The Lunch Box has a long-lasting love affair with the Minnesota State Fair. The family-owned diner has been at the Fair for 56 years.

The Lunch Box opens a week early to feed State Fair preppers: the thousands of workers and employees who make the Fair run and hum. The Lunch Box is the magnet that provides the nourishment served with love.

“You should see this place at lunch hour. All the Fair preppers flock here for lunch,” said owner “Grandma” Beverly as she stirred home-made gravy.

The noon hour hit and, like magic, the preppers arrived to eat at the counter, swap stories of being on the road setting up fairs, or taking ten lunches to go.

Grandma Bev: serving love at The Lunch Box for 56 years.  Jeff Rutherford for ArtsCrawler

Grandma Bev, and husband Grandpa Lee, are–somewhat–retired now, but still arrive at the Fair at 4 a.m. to set up the diner. The next generations of the family are taking the helm now. “My grandkids can’t wait until they can see over the lunch counter because that means they can find work to do here,” said Grandma.

Granddaughter Lexa Bahr said anyone she dated would need to love The Lunch Box. It’s part of her heritage. When she met Adam Hatlestad, he knew how to win her heart–he started working at The Lunch Box. And then in 2017, Adam proposed in front of The Lunch Box. Lexa said Yes! The Lunch Box family and friends were there to cheer.

Adam knew the way to Lexa’s heart: work at The Lunch Box.  Jeff Rutherford for ArtsCrawler

Grandma greets her customers like old friends and they warmly greet her back. Butch Netterfield, owner of Netterfield’s Food Court and Popcorn Stand on Cooper Street, said Grandma Bev and Grandpa Lee have been great Fair neighbors. “14 years ago, they were the first to come over to our food court and welcome us to Minnesota,” said Netterfield.

(l) Butch Netterfield, Phil Bahr, Grandma Bev, Grandpa Lee: good Fair neighbors.  Jeff Rutherford for ArtsCrawler

A sit-down lunch counter with red vinyl stool tops, The Lunch Box also has tables on an attached patio. But people like to gather around the red stools along the lunch counter. Location: East side of Cooper St. between Wright & Dan Patch avenues, south of the Home Improvement Building. Opening at 7 a.m., The Lunch Box serves a great burger basket, Grandma’s home-made gravy on biscuits, pancakes, eggs, toast and sausage, doughnuts, and beverages. The Minnesota State Fair runs Aug. 23-Labor Day.

Family-owned. (l) Adam Hatlestad, Lexa Bahr, Lori Bahr, Phil Bahr, Grandma Bev and Grandpa Lee.  Jeff Rutherford for ArtsCrawler

The Lunch Box opens a week before the Fair to serve preppers and employees.  Jeff Rutherford for ArtsCrawler

Patrons at The Lunch Box gather on the red stools.  Jeff Rutherford for ArtsCrawler


About Barb Teed

Barb has a M.A. in Liberal Studies from Hamline University, St. Paul, Minn., a B.A. in Media Studies from New School University, NYC., and Associates of Arts degree in Anthropology from Normandale Community College, Bloomington Minn. I was born in Duluth, Minn.