You double check to see if Norm Peterson and Cliff Clavin are sitting at the bar when you first walk into Brothers Bar & Grill because it seems like the kind of place “where everybody knows your name.” It soon becomes clear that Brothers has its own regulars. One of them, 80-year-old veteran of the Korean Conflict, LeRoy Rud describes the place with these words, “It’s like coming home.”
Brothers is the kind of place where the popcorn maker is always on, the pinball machines are flanked by posters of The Three Stooges, breakfast is served seven days a week, Sundays feature NFL games, and a sixteen ounce can of Pabst Blue Ribbon costs $2.50.
This year, the family-owned bar and grill celebrates its 25th anniversary on September 16 with two local bands from 6-10 p.m.—The NeoRythms and Suite—in an outdoor tent. According to the wooden plaque behind the bar, its doors opened on July 10, 1991. The plaque hangs above a tarnished bicycle horn that gets honked for $5 tips.
Brothers’ name came from the fact it was originally owned by three brothers: Rich, Mark, and Roger Fulton. Erin Fulton now shares ownership with her son Clay and kitchen manager Roberto Padilla. She explains that Mark and Roger (owners of Mr. Pizza North and South) were silent partners while she and Rich, now retired, ran the business.
“Multi-generational family-owned is good. The younger generation, Clay, brings in ideas and events of interest to his age group, while the older generation can pass on the knowledge of years of experience,” says Erin.
“Because our name is Brothers Bar & Grill, they think we are more of a bar, when in fact our food sales are 75% of our business,” says Erin. One of her favorite dishes is chicken and biscuits covered with Hollandaise sauce.
Jenny Matthiesen, who’s worked at Brothers for 15 years, provides a mouth-watering description of how Brothers’ French toast is coated in cinnamon and powdered sugar before it’s crystallized on the grill.
Rud, playing pull tabs after a late lunch, recommended the Greek lemon soup. His feisty conversation was more peppery than his soup. Speaking of his 77-year-old lunch companion, Sharon Parker, he said, “She’s a wonderful person. She deserves me.” In response, Parker just recommended one of Brothers’ burgers “Ol’ Reliable,” while the waitress, teasing Rud, exclaimed, “You’re still alive!”
In addition to an extensive menu, Brothers has sixteen TVs, is the official headquarters for southeastern Minnesota Nebraska fans, a designation started by another regular known as “Nebraska Todd”, hosts tap takeovers, organizes an annual retro night featuring vinyl records, promotes Tuesday-night poker, presents the Rochester Caledonian Pipe Band on St. Patrick’s day, and sponsors local kickball, softball, volleyball, boot hockey, ice hockey, and basketball teams.
Erin says her business’ success comes from its customers: “My favorite thing about Brothers is the customers; I’ve gotten to know a lot of great people. The regulars are like family, that’s what makes them stand out!”