Couple’s cafe a risk worth taking

Cheryl and Steve Nagel bought the vacant building in Brownsdale that is now the Langtry Cafe. They opened for business Feb. 28. -- Matt Peterson/

Steve and Cheryl Nagel would be lying if they said they didn’t take a risk by opening their new business. Their restaurant, Langtry Cafe, opened its doors Feb. 28, amidst the demise of several Brownsdale businesses in the past few years.

But Steve, who has worked in the food industry most of his life, wasn’t worried.

“It’s always been Steve’s dream to have a restaurant out here somewhere,” Cheryl said.

Steve, who grew up in Rose Creek, felt a sense of security with the small-town venture after living near the Twin Cities for years. With his experience in the industry and his time in a big city, he saw an opportunity where he wouldn’t have to play cut-throat business. He could also do things his own way.

But one could say the Nagels’ road has been filled with irony. When they saw an article in the Austin Daily Herald about small-town businesses crumbling, they boldly chose one of those former businesses as their location.

The building, formerly Route 56 Cafe, went through a complete transformation after the Nagels’ purchased it. They are in the quintessential small-town setting, and they chose an atmosphere that has suited locals.

On one end, the business has some southwest decor topped off by an old gun hanging from a sign that reads “Langtry Gunsmithing.” On the other, it has leather couches, a television and an old collection of Tonka trucks and tractors that are suitable for Brownsdale. Locals can also meet in a large, private room, divided by French doors.

But Langtry also has a metropolitan feel. Steve and Cheryl enjoyed going out for coffee when they lived in Plymouth, Minn., so they incorporated that.

Their logo features a hot pot of coffee, and they offer the space and atmosphere that feels like a coffee shop. To Steve, the atmosphere is the most important part.

“The farmers can get off the tractor and come in here, and the red-hat ladies can come in, too,” he said.

But the Nagels haven’t forgotten about the food, either. The menu is just two pages, but it’s derived from some of Steve’s favorites, like French dips and Reubens. Almost everything is homemade, and Langtry offers breakfast through the lunch hours.

“Virtually everything is, or will be homemade,” Cheryl said.

Perhaps the biggest change for the Nagels, however, is their lifestyle. By moving to Brownsdale and running a business, they now feel like they are needed.

“There’s a certain aspect of it where you really feel like you belong to the community,” Steve said.

Cheryl mentioned a satisfied customer who said she now visits with people she hasn’t seen in years because of the cafe.

Although Langtry has only been open for two months, the Nagels are confident. They are open Tuesday through Sunday for breakfast and lunch. However, once they obtain a liquor license, they plan to open for weekend nights and offer barbecue ribs and other popular items.

The Nagels now have several waitresses, are staying busy, and just hired a cook, too.

More than anything, they want to offer some solace to the town that has lost so many businesses.

“These little towns are taking a heck of a beating,” Steve said. “In a community like this, you’re not going to get another grocery store back.”

The town can expect the Nagels to stay, though. Steve is glad to be in Brownsdale and said he has no desire to go back to the big-city life.

“I have no time for Minneapolis,” he said. “I grew up picking rock in Rose Creek, so I’ve come full circle.”

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