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Traditional Perham cafe to focus on its bread and butter: breakfast, lunch

The challenging economic times are not only evident on Wall Street.

Main Street America has also made adjustments to adapt to the "new economy." That is exactly the case with Perham's traditional downtown eatery: Lakes Cafe.

The announcement that Lakes will be closing for evening supper time is something of a red-letter date in a small town.

"It's partially the economy," said Rich Doll, owner of Lakes Cafe with partner Randy Mattfeld. "We don't want our loyal customers to think we're struggling, but we had to take a good look at the evening business, and the numbers just aren't there."

Eliminating the evening schedule is something Doll and Mattfeld had considered as far back as last winter. At one point, they considered closing only seasonally.

"But the thing is, sometimes the summer season can be worse, because the tourists and visitors often want to sit down and have a drink with their dinner in the evening," said Doll, noting that Lakes is a small town cafe, and has never had a liquor license.

Competition for evening diners has also increased over the years. In Perham alone, there are several establishments open for evening dinners, including Mulligan's, The Cactus, Silver Moon, Jin Hu Chinese restaurant and the Station House; as well as the Subway shop, Dairy Queen and Zorbaz.

Lakes Cafe's strongest draw is breakfast and lunch--and it is not uncommon for traditional cafes to cater to the morning and noon crowd, noted Doll.

"We just want to explain to our loyal customers that we will still be here for breakfast and lunch," said Doll.

The new schedule will be launched Nov. 2.

Formerly Strom's Cafe, Doll and Mattfeld bought the diner from Tim and Cheryl Strom.