By Mindy Mateuszczyk, Pressnews
“Baseball and apple pie, what’s more American than that?” asks George Atsidakos, owner of the Cottage Grill in Rogers. This classic phrase is what Atsidakos was banking on when he pitched his restaurant’s signature dish, the Minneapple Pie, to Target Field administrators.
According to Atsidakos, they loved the idea, and now Rogers residents can taste a little slice of their hometown when they hit the ball field to see the Twins play. The Minneapple Pie can be found at the State Fair Stand at Target Field.
In 2008 Atsidakos and his sister Joanne Schlavin stepped in to help their parents, Andy and Libby Atsidakos, open Cottage Grill in Rogers. The family has a history in the restaurant business. When George’s father emigrated from Greece to Minneapolis in 1966, he worked in his uncle’s Dinkytown restaurant, Peter’s Grill, known as the oldest continuously operating restaurant in Minneapolis. Later George moved to Crystal Steakhouse, where he met his future wife, Libby.
Soon into their new venture in Rogers, the Atsidakos family began tossing around ideas of taking a food item around to the county and town fairs. They wanted to bring their apple pie but with a twist.
“We thought about deep frying since we were going to bring it to fairs,” George said. Schlavin began experimenting with her dad’s 95-year-old family apple pie recipe. George said his parents were skeptical about the idea, at first.
“We spent the next nine months every day working on it through trial and error,” George said. One thing they were focused on is perfecting a flaky crust. They finally arrived at just the right combination and the Minneapple Pie was born.
“The name comes from it being a scaled down, individual serving of pie – you know, mini – and from Minneapolis,” said George. “It’s a tribute to when my dad first emigrated here and worked as a baker.”
In 2009 the Atsidakos family hit the fair circuit with their edible masterpiece. Their tour included Owatanna, Dakota and Alexandria. The Minneapple Pie gained notoriety as it earned a People’s Choice award and two Owner’s awards.
All of this success spurred the Atsidakos family to give their restaurant in Rogers a makeover. Cottage Grill will close its doors for one week to undergo a remodel Friday, April 23 at 2 p.m. They will reopen Friday, April 29 with a new look under the name, “Minne’s Diner.” George believes the new name will connect the restaurant to their successful dessert. They are changing the interior to a modern diner theme that Atsidakos hopes will better reflect the quality of food they serve.
“We serve the highest quality steaks and prime rib our suppliers offer,” he said. “Right now, when people walk in here they don’t expect the kind of food we serve. We want to marry our look with the quality and kind of food we serve.”
The menu will remain largely the same, although Libby thinks they might add a few new items here and there. It consists primarily of home cooking American fare, including Minnesotan specialties such as walleye. However, as a nod to the family’s heritage, there are some Greek dishes on the menu such as gyros and souvlaki. One thing’s for certain, with its deep-fried, fresh apples sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar goodness, the Minneapple Pie will remain on the menu.