Lunchtime Tourist: The Bandbox Diner

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May 14, 2002 // UPDATED 1:20 pm - April 30, 2007
By: Linda S. Koutsky
Linda S. Koutsky

Diners are a beloved part of American culture. They're seen in television shows, featured in movies, and portrayed with warm, glowing light in nostalgic paintings. We've got an old classic right here in Downtown where you can get a pretty mean burger, too.

The evolution of the roadside diner began in 1873 when an entrepreneur modified his horse-drawn freight wagon by adding windows through which he could serve food. Lunch wagons soon became prevalent fixtures roaming the cities with hot meals day and night. Eventually they took up permanent residence and covered up their wheels. After World War I, prefabricated diners exploded into popular culture. Buildings could be ordered complete from the factory and plopped down on a foundation. The Band Box was ordered from an Iowa company that also made banks and gas stations.

In 1934, when the Band Box began serving residents of the Elliot Park neighborhood, Minneapolis still had cobblestone streets and the Foshay Tower was only five years old. If you're a Band Box regular --70 percent of their business -- you waltz into the red-and-white-themed diner and sit at one of the five counter stools overlooking the sizzling grill to chat with the cook. It's a crowded place with just enough room left over for four small tables. On nice days there's outdoor seating on the patio, too. In classic diner tradition, the Band Box serves breakfast all day long.

Though the Minneapolis franchise numbered 14 at one time, this is the sole survivor.

The new owner takes pride in the diner's history and is hoping to expand just a little so more people can enjoy this slice of Americana. For a fun lunch hour this is a great destination. And it's only ten blocks from the IDS Center--just long enough to walk off your french fries!

The Band Box is located at 729 S. 10th St., just east of Park Avenue.

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LUNCH TIP: Go with the most popular menu item --the "B" breakfast served with their nearly famous American potatoes.