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Not Justa Café expands to NR

Barb and Steve Meyer opened Not Justa Café, 850 N. Knowles Ave., in New Richmond on Nov. 5. Known for their breakfast, the café is open daily and also features a simple dinner menu.

When Steve and Barb Meyer first walked into 850 N. Knowles Ave., they knew it was something special.

"I thought, 'This is so me,'" Steve Meyer said of the former Ava's building.

When Ava's closed and the building was put up for sale, the Meyers jumped at the chance to own it and open another Not Justa Cafe.

"It was truly meant to be," Steve Meyer said. "We have stamped concrete in our house and there's stamped concrete in the entry here. At the time, I wanted to put steel siding on our house and that's what's here. It's just so us."

The Meyers first got into the restaurant business 14 years ago when Steve Meyer bought NJ Café in Bayport, Minn. on a whim.

"I actually was looking at another restaurant on the other side of town when I saw NJ Café with a little 'For Sale' sign in the window," he said.

Neither Steve nor Barb Meyer had any cooking experience when they opened, they said.

"We had a customer ask for a basted egg and we were literally looking in the Betty Crocker cookbook trying to figure it out," he said. "Barb was out back crying thinking we couldn't do this."

Fourteen years later, Not Justa Café in Bayport is packed with loyal customers. The cafe, which consists of eight booths and 14 seats at the counter, shuffles through more than 400 meals on any Saturday, Steve Meyer said.

"It's small, but it's a busy place," he said.

The New Richmond location is well on its way to getting there as well, Barb Meyer said.

"We didn't advertise we were open or anything," she said. "We just flipped on the 'Open' sign and people have been coming in ever since."

The New Richmond location is about four times the size of the Bayport café, they said.

"We didn't really know what to expect, but people have been really great," Steve Meyer said.

The Somerset natives said they've been really surprised to see some of their regular Bayport customers in the New Richmond café.

"I'll see them here and tell them that it was really great to see them, but that they didn't need to come all the way over here and they say 'Steve, we live in New Richmond,'" Steve Meyer said. "They had been driving all the way (to Bayport) every day. Who does that?"

The menu at Not Justa Café is simple, featuring home cooked meals like pork chops, meatloaf, liver and onions. Not Justa Café also serves homemade soup and desserts.

"Our thing is really breakfast," they said.

The Meyers said their goal is to stay as "old fashioned" as possible.

"We're a Ma and Pa-type place," Steve Meyer said.

Signs with funny sayings adorn the walls and the food is served on mismatched dishes, plates the Meyers have collected since opening in Bayport 14 years ago.

"When we opened we didn't have enough plates," Steve Meyer said with a laugh. "We used to ask people to bring their own and we've just accumulated a lot of different ones over time."

Today, customers still bring plates and signs with funny sayings into the café, Barb Meyer said.

"They bring them back from trips they went on," she said.

Steve and Barb Meyer said they plan to host a customer appreciation event this weekend by offering free coffee to their customers.

Not Justa Café is open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. and on Sunday from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. For more information, call 715-246-7711.