“The Meeting Place in Grand Marais’, the Blue Water Cafe, has been sitting at the corner of Wisconsin Street and 1st Ave West since the 1970s. Prior to that, the building has always been a popular eatery in Grand Marais.
Longtime residents and visitors of Grand Marais may recall that Tony’s Eat, a small eatery with just a few stools at a counter, started the building’s life back in the 1940s. Though small, Tony’s Eat was incredibly popular, starting the trend of the site being home to a series of successful restaurants.
In the 1950s, it was known as Du Nord. As Du Nord, the restaurant grew as an addition built onto the original building allowed for a larger kitchen and more dining space.
In the 1960s, it was known as the El Ray Cafe. A remodel of the entire building updated the decor to include booths.
Finally, in the 1970s, the cafe was purchased by Micheal and Sharon Rusten, who also owned Cascade Lodge at the time, and the name was changed to Blue Water Cafe. In 1985 the restaurant was expanded to include a second level, known as the Upper Deck, to increase seating even more as the popularity of Blue Water grew.
The restaurant changed hands a few times before being purchased by Dan and Melodee Riddle in 2005. Since then, the Riddles have made a few changes to the restaurant, including a recent remodel to the exterior of the property, and closing down food service in the Upper Deck and converting the space into a vacation rental. Some things, though, have been kept the same. Booths still line the walls of the eatery where diners can enjoy historic photos of downtown Grand Marais and a large mural of Lake Superior.
Something they have also done, much to the delight of many locals, is purchasing the pie-making equipment and recipes from the now-closed Pie Place in 2018. They tweaked a few of the recipes to be unique to Blue Water Cafe and now have a nice list of delicious, fresh-baked pies available in the cafe. Their first signature pie, The Killer Berry Pie, is an incredible fruit pie sweetened with killer bee honey and topped with a granola topping. A must-try on your next visit to Blue Water Cafe.
Dan Riddle spends a lot of time searching for and concocting different pie recipes, looking for the next great pie to introduce to the Grand Marais community. Stay tuned as his ideas come to life and the pie offering at Blue Water Cafe grows.
In the meantime, swing on over to Blue Water Cafe and enjoy a full breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu. They are open for all three meals during the peak summer season and then open for breakfast and lunch in the winter. Hours may vary, so be sure to check out their website for current hours and menu. Located in downtown Grand Marais, Blue Water Cafe sits just steps away from the Lake Superior shoreline and the Grand Marais Harbor. You can’t miss it.
Listen to our interview with Dan and Melodee Riddle on “The Pies of Grand Marais” episode of “Exploring the North Shore”: