The china with flowers was not the standard fare, however, chicken pot pies were famous and they were in dishes like the one shown. Almost all dishes were used several times each day, often treated rather roughly by dishwashers, and frequently stained. Anything delicate just could not survive. I can't say if my experience at Richards Treat was an influence, but much of my life has been spent increasing food supplies and teaching nutrition.
-Ralph, Berkely, California

I worked at Richards Treat in 1954-56. I cleared tables in the dining areas, and got additional food for the customers in the summer time. Though I was only 17 when I started, I was made dining room manager when the regular one I think her name was Miss Anderson went into the hospital. In the Fall, I worked after school in the dining areas, serving additional cups of coffee free. Miss Richards and Miss Treat had a lot of Spanish decor in their cafeteria, and so they had me wear a Spanish skirt, blouse, and head piece as I served coffee. Though the work was hard, I enjoyed my job. I was saving money for college.
-Karen, New Prague, Minnesota

What a joy to read the article on Richards Treat in the recent issue of Minnesota History. Such wonderful memories. As a young boy in the 1940s and early 1950s, my favorite sandwich was my mothers egg salad made into a sandwich on Richard Treat's oatmeal bread. It was fantastic! We lived near the Franklin Avenue bridge in south Minneapolis and often made a special trip downtown just to buy that bread. Over the years I've told many people about Richards Treat and their outstanding bakery products - as well as their good food. Just writing about it now makes me hungry for it all over again. Thanks for the memories.
-John, Minneapolis