I have 3 Roseville restaurant posts coming up — I was going to put them all into one blog entry, but this Cattle Company entry got long, so I’m splitting them up. Look for a Joe’s Crab Shack and KFAN/Grumpy’s entries coming shortly. No, this blog is not turning into a restaurant review blog. These places are either closed (Cattle Company & Joe’s) or just plain cursed (Grumpy’s location). That’s why they end up on Dumpy Strip Malls, with the unflattering snapshots, and not here with the yummy food pics.
You could say this stretch of land off of Snelling Avenue is a mini Roseville Restaurant Death Row. The Cattle Company closed up shop, and Joe’s Crab Shack wasn’t far behind. But the Olive Garden and Fuddruckers are still here…so I guess my stupid joke doesn’t really work.
I chose to photograph the Roseville spots but these upcoming restaurant posts can probably be applied to any location of these restaurants. They’re chains, for crying out loud. They’re pretty much the same wherever you go. Unfortunately, with these two restaurants, you can’t eat at them in Minnesota anymore.
Stuart Anderson’s Cattle Company closed all of its Minnesota locations in September 2004. I guess this chain wasn’t doing so hot here, so they bid our state happy trails and left a smattering of empty buildings that look like barns in its wake. Seems to be difficult fill these former Cattle Company locations — 5 years later, and many are still standing today. But don’t have a cow, man — Stuart Anderson’s is still operating in many states today, but under the name Black Angus Restaurant.
When you pull up to this place, it just makes you want to start humming “Oh I’ve got spurs that jingle, jangle, jingle…as they go ridin’ merrily along!” in a sing-song voice. The outside of this joint looks like a cowboy outpost and screams spittoons, spurs, and achy breaky boots. You almost feel like you should tie your horse up outside, walk bow-legged into the restaurant wearing a neckerchief, and light up a Marlboro. The logo even had a silhouette of Stuart Anderson himself panning for gold. (Yeah, I know. He’s cooking some concoction over a campfire, but in this economy, it’s the first thing that comes to mind — Mr. Anderson is obviously searching for a nice-sized bounty to bring into The Gold Guys).
When ‘ya get inside, you realize Stuart Anderson was just fuckin’ with ‘ya. This place was actually fairly trendy, almost a “business-romantic” atmosphere, as Michael Scott would say. Mood lighting, tabletop candles, a hostess in a little black dress, and piped-in Adult Contemporary music. What the hell is going on? Where’s the Minnesota’s Most Wanted posters on the wall? The Tim McGraw music? The howdy-do greeting by the hostess?
I can’t remember if they even had cowboy crap on the walls. I mean, they might’ve. I’m sure there was at least one wagon wheel nailed to the wall. How could they resist? You’d think I’d remember this a little better, being that I did eat here a fair share of times. All I know is that I didn’t feel like I was on the set of The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.
This was a reasonably-priced suburban steakhouse with decent food. You could always find coupons in your weekly
junkmail bundle, usually enticing you with a 3-course meal for two, for about $45. It faced competition from other mid-level steak chain places in town, namely Timberlodge with its rustic hunting cabin theme, and the Outback Steakhouse. As far as the Outback Steakhouse goes, I think I’m too dense to understand what the fuck the Australian Outback has to do with steak. When I think of the Land Down Under, I don’t think of beef. I think crocodiles, kangaroos, and the Men at Work. Not bovines. Whatever. And of course, there’s Manny’s and Murray’s — the downtown, high-end/Daddy Warbucks-genre of steakhouses with a la carte pricing that give off that traditional “old boy’s club” ambiance, if you want to shell out some dough and rub elbows with Sid Hartman.
Cattle Company was in the Twin Cities for as long as I can remember. I remember my parents getting a babysitter for us kids and going here sans offspring for a nice dinner out. Most kids really don’t like steakhouses anyway. Sirloin steak topped with shoestring onions? Warm bread and whipped butter? Loaded baked potato? Sounds good now as an adult, but most kids would prefer to eat soggy pizza at Circus Circus, doggy-paddle their way through the ball crawl, and come home with the Chicken Pox.
One of my favorite things about this place is that had HUGE, comfy, private booths in little alcoves around the restaurant. The downside to these alcoves was that booths were so high, your server would often forgot someone was sitting in the booth, resulting in very slow service. It was also really dimly lit, like an underground lair or a nightclub. Lots of steakhouses do this for some reason — I’m going here to eat my steak, not to pick up a guy. This is the Cattle Company, not Redstone!
They did have a bar area, where that sort of shit went down. I remember a friend and I coming here to sit at the bar in 2001 to watch the World Series and two different dudes bought us a round of drinks. It seems a little odd that people would come to Cattle Company to hook up with a mate. Maybe it’s all those women with cowboy fetishes, thinking they might find a Kenny Chesney look-a-like here? I feel ‘ya — I went through that cowboy thing myself…when was when I was 16. My obsession was nipped in the bud when I saw Garth Brooks without his hat on. The closest you might get to a cowboy in here is perhaps finding a deputy sitting at the bar, enjoying a cold one after a long day of rounding up some stray cows on the county road. So, girl, if you really want that cowboy, either move to Montana or just go to the Disney store and get yourself a Woody doll.
We went to the Fridley location) for my pre-Junior prom dinner back in 1996. It was either this or the Sunshine Factory because that’s just what everyone did at my high school for prom. In the north suburbs, we really didn’t have much choice back then for nearby, high-faulting dining establishments. I remember walking in here (decked out in my prom dress, flower corsage, and high heels) and making a spectacle of myself by tripping over some extension cord taped down on the floor. Fuck, it’s no wonder that after the prom, my date just wanted to “be friends.” Technically, we are still friends. On Facebook, anyway.
I never ate at the Roseville Cattle Company — I went to the Brooklyn Park and Fridley locations. I can’t recall where BP location was (might’ve been in Brooklyn Center?), but I’m sure the building is long gone. The Fridley location (off of University Avenue, in the Cub Foods parking lot) was razed a few years ago to make way for a CVS.
This disowned parcel in Roseville was supposed to be redeveloped into a grocery store in 2007. Not sure what happened to those plans, but here we are, 2 years later, with the Cattle Company eyesore still standing proud. The Minnetonka location is still unleased as well — let the cow fun live on!
Hate the Cattle Company? Miss the Cattle Company? Did you also have your prom dinner at the Cattle Company? Leave a note in the comments!
Photos taken June 2009.