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Tuitti Fruitti cafe uses their homegrown vegetables in the homemade delights

By Carol Stender

Date Modified: 07/15/2013 9:56 AM

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SAUK CENTRE, Minn. — Kevin and Marlene Gwost not only sell their Tuitti Fruitti Market Farm vegetables through the Sauk Centre farm's self-serve stand, they also use homegrown produce to make meals served at the on-farm cafe.

Half of the produce is sold to the public, and the remainder is used at Marlene's Tuitti Fruitti Kitchen. Vegetables that aren't used fresh are frozen and used throughout the year. Root vegetables are stored in a climate-controlled cooler.

The couple also produce eggs from their flock, meat from their cattle and beef raised on a neighboring farm.

The cafe features a screened-in porch that offers customers a view of the farm. Marlene has decorated the restaurant with a country feel.

The cafe offers many locally produced items like Sauk Centre-produced RCC honey and maple syrup from Albany.

Listen closely, and sometime in the late morning customers can hear the rooster crow.

"I don't know why he does that at that time, but he does his crowing," she said. "We've had customers wonder if some of the knick knacks have been set off, but it's actually a real chicken crowing in the yard."

Customers are encouraged to walk to the nearby barn to see the farm's 15 acres of vegetables and three acres of strawberries. A burro, ponies and goats frolic in outdoor pens.

The key to the cafe's success is Marlene's skill at preparing meals from scratch. She uses many of her mom's recipes. The breads, Danish pastries and caramel and cinnamon rolls also are homemade.

A breakfast favorite is the Farmhouse with hashbrowns, eggs, choice of ham, bacon or sausage and toast.

The Hee Haw Sandwich includes two eggs, slices of white cheese and yellow cheese with a choice of meat on focaccia bread. The sandwich sells for $4.25.

The cafe serves up regular specials. The meals are offered through the cafe's buffet.

Tater tot hot dish and beef roast dinners are offered on Tuesdays. Wednesdays feature baked chicken and fajitas, Thursday is a meatloaf dinner and enchiladas and Friday is an all-you-can-eat taco bar and roast beef commercial.

Saturday's meal is a breakfast buffet that includes sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, biscuits and gravy, fruit and caramel rolls, plus pancakes and French toast.

The cafe also sells pies, whole or by the slice, as well as pot pies. The large pot pies easily can feed four people and come with a small loaf of bread.

The couple hadn't intended to start a cafe. They worked for Stearns County and raised and sold vegetables. They started selling from a picnic table under a tent.

When they built a structure with a garage door, the Gwosts intended it to be where they would gather vegetables for sale. But Kevin thought there was a need for someone to work with the produce full time. Marlene thought they would need some income during winter. They put in a bakery in the new building and started selling soup and sandwiches.

"I thought we'd be okay if we could fill a row of three tables," she said.

And they did.

She decided to put in another row of tables and those filled with customers, too. They opened the full service cafe in 2012 and doubled vegetable production.

Tuitti Fruitti Farm Market hosts pumpkin days on the last Saturday in September and first two Saturdays in October. During the celebrations, Marlene takes out her concertina and the kids join in for dances.

The family also has a band called The Nite Owls.

Of their five children, three daughters work in the cafe, Marlene said.