SHERBURN - Since the Lintelmans took over the Cup N' Saucer Cafe in Sherburn in an unconventional manner, it only makes sense that they continue with a unique approach. One that is proving successful.
"It's been a lot of fun, and a lot of learns," said Elizabeth Lintelman, who along with her husband, Seth, won the cafe through a contest sponsored by the Martin County Economic Development Authority, which had hopes of keeping the cafe open.
At the time, Seth Lintelman was a sous chef in the Twin Cities while Elizabeth had years of experience in restaurant management. With Seth originally from Fairmont and the couple looking forward to small town life, it was a perfect fit.
Seth Lintelman shows one of his prepared dishes — a roasted pork loin with vegetables Parmesan Rosana and ale mustard apples — at the Cup N’ Saucer cafe in Sherburn. Lintelman’s creative gourmet-style dishes have made the cafe a regional favorite.
Not only has the cafe remained open, it has developed a fan base that draws customers from throughout the region.
"We've had people from Fairmont, Windom, even the Cities, come down just to visit us," Elizabeth said.
When the Lintelmans took over, their goals were to establish local connections with businesses and the community.
The couple also has tried to keep much of what they serve local. In the summer and fall, fresh produce comes from local gardeners and farm shares. Most of the meat comes from Welcome Meats.
Part of Cup N' Saucer's success has to do with Seth's culinary skills. Each breakfast and lunch has a special of the day with a different twist.
"I do the best I can to expand everyone's pallet, make them realize there's something out there other than hamburgers," he says. "There are things growing in their back yard and there are different things we can do with them."
"We learned there is a demand for the food and product we are producing," Elizabeth added.
To showcase more of Seth's creative gourmet dishes, the cafe has started offering a special five-course tasting menu on a once-a-month basis.
"We just put it out there on our Facebook page to see if there was an interest and in two days it was full," Elizabeth said. "Ever since then, it's been booked. We have limited seating for it, up to 30 people, and we're booked through July right now. But it's a unique personalized dining experience, and they just keep coming back."
The special tastings also have played a role in private parties, and have given the Lintelmans another opportunity to support local producers of a different type.
"We have our 3.2 beer license and wine license, and the city just approved our strong beer license," Elizabeth said. "We wanted to feature some of the local and regional craft brews, but the craft brews are stronger than 3.2 beer. We're more focused on the beer and wines that go with the dishes on tasting nights. Now we're just waiting on the state."
Seth's culinary craft also gained attention on a regional level when he won the People's Choice soup award from the Minnesota Valley Action Council's second annual "Warm Your Heart" Gourmet Soup Event, where he competed against 17 other restaurants in the nine counties of south-central Minnesota. Seth won with a parsnip bisque with blood orange reduction and parsley oil.
The couple still has goals for the future, but realize there are more hurdles to get there.
"We're a small business, so we're always careful about how far we go," Elizabeth said. "We can't expand ourselves too much; we need to know we can produce the quality."
"I've been hesitant to do anything off-premises, because I'm never 100 percent sure it will be up to standards," Seth added. "Our reputation is on the line and we're not willing to sacrifice that just to make a dollar."
The Lintelmans would eventually like to be open in the evenings for dinner, but would need to hire an additional cook.
"It would need to be someone who has the same dedication," Seth said. "But that's a bridge to cross when we get to it."
"We're still learning the solidarity of the business," Elizabeth said. "Summer was great, but in February it was really slow. Next year, it could be a mild winter and we'll be busy all year long."
The Cup N' Saucer is open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday. For more information, contact the Cup N' Saucer at (507) 764-6721.