ND town savors rebirth of old cafeNEW LEIPZIG, N.D. – The liveliest place on New Leipzig’s main street is one that stood empty for far too long.
By: Lauren Donovan, The Bismarck Tribune, INFORUM
NEW LEIPZIG, N.D. – The liveliest place on New Leipzig’s main street is one that stood empty for far too long.
Ten women recently gathered around a table at the Leipziger Cafe drinking iced tea and giving in to a lemon bar sprinkled with powdered sugar and/or a Mississippi mud bar with a gooey chocolate marshmallow center arranged on plates in the middle of the table.
Their chatter and laughter brightened up the place and spoke of long familiarity. In fact, they find it hard to decide just how long they have known each other – pretty much all their lives, they figure.
For a few minutes, the group of them wandered down memory lane, recalling the various personalities associated with the old Leipziger Hof, when entrepreneurs from Germany tried their hand at running the place as an outpost of genuine sauerkraut cuisine from the old country.
The idea made their small town of immigrant Germans and Germans from Russia famous and it worked for years, until it didn’t anymore. The last of those imported entrepreneurs turned off the lights eight years ago.
Then, Cheri and Dave Greger, relative newcomers from central Oregon, decided to turn the lights back on.
Along with the lights, they turned on a coffee bar with fresh roasted and ground coffee. They turned on the fryer for homemade fresh-daily cake and raised-yeast doughnuts, and they turned on the grill for scrambling eggs and making breakfast burritos.
They purchased the building in November and started cleaning and refurbishing in March.
Cheri Greger said they cleaned grime and grease, cleaned and cleaned some more. They tore out old plumbing and replaced most of the kitchen equipment. They pulled up old flooring down to the subfloor and put down fresh tile.
With clean walls, floors and a coat of fresh paint everywhere, the coffee bar was ready at the end of May, and the cafe wasn’t too far behind.
“Here we are, in a place that’s comfortable. People have got to have something in town,” said Cheri Greger.
Greger isn’t German, but she’s got the same work ethic, up at 4 a.m. to start the doughnut batter and staying on her feet until it’s time to close the doors at 1:30 p.m.
The Leipziger Cafe is open from 6:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and serves bakery goods, coffee and a hearty breakfast menu only. It makes a nice stop for guys heading out to the fields, or Lake Tschida-bound fishermen who want a bite of the real thing before going in search of the more elusive bite.
The cafe also offers wireless Internet and a Verizon cell service booster.
This was supposed to be the Gregers’ retirement, a state of life she finds is vastly overrated.
“So far, so good,” she said of the cafe. “It’s been quite a challenge. We don’t have a cafe background, but it was something we just always wanted to do. It’s a way to do something and give back to the community.”
The women at the table are pleased to be on the receiving end. Until now, they’d gathered at a table in front of the window of the Star Grocery across the street.
Ethel Davenport said she was surprised the Gregers were brave enough to buy the building.
“I’m surprised and grateful,” she said.
Marianne Achtenberg said she’s thankful that Cheri Greger speaks English.
“When the Germans were here, I was a translator for them for I don’t know how many weeks,” she said.
Some days, the women’s group takes up two tables in the cafe, and Greger said she’s pleased to have them come by.
They come for the special companionship that comes from being among the oldest and dearest of friends.
“Everybody grew up here and we raised all our children here,” Achtenberg says.
As an added attraction, the doughnuts are a daily sell-out, much to Greger’s amazement.
One thing is for sure: “We don’t weigh ourselves anymore,” Achtenberg said.