It has been a staple of downtown for nearly two decades with its simple approach to dining and cozy, home-like atmosphere. From the ice cream parlor of its predecessor, Ward Drug, in the 1960s, '70s and '80s, to its present form as a diner, Greenhouse Cafe has been a destination for many who worked or lived near downtown Minot.
But that all changed in July 2008, when Greenhouse closed.
"Orland Rovig had originally gotten involved with the restaurant as a backer, but they couldn't find any cooks, so he would cook here during the day and then work at the bar he owned in downtown at night," said Jim Bowman, who owns the medical and professional building, located at 315 S. Main St. "He farms and ranches, too, so it just got to be too much. He closed the cafe and put it up for sale."
With a new logo and updated look, Greenhouse Cafe reopened on Nov. 4.
Tammy Pfau, owner of Greenhouse Cafe, checks on her homemade apple pie, one of several desserts featured weekly.
The business remained closed for the next year.
"There were people that wanted to put in a night club and stuff like that but those (ideas) didn't fit the rest of the building and would have hurt the other tenants," Bowman said.
With cafe owners hard to come by, Bowman bought the business himself and opened it as a food court, housing several local food businesses.
"I had people asking about the cafe all the time while it was closed," he said. "A lot of people have wonderful memories of that place."
Now, more than a year after closing, Greenhouse Cafe is back.
"I used to eat in here all the time with my mother-in-law and when the kids were having surgery or I came to visit my doctor who came here," said Tammy Pfau, the latest owner of the Greenhouse Cafe. "I always remembered it being quiet, but dark and kind of dingy. I know a lot of people have fond memories of this place so I wanted to keep it alive."
Pfau took over the cafe in September and began working on the physical and culinary transformation.
"I knew I wanted to keep some of the original stuff but I also want to modernize and brighten it up a bit," she said.
To update the look, Pfau repainted the walls of the kitchen and dining area, and added new curtains, lighting fixtures, countertops and table clothes. But to this new look she incorporated many of the original photographs, paintings and color schemes of the original Greenhouse Cafe and also kept the original kitchen, display cases and employee workspace intact.
"Now it's bright and shiny, but it still has that at-home atmosphere," Pfau said. "We are a kickback, homestyle eating place where you don't need a tie to come in and eat or a dictionary to decipher the menu."
Upon finishing the remodeling work, Pfau re-opened the Greenhouse Cafe with an abbreviated "self-serve" type menu of soups, salads and sandwiches while she put together the cafe's new full breakfast and lunch menus.
On Nov. 4, Greenhouse Cafe officially opened in its full capacity, offering downtown patrons a full-scale breakfast menu of pancakes, eggs, French toast, bacon and hashbrowns and an assortment of homemade lunch and dessert menu items like BLTs, hamburgers, patty melts, chef salads, soups, apple pie, brownies, cookies in addition to a variety of lunch baskets all which cost $8 or less.
"We've had good business so far word of mouth doesn't take long to get around," Pfau said. "We see a lot of elderly people come in due to medical visits (with doctors housed in the building) so we cater to their simple taste and budget, but we also get a lot of nurses and people from downtown that come in. We also have a lot of regulars we see every day, like women who come in for coffee and pie after church. It's kind of a social (meeting) place."
"It's truly a downtown eatery for people who live here," said Bowman.
Although the cafe is up and running, Pfau said she plans to keep the menu and atmosphere constantly evolving.
"We've tried different things with daily specials and menu items, but they didn't really work, so we're just focusing on finding out what people want," she said. "With the desserts, I didn't want the same things out all the time so we'll have something different each week and incorporate seasonal items."
In addition to the cafe's dessert menu, Pfau will also offer sweets from her other business, Candy Carousel, at the location year-round.
Aside from the revolving menu, Pfau said she is also planning to bring back the "greenhouse atmosphere" by planting greenery in and around the office building and is also planning to bring back the original components of the ice cream parlor that was part of Ward Drug.