Macy's has quietly closed its Lakeshore Grill restaurants at Southdale and Ridgedale.
"We thank you for your patronage through the years, and sincerely apologize for the inconvenience," reads a sign at the Ridgedale restaurant.
The permanent closings represent a genuine end-of-an-era moment in Twin Cities dining.
In-store restaurants were a brand-building tradition with the store's predecessor, Dayton's, and the legacy reaches back more than a century. While the store's name has changed a few times over the past few decades — from Dayton's (1902-2001) to Marshall Field's (2001-2006) to Macy's (2006-present) — the well-run restaurants remained a constant.
The Lakeshore Grill's lineage can be traced to the original Dayton's in downtown Minneapolis.
The store's first tearooms opened on the building's fourth floor in 1904, and by 1937 they occupied much larger seventh-floor digs.
A major postwar expansion in 1947 included three restaurants, the Oak Grill, Sky Room and Tiffin, and the store's busy dining operations catered to several thousand people a day. The Oak Grill and Skyroom (the name was tweaked in a 1987 renovation) remained popular until Macy's pulled the plug on the store in 2017.
When Dayton's expanded into the suburbs, the retailer incorporated its popular restaurant operations in those new locations.
At Southdale in Edina, the store's dining history begins with the Valley View Room, which debuted when the store opened in 1956.
In 1985, the restaurant was renamed Boundary Waters, a marketing-driven gesture that capitalized on the store's private label merchandise of the same name (remember the pre-Santabear mascot, Matthew Mallard?).
When Dayton's opened a new Southdale store in 1990 (a reaction to the threat of the nearby Mall of America), the restaurant went windowless, moving from the second floor to the basement. In 2004, the restaurant got a new name: Lakeshore Grill.
When Ridgedale opened in Minnetonka in 1974, the store's restaurant was known as the Oak Ridge Room. In 1983, the place was re-christened Boundary Waters, and by 2003, it had taken on the Lakeshore Grill imprint. In 2014, Macy's moved the restaurant to spiffy new digs, which included a rarity for a department store dining room, a patio.
Over the years, Dayton's-Marshall Field's-Macy's also operated full-service restaurants in its St. Paul (River Room and Iron Horse), Rosedale (the Bubbling Kettle), Brookdale (Brookdale Inn) and Burnsville Center (the Greenhouse) stores.
Macy's isn't saying, but presumably the coronavirus pandemic played a role in the restaurants' demise. They suffer from a double whammy, since both the restaurant industry and the department store industry are deeply impacted by the economic effects of the coronavirus.
In the Twin Cities metro area, the only department store that continues to operate full-service restaurants is Nordstrom, with its Ruscello at Ridgedale and Nordstrom Grill at the Mall of America.
Macy's is continuing to operate its counter-service Taste Bar at Ridgedale.
Like all the restaurants in the Store Formerly Known As Dayton's family, the Lakeshore Grill created memories for generations of diners not only via countless breakfasts with Santa Claus and the Easter bunny, but also through the day-in, day-out practice of serving reliable, reasonably priced Caesar salads, meatloaf with mashed potatoes, almond-crusted walleye, wild rice soup, chicken potpies, quiche and chocolate-mint ice cream pie.
And popovers, of course, the eggy, puffed-up salutation from the kitchen that will be forever associated with the restaurants.
Let's all say goodbye by baking up a batch of popovers. Naturally, the customer service-minded restaurants shared the recipe, ages ago.
Makes about a dozen.
Note: From "The Marshall Field's Cookbook" (Book Kitchen, 2006). To make whipped honey butter, whip 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature with 1 tablespoon honey.
• 5 large eggs
• 1 2/3 c. whole milk
• 5 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
• 1 2/3 c. flour
• 1/2 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat popover pans with nonstick cooking spray and heat the pans in the oven for at least 15 minutes.
In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium, beat eggs until frothy. Add milk and melted butter and mix well. Reduce speed to low, add flour and salt, and mix just to combine.
Divide the batter evenly among the preheated pans, filling each cup just under half full. Bake until puffy and well-browned, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove pans from the oven and carefully remove popovers from pans (the finished popovers should pull away from the pan easily and feel light to the touch). Serve warm, with honey butter.
Rick Nelson • @RickNelsonStrib