You can’t go to dinner at Whitey’s anymore. Forget about the Windmill. Those restaurants are long gone.

Gone, too, is the Bronze Boot. Gone is the Westward Ho. Gone is the Golden Hour with Mrs. Oliver’s lutefisk.

They have been replaced by restaurants such as the Blue Moose, Sky’s, Texas Roadhouse and Toasted Frog.


In the summertime when people come back to the Forks, they remember fondly the places where they ate. There are some who still think of the pie and coffee downstairs at the former Ryan Hotel.

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For Bill Oehler, a lawyer in Rochester, Minn., a visit back home to Grand Forks this week was bittersweet. He came with Andy Finsness, who has been a hotel operator in Minneapolis. They brought their wives, and they talked of their UND days when they were waiters at Whitey’s. They couldn’t show them. They could only tell them about the place where they once worked.

People remember their favorite restaurants. There are memories of the Speedway on North 42nd Street. Some fondly remember Sanders. And there was the River Bend.

The Bronze Boot

When talk turns to restaurants, it often leads to the Bronze Boot. It was an all-time favorite at 1804 N. Washington St.. Like Whitey’s, it stood the test of time.

Meals were served by experienced waitresses. They knew the menu and how much time it took to get a steak done just right on the open pit grill in the large dining room.

There was a Chuck Wagon buffet for lunch during the week.

The Windmill

The Windmill Restaurant with its Garden Court lives on in the minds of people who enjoyed the place on South Third Street. Bob Vorachek, who was one of the owners, is still in the food service industry in Colorado Springs, Colo. He runs a restaurant for Broadmoor Resorts. And he recently shared memories of the Windmill with Mark Hadlich, a friend here in Grand Forks.

The Windmill had outdoor tables with umbrellas during the summer time. The focus was lunching alongside the Red River.

Serving tables

Though he has a long career as a lawyer, Bill Oehler says working at Whitey’s was maybe the best time he had working anywhere. He remembers the other restaurants. There was the Italian Moon and the River Queen.

His parents, Bill and Judy Oehler, now live in Naples, Florida, in retirement. His father was a Boy Scout executive.

Reach Marilyn Hagerty at or by telephone at (701) 772-1055.