Town Talk Diner (Minneapolis, MN) – The Town Talk Diner has become somewhat of a legend in Minneapolis. This establishment first opened its doors in 1946 when Paul Pearson squeezed his narrow restaurant into a space that had most likely been an alley between two brick buildings (known as an “infill development”) in the Longfellow neighborhood.
Built in a style known as Streamline Moderne Architecture, an evolution of Art Deco, the façade is clad in stainless steel and dutifully supports the huge, signature sign that faces the street. Turquoise enamel panels, thirteen light boxes, and countless incandescent light bulbs come together to spell out the restaurants’ name in capital letters whose font matches the architectural style to a tea. This dramatic sign, which extends slightly wider than the storefront itself, was most likely designed to ensure that the restaurant wasn’t overlooked given its small stature.
The enterprising restaurateur figured his fancy sign would attract business from the World War II GIs who had recently been hired at the nearby Minneapolis-Moline tractor factory, but little did he know that his long, skinny diner would quickly become a short-order staple for many of the neighborhood residents.
And while Mr. Pearson was the original owner of the restaurant, he would not be the last. In 1978, sisters Barb Link and Vicki Brever took over the popular diner and made it the place to go on Saturday mornings. The shoebox-sized dining room would be packed with regulars from all walks of life enjoying the cooked-to-order homemade food. After nearly a quarter century of feeding the neighborhood, the sisters decided to close the doors in 2002.
In 2006 the Town Talk would re-open to great acclaim after sitting empty for four years, but the new owners didn’t last long. They wound up selling the diner to a local restaurant group just two years later. By 2011 and the up-and-down establishment was forced to once again shutter its doors. The latest owners attributed the closure to “declining sales” and many locals were not surprised. Ever since they took over in 2008, the quality of the food had declined while the prices went up. The local Minneapolis media reported that another major factor contributing to the diner’s demise was a $540,000 embezzlement scheme by a longtime accountant of the ownership group. It suddenly seemed reasonable to think that the diner would never open again and that the sign could be removed if the building was sold to someone with a new vision for the space.
Then, in early 2013 something rather unexpected happened. The Town Talk Diner was officially designated a historic landmark by the city of Minneapolis. This designation effectively protects the property and requires any future modifications to first be approved by both the Department of Community Planning and Economic Development and Heritage Preservation Commission. So regardless of how long the space remains unoccupied, we can count on this well preserved sign to remain part of the Minneapolis landscape.
- Vintage Signs