Northfield’s legendary Quarterback Club’s breakfast menu was not taken from this world in one fell swoop. A series of unfortunate, compounding events concussed the local, family-owned restaurant’s breakfast operations and have ushered forth a new age, one in which the day will no longer begin at 6:00 a.m.
The Quarterback Club, a beloved Northfield diner situated on West 3rd Street and Highway 19, will be ending its breakfast offerings after fifty years of service. The restaurant will remain in business, but doors will now open at 10 a.m. rather than 6 a.m., ending a wonderful lineage of pancakes, hash browns, fried eggs and piping hot coffee.
“The Quarterback Club will be serving its last breakfast on Friday, May 27,” reads a sign at the front counter. “It’s been a very hard decision for me to make. Current employment conditions are the main reason for my decision and I hope you understand. I want to thank all of you for making the QB breakfast your breakfast of choice for all these years.”
“Breakfast opened back in 1973; my husband was the cook for years, but he went on medical leave last September, so the boss has had to cook since then,” explained Lori, a QBC employee. “My husband decided he wasn’t going to come back, so that’s the reason for closing breakfast. To find someone to come in five days a week at 4:30 in the morning is pretty difficult. It’s the end of the era for us, and it’s kind of sad.”
This is not the first QBC breakfast gently lulled to sleep by the gentle night. The restaurant opened Northfield in 1967, as a member of a franchise owned by a group of Minnesota Vikings players. At the time, the restaurants featured a distinctive half-dome in the form of a football atop. However, in just about 10 years, every other location shuttered its doors for a final time, only Northfield’s location remained left standing.
Carleton student Mickey Walsh ’22 mourned the loss as he sipped his third bottomless coffee refill, “I’m sad because it’s a long line of QBC closures that have vanished from the rural Minnesota landscape over the years. I don’t know what I’m going to do without this cultural institution to undergird my breakfast desires.”
The chain was opened to serve college towns affordable, high quality food. Carleton students for the past couple generations have refreshed themselves behind the tall glass window panes separating them from the noise and noxious fumes of the highway. Attending QBC for breakfast has become a ritualized pilgrimage for many students.
“I’m going to miss the memories I’ve made with great friends, the memories I’ve made with new friends and the pancakes” said Adam Nakasaka ’22 as he looked across to a table of his graduating friends.
Henry Koheling ’22 expressed a similar, although differently pointed, sentiment: “The coffee is great. And the friends. I’m really going to miss the coffee.”
The coffee is weak, best taken black, and served in white mugs perfectly fitted to hands not entirely awakened for the day’s labors and studies. Several cups are needed for most students to find the buzz they will need to carry them out QBC’s doors, and back to their campus.
Although Carleton students have celebrated, fought and studied in QBC over the years, it is the Northfield regulars who most effervescently extol memories of QBC breakfast.
Regular Sandy Murkowski told us as we finished our meal, “We’ve been coming here for a long time for the biscuits and gravy, almost every Thursday for almost a decade; it’s really sad we won’t be able to anymore.”
“This is the worst thing to happen to the city of Northfield in a long time,” extolled QBC regular Marty Johnson.
As memories rushed back to him of time spent in QBC, Tyrone Quigley ‘22 reflected, “I’ll miss the 86-cent donuts, but on second thought, they might still have those later in the day.”
Memories exist in time and also in space. It may be the remaining signifiers of QBC breakfasts that return us to our recollections of breakfasts past throughout the years, reminding us of good times with good friends, some from whom we will certainly have become estranged. In a small town such as Northfield, local businesses provide a great deal of the town’s milieus.
“Breakfast at the QBC is really a huge thing in Northfield,” articulated another QBC regular. “It’s the end of an era.”