From cash donations, to volunteer labor, to verbal gratitude and written “thank you” notes, community members are expressing their appreciation to Rosier-Pierce for re-opening the city-owned café in Aneta, N.D.
Rosier-Pierce, with the help of her mother-in-law, Brenda Rosier-Pierce, reopened the city-owned café in late April. Both are transplants from Oregon.
The café had been closed since December after the previous manager retired from the restaurant business.
The small-town café, like many across North Dakota and Minnesota, not only is a place where customers dine, but also is a hub for social interaction. That’s why the city bought the café 20 years ago and since then has hired people to run it.
“The café means a lot to the city,” said Todd Whitman, Aneta mayor. ”Our senior citizens need a place, and we have a lot of farmers who come in and have food. It’s a really viable thing for the city.”
Brenda Rosier-Pierce, Silke Rosier-Pierce’s mother-in-law, does the cooking at the Queen City Cafe in Aneta, ND April 23, 2021. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
At 7 a.m. on a recent Tuesday morning, chairs at a corner table were filled with a half-dozen men talking about the dry planting conditions and giving each other guff.
“I come here from Sharon; Sharon doesn’t have a café, and Finley doesn’t have a café,” said Tom Klabo.
The café not only serves the breakfasts listed on the menu, but Rosier-Pierce lets the men customize their orders if they want to eat something that’s not listed.
“Everything is great,” said Keith Beaudoin.
But the café is not just about food. “Socializing is the main thing,” said Myron Ham.
Later in the day, during the noon hour, senior citizens, local business owners and residents converge over lunch, which is a daily special or one of the items on the menu.
Rosier-Pierce is open to menu suggestions and has a wooden box and paper on the counter near the till so people can give her ideas for meals, and perhaps even include a recipe.
Café ownership is giving the two Rosier-Pierces on-the-job training in cooking and management. Both have worked in the business world before they moved with their families from Oregon, but neither had experience in the food services industry.
Silke Rosier-Pierce decided to tackle running the café after being encouraged by other Aneta community members who knew she often shared dinners with an older neighbor.
“I couldn’t walk through town without someone asking me if we were going to give it a go,” Rosier-Pierce said.
She named the café “Queen City” as a nod to Aneta’s history. The town’s population, now about 225, boasted 512 residents in the 1890s. The boom town was nicknamed “Queen City of the Sheyenne,” because the Sheyenne River flows nearby.
Rosier-Pierce enlisted the help of her mother-in-law to do the cooking so she could manage the day-to-day operation of the restaurant, including greeting customers, waiting on tables and making coffee drinks.
Besides upgrading the plumbing and electrical systems to bring them up to code and painting and hanging pictures in the café, Rosier-Pierce put in an espresso machine and offers a variety of specialty and flavored coffee drinks.
Melissa Kueber ordered a coffee on her way to work at Dakota Prairie High School in McVille, N.D., about 15 miles northwest of Aneta.
“Silke has put so much life back into the café,” Kueber said. “It’s so nice to have our café back.”
Operating the café has helped the Rosier-Pierce women meet people in the community and make a difference in it.
“I feel like we’re doing something in the community,” Rosier-Pierce said.
She is overwhelmed by the response and support from community members who have volunteered their services and given them monetary donations.
“Everybody has been so extremely generous. We’ll have people leaving us $10 tips, they’re so excited seeing the café open.
“It really makes me feel very blessed. To have all of the support from everybody in the community feels really nice,” Rosier-Pierce said.
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