Gordy's Hi-Hat: Up north pit stop carries on family tradition

The community of Cloquet in northern Minnesota is known for being the home of a gas station designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. But a building just up the road is also bringing the past into the present.

At Gordy's Hi-Hat, tradition is on the menu. The 50s-style restaurant serves up a side of nostalgia, along with its all-American fare.

Every year, Gordy's opening is a sure sign of spring. But this season is its first without a pair of familiar faces.

"It was a little bittersweet opening without them this year," said Sever Lundquist, part of the third generation of Lundquists to run the business.

Along with Lundquist's dad Dan and his brother Danny, it's a family affair keeping his grandparents' legacy alive.

"It's always been our goal to run this place in a way that they would be proud of," said Lundquist.

Gordon and Marilyn Lundquist started Gordy's Hi-Hat as a roadside diner in 1960, naming it after the big white hats chefs wear in the kitchen.

It quickly became known for its hand-pattied hamburgers, homemade onion rings, and freshly blended shakes and Lundquist says the food hasn't changed since.

Gordys Hi-Hat in Cloquet is an institution thats still family run, now going on generation number 3. (FOX 9)

"We try not to change anything because they never changed anything, you know? Worked for 65 years," said Lundquist.

Lundquist says his grandparents both worked at the burger joint well into their 90s, Gordy behind the counter and Marilyn behind the grill.

In fact, he says Gordy was such a local celebrity, that some customers didn't even notice when Oscar-winning actress and Cloquet native Jessica Lange stopped in for a bite to eat a few years back.

"She's standing at the counter, and meanwhile, my grandpa is taking orders right next to me. So I'm standing, I'm talking to Jessica Lange and people are coming up taking pictures with my grandpa Gordy, like he's some big celebrity. They don't even know that Jessica Lange is in the background of all their photos. And I'm like "But there are real celebrities right over here. This is just, you know, my grandpa who sells cheeseburgers," said Lundquist.

Lundquist says Gordy's is a popular pit stop for people from the Twin Cities on their way to their cabins on Lake Vermillion and his grandparents took pride in not only building a business, but also in building a community.

"The talking to people, getting to know their neighbors, getting to know people that were traveling through town. They did it for 65 years and they got to know thousands and thousands of people," said Lundquist

That community is getting the Lundquist family through the tough task of operating Gordy's without its founders.

Gordy passed away a couple of years ago, while Marilyn died this past December.

"It's different not having my folks around to bounce things off of you know," said Dan Lundquist.

"It would be hard if it weren't for these lasting customers that they provide for us because there are so many people that are stopping in because they know us now, and they're sharing memories of my grandparents," said Sever Lundquist.

But just like generations of families have come through the doors over the last six and a half decades, a new generation of Lundquists will carry on Gordy and Marilyn's life's work.

"We're a part of this community, and we want to be a part of that for a long time," said Danny Lundquist.

Because at Gordy's, it's not just the employees who feel like family. It's the customers too.

"Our goal is just to make sure that we maintain these relationships with customers from all around the country that have come here and hopefully build off that too," said Sever.