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Malts and more at Chaska diner

By Janet Kubat Willette
jkubat@agrinews.com

Date Modified: 08/15/2013 12:40 PM

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CHASKA, Minn. — Everyone comes to Tommy's Old Fashioned Malt Shop for the malts, but most diners don't settle for just a malt.

Instead, they add a burger, soup or salad.

The slogan at Tommy's is "making classic food great again." Their logo is their name around a Model A. T-shirts and onesies with the logo are for sale at the diner and a fair amount of people purchase them, said owner Brett Geselle.

Geselle grew up in Eden Prairie and worked at Snuffy's Malt Shop in Roseville as a youth. He left food service and worked in the corporate world for a while. It didn't suit him. He missed interacting with people, and he wanted to be his own boss.

He sought counsel from close friends who owned their own restaurants, and they encouraged him to open his own place.

In November 2009, he opened his diner in downtown Chaska. It's named for his father, Tom. In the previous four years, there were four different restaurants at the location, Geselle said. They've been able to make it work for close to four years.

You have to have a heart for customers and enjoy creating stuff to be successful in the restaurant business, he said.

"I enjoy just the atmosphere, the people; I enjoy having the staff around," Geselle said.

The diner is located on Highway 41, the main road running north and south through Chaska. It is connected to the Best Western.

Tommy's has seating for 78 on the inside and 24 on the patio.

Tommy's Malt Shop has a standard Tuesday through Friday lunch special. It's a $6 Old Fashioned Burger Combo or the choice of two of the following for $5.25: Cup of soup, small salad or half sandwich.

Tuesday night is Kids' Night from 4 to 9 p.m. Kid's meals and malts are $2.

While Tommy's is known for its burgers and malts, its soups also are popular. Cheesy Chicken Tortilla was the featured soup one recent day, and Uncle Dave's Killer Chili is often requested. The hot chili is made at the diner. It was toned down to meet local tastes, but can be heated up at customer request, Geselle said. A bowl of chili sells for $5.45.

The classic comfort food of grilled cheese and tomato soup is on the menu every day. Other customer favorites are sweet potato fries and the "Lucy" sandwiches.

They offer three different Lucys: Tommy's, which is an eight ounce burger stuffed with American cheese and served with pickles and topped with fried red onions. The Gouda Lucy is a half-pound hamburger stuffed with Smoked Gouda cheese and topped with lettuce and tomato. The Smoky Lucy is an eight ounce burger stuffed with jalapenos and Pepper Jack cheeses and topped with onion rings and chipotle mayonnaise. They sell for $9.05 to $9.65 and come with house fries.

Tommy's customers not only eat their way through a lot of cheese, they consume a lot of premium hard-scoop ice cream. The Carver County ADA has recognized the diner for its use of dairy products with the Golden Butter Knife Award.

In the spring and fall, Tommy's does a brisk take-out business. Farmers will stop for lunch or supper on-the-go while working in the fields.

Geselle recently opened a second location in Savage.