THE EATBEAT: Aneta Cafe: ‘For people who appreciate good food’The harvest is on and many farm workers in this area 60 miles west of Grand Forks count on Terri Eckert to help them. She operates the city-owned cafe for this town of about 220. And she puts up orders for the harvesters, who send someone in from the fields to pick up their food.
By: Marilyn Hagerty, Grand Forks Herald
ANETA, N.D. —- The harvest is on and many farm workers in this area 60 miles west of Grand Forks count on Terri Eckert to help them. She operates the city-owned cafe for this town of about 220. And she puts up orders for the harvesters, who send someone in from the fields to pick up their food.
Often, 15 to 36 meals a night go out, although the small cafe itself is closed at 2 p.m., after the lunch rush.
But the stream of hot dishes, meat and potatoes, baked chicken and the Aneta version of sub sandwiches will keep flowing until the last of the crops are harvested this fall.
For Terri Eckert, the day begins bright and early. Seven days a week. She’s a perky, 58-year-old woman, who keeps up a running chatter with the early morning coffee drinkers. She’s been running the city-owned cafe for seven years, and she depends on her son, Nick, as her sidekick. Her husband, Gary, works in nearby Lakota, N.D.
A day at the Aneta Cafe begins with eight coffee drinkers, who find their places around a table. They drink coffee for $1 with free refills. As the morning wears on, the cafe gears up to serve a mid-day meal to the elderly of the community. The meals are provided through the Older Americans Act food program for a suggested donation of $4.25, although full cost of the meal of $7.25 is encouraged. An average of 15 to 26 seniors from Nelson County show up each weekday.
The menu plan for the day I visited called for a hot turkey sandwich with potato and gravy, sweet potato, sauce, a banana and a cookie. On Thursday, it’s pork roast with baked potato, carrots, a pineapple ring and blueberry pie with topping.
There was a golf cart parked in front of the White Tail Bar on a recent Saturday afternoon when I found the cafe nearby on Aneta’s quiet main street. Terri was closing up for the day and also had her golf cart out in front.
“I use it to get around in town,” she said. “It’s cheaper than driving the pickup.”
With a friend, I sat down and ordered a reuben sandwich that came on a very nice, dark, rye bread and chatted with Eckert. She closes at 2 p.m., every day so she and her son can clean, bake and prepare salads. She’s open Sundays to accommodate the rush after church services.
Eckert wants her food to taste good. She says, “I want to cook for people who appreciate good food.”
She makes monster cookies. She is working on a new pirogues hot dish.
The cafe itself is freshly painted in white and tones of brown. There are long, white curtains on the windows. And there are artistic wall hangings. Even the rest room is touched with pleasing decor rarely found in small-town restaurants.
The Aneta Booster Club lends a hand when the cafe needs help.
310 Main Avenue, W., Aneta, N.D.
Hours: 4:30 to 5 a.m.; closing 2 p.m. every day
Telephone: (701) 326-4148
Report card: The food and decor are over and above what would be expected in a town of about 200. And it’s open Sundays, but you have to get there before 2 p.m., when it closes. The place is a boon for harvesters who order ahead and pick up food to take to the fields.
Reach Hagerty at firstname.lastname@example.org or (701) 772-1055.