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Del's Cafe closes after five decades at Grand Cities Mall

Charis Brossart (center) offered to share her extra strawberry shake with fellow Del's Cafe guests Amy Robinson (left) and daughter Carrie Brossart in this 2017 photo. (Janelle Vonasek/Grand Forks Herald)

Del’s Cafe has closed after serving hungry customers at the Grand Cities Mall for nearly five decades.

The Grand Forks eatery at 1828 S. Washington St. served its final dishes this weekend before closing for good on Monday, co-owner Laura Hanson said. Tuesday was spent cleaning out the restaurant, she said.

“It’s a lot of work, and the traffic out here isn’t what it used to be,” she said of the decision to close the business. “That’s a big push there.”

Previously owned by Del Kresl, Del’s Cafe has been at the Grand Cities Mall for almost 50 years, according to Herald archives. He owned a restaurant in downtown Grand Forks before opening Del’s at the mall. Construction on the mall began in the late 1960s, making Del’s one of the oldest businesses at the shopping center.

Kresl retired nine years ago and sold Del’s to Hanson and her brother and sister, Richard and Becky. The three also own the Kegs Drive-In and the Northside Cafe in Grand Forks.

Del’s was known for its homestyle specialties that attracted a loyal following in Grand Forks. Some classics included liver and onions, meatloaf, turkey dinner and lutefisk and lefse served during the Christmas holidays, according to a 2010 article by Herald food columnist Marilyn Hagerty.

“The food is good, not fancy” she wrote. “The place is small enough, so you can catch the attention of the waitress.”

The owners considered closing the restaurant last year, Laura Hanson said. There has been little interest in someone else buying the restaurant or reopening it, she added.

The Hansons have gotten to know a lot of customers over the years. She said she noticed her customers are starting to show up more often at Northside.

“We’re going to miss them tremendously,” Laura Hanson said “They are a lot like family.”

The mall’s management is sad to see Del’s go, Grand Cities Mall manager Louis Christoffer said. The mall has been in talks with several parties to find someone to fill the space, but said he couldn’t release any information on the potential tenants.

“It’s unfortunate to see them go,” Christoffer said of Del’s. “It’s been around for a long time.”

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers crime and education. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family raises registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as a city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.

Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.

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