It’s an unassuming little place, sitting on the edge of Rosemount – but House of Coates always seems to have a unique way of drawing attention – from cars traveling on Highway 52, and, especially in recent years, from burger aficionados.
They’re coming from all over to have lunch and dinner at the House of Coates, located off Highway 52 and County Road 46 in the little town of Coates (hence, its name), which was once a Chicago Great Western Railroad station. Not surprisingly, the little “restaurant, saloon and social club” radiates a small-town atmosphere.
But looks can be deceiving, especially here. For one thing – despite appearing to sit in the middle of nowhere – House of Coates is actually not too far of a drive (about 20 miles) down Highway 52 from downtown St. Paul.
And don’t let the roadside bar look fool you. This is a family-run business that takes care of its customers like family: “We just don’t stay open to be open – we don’t want people sitting here drinking and then driving out there [on the highway],” said Kim. “We’re very family-oriented.”
In fact, owners Mike and Kim Bohn work together with their family, including Mike’s sisters and their husbands: Kathy and Steve Tarrent and Patty and Tom Engle.
“We have moms and daughters, nieces and nephews… staff are usually all related,” Kim shared.
Also – contrary to its “saloon” moniker and iconic neon “bar” and “liquor” outdoor signage that towers over the modest building – “We’re more food here, than anything else,” she emphasized. “Folks love the fish fry,” for example. Served Friday nights year-round, it’s an even bigger hit during the Lenten season. “We just start [serving it] earlier [in the evenings during the season].”
With House of Coates being more food than anything, it’s the Suwanee Burger is what everyone’s talking about – and what’s rousing them to drive past all the other restaurants in Rosemount, to the edge of town. It’s the celebrated half-pound delight which single-handedly placed House of Coates on Minnesota Monthly magazine’s “definitive, ultimate, be-all, end-all list of the greatest burgers in Minnesota” (July 2008, “Burger Kings”) and also earned accolades from the Hastings Gazette.
Ed Bohn, Mike’s father, bought the place in 1962, and Mike took ownership of it 25 years ago. Since then, it hasn’t changed much: “We never expanded,” said Mike.
So, how are they doing in this economy?
“We’ve kept it the same, and we do pretty well,” said Mike. “We work hard – we all do. We’re always here. That’s about the only way to do it. We serve a lot of good homemade food here.”
And their flavorful selection of “good, homemade food” at unbeatable prices doesn’t hurt, either. For $5.95, they’ll serve a juicy, savory half-pound burger made of fresh, lean ground beef that’s been grilled to each customer’s idea of perfection. Five unique specialty burgers come in this size. It’s pretty huge, so the menu also offers one-third pound burgers “for the more conservative eater” for under $5 (no specialty burgers in this size). Add optional fried or raw onions to any of these burgers that are “known the world over – at least, throughout the county,” they quip.
Word has certainly spread well beyond Dakota County.
“We get a lot of people from Rochester and all over,” said Mike. “The folks from Rochester – they’ve known about it [the restaurant].”
Brand-new customers TJ O’Connor and Eric Rau (whose parents are among the 168 residents living in Coates) drove to the House of Coates, all the way from Minneapolis.
“We came out for it,” said O’Connor.
“The food’s really good,” commented Rau.
Of course, O’Connor had ordered the famous Suwanee Burger: “It’s really big, and the flavor’s really intense – [especially with] the bleu cheese dressing and cheddar,” he said between bites. “The fries are salty… they have that chew to them [that I like], but they’re still crispy.”
For more information about House of Coates, call 651-437-2232 or visit them on Facebook.