Black Forest Inn, Minneapolis MN

Memories of The Black Forest Inn

Did someone first come here with your German class?
Do you celebrate your birthday here every year? Did you go on a blind date here?

Here are some of the stories we've collected from our friends and customers
who have shared their memories of the Black Forest with us!

"In 1996, unknown to me at the time, the story of my family began. I went on a date with a man named Scott to the Black Forest. A year later, on Valentines Day 1997, we dined again at what had become our special spot. At the end of the usual dinner of Sauerbrauten and Hacker Pschorr Dark, he proposed. It's April of 2009, and we just arrived home from the Black Forest. Grandma watched our kids, and we ditched a Wild game to enjoy some peace and quiet once again - at our special spot."
~ Gina J.

"Went to work as a dishwasher on call @ BFI in summer 1979, during summer break from college in the Northwest. I ended up staying for several years, working for Erich Christ, as a kitchen assistant, janitor, and even maintenance person at times at the owners home (along with other employees). I left for a time then returned, always loving the family ambience and the fact that all of us who worked for Erich were treated very much like his own, while learning valuable trades and skills. I eventually left Mpls. and do miss it, and the great times I had there-only to be utilizing much of what I learned at the BFI, each day at my cooking tasks here. I now work at one of the Fraser Valley's premier hotspots for food and great entertainment, in the heart of the rocky mountains."
~ Rowland S.

"I worked at the BFI from April 1971 to the middle of December 1971. At that time a whole crowd of Carlton Grads were working there. Everyone was a family member and we played cards late at night at the Christ home, paddled the canoe in Lake of the Isles and all worked together. When the remaining Doors came to play in Mpls. Bruce the bartender brought in a door with Jim Morrison's name on it and sat it next to Ray Manzarek at his table. I left to go to Mexico, where I built a home, and they sent me off with a wonderful party, great food and fantastic music. I danced the whole night and I still think of it as a highlight of my early life in Minneapolis. I still make spaetzel and apple strudel like Erich taught me."
~ Mary H.

"This was my first restaurant job and I have great memories, late night cribbage games, dating the gorgeous waitresses, chucking oysters and drinking Heineken while prepping for the employees New Years Eve party . . . it's been a long, long time."
~ Charles F.

"We re-located from North Dakota to the Twin Cities four years ago and are still frequent visitors to the Black Forest. However since the early '70s, on our many trips to Minneapolis we always made the Black Forest one of our stops. About 20 years ago our son, who was about 3 at the time, went with us and had to be raised to the table using a booster chair in addition to something else underneath it. He decided he wanted a salad - that's all - a request he never made before. Halfway through the meal he tumbled to the floor taking the lettuce with him. The place was filled to capacity, and as he let out a scream the din fell to total silence. No harm done, he settled down and was provided another complimentary salad."
~ Bruce C.

"Mom and Dad met in 1946 at the Black Forest, when it had a different name [Nellie Steven's Café - ed.]. Mom lived in a rooming house, as many single people did back then, so she would have breakfast at the restaurant counter. She met Dad there, and he offered her a ride to work. They fell in love and got married.
Over the years, they continued to enjoy dining at the Black Forest. In the sunset of his life, Dad had difficulty swallowing as a result of Alzheimer's. However, he could still drink liquids. He really enjoyed having a cocktail at the Black Forest, where he would sit outside. Eventually, Mom became frail and lived in a nursing home. In poor health one of her few joys was going to the Black Forest in her wheelchair. They are both gone now, but Kay and I continue the tradition."
~ Judy J. & Kay M.

"Way way back in 1965 I was in the 26th and Nic. area looking for a store when I spotted this restaurant. I went in and to eat only to find out that this was their first day being open. I guess I was one of the first customers of the Black Forest. My daughter grew up on your food and today I am coming back with my Granddaughter. Maybe this will start be the start of the third generation in our family who have enjoyed your place. Thanks for the memories and thanks for the GOOD FOOD"
~ Thomas H.

"Three of us girlfriends bake entries for the Minnesota State Fair and drive to St. Paul from our homes in central Minnesota to deliver our baked goods on entry day, usually the third Sunday in August. After getting our baked goods officially entered at the fair, we drive over to the Black Forest Inn for a relaxing lunch to celebrate having made it through all the baking, packaging and driving involved in the State Fair entry process. The Black Forest Inn is a natural choice since all of us are of German descent and like German food. In fact, we like it so much we started an annual Oktoberfest at the home of one of our trio! The Black Forest Inn food is fantastic, the service great and the ambience in the courtyard on a summer day just what three tired bakers need. Thanks for showing us great hospitality almost every state fair entry day since 1994!"
~ Candy, Jean and Lois

"When I was enrolled at Minneapolis School of Art and Design, in 1965, the first fresco like painting was commissioned on the side of the restaurant on Nicollet where I caught the bus. It was a great inspiration to me over the years, a touchstone of the familiar urban scene that made me a true Minneapolis Native! The wienerschnitl is always a favorite of ours. Lunch on the veranda is a meeting place for those important artful meetings I still have."
~ Suzi M.

"I came here regularly from 1981 1983 and reasonably frequently from 1984 1988. In 1992 I brought my then girlfriend here for her birthday. We recently celebrated our 14 anniversary. All my memories of the Black Forest are extremely favorable and positive the food has always been fabulous! Here's to 40 more fantastic years!
One story: Two friends of mine & myself left here on a January night in 1982. One of my compatriots had perhaps imbibed in an extra alcoholic beverage or two, courtesy of the Black Forest Inn's bartender. Upon leaving we discreetly tied his shoestrings together, then faked a car accident. Upon reaching home, our inebriated compatriot hopped up three flights of stairs and down the hall & into our apartment, where we had poured ketchup on my leg. He was, the next morning, hung over and not in the least amused at our antics."
~ Dave T.

"Having worked at the Black for 12 years during the Pleistocene Era, the memories are legion. However, since I just attended a Ray Davies concert at 1st Ave. this week, an odd one presents itself. As I recall, it was a bitterly cold evening in late 1969 or early 1970. I may have been the only patron at the bar, nursing the standard liter of Grain Belt. The bartender was probably the young John-John. Just then, local music legend Danny Stevens appeared through the door on a gust of icy wind, flanked by 2 long-haired and non-indigenous type fellows. Mr. Stevens approached me, and gestured toward the 2 strangers. "These guys are 2 of the Kinks," he said, his voice lowered so as not to attract attention from the 3 or 4 other people in the joint. "They just played a gig and are looking for a party. Know of anything going on?" Sadly, I was unable to accommodate the gents; as I recall, it wasn't even a weekend. The trio left with no further ado. I knew I had stood 6-8 feet from the now legendary Davies brothers, but was too detached at the time to offer a pint to a couple of lonesome travelers."
~ Bob M.

"Our son is graduating from Carleton College in Northfield, MN, tomorrow. We (a party of 4 plus our son) flew in from San Francisco, CA. Our son has wanted to come to your restaurant from some time but waited for everyone to come for this occasion. You sure live up to our expectations!"
~ Bing S.

"In 1974 my junior high German teacher, Herr Eibner, brought our class to the Black Forest for a field trip. Before we went in to the restaurant, Herr Eibner required us to gather in groups of four to 'Schottiche' around the entire block!! Eating before schottiching was verboten!"
~ Sandy D.

"Had my first meal in Minnesota here in May, 1976 after driving up from Chicago. There used to be a driver's license exam station on Nicollet, so after taking the test I stopped here for lunch. Been coming back ever since, any time I have out of town guests & whenever I can convince my wife."
~ Bob S.

"When I was young ('69-'71) I lived at 25th and Nicollet. I'd walk to the school at 26th and Blaisdell, and on my way home stop at the bakery (26th & 1st Ave.) at the other corner of your block, or across the street? I remember one day I stopped to have lunch at your restaurant. I had a "white sausage" sandwich with I believe potato salad. Knockwurst?? I think they had beverages in steins and it seemed dark inside. The sausage was so good. Like nothing I'd ever had before. I was 7 or 8. I'm not really even sure who I came with or if I just went there on my own. Thank you for my first German cuisine."
~ Daniel B.

"I first ate at the Black Forest Inn in the summer of 1976. I've returned many times over the last 30 - some years and I've never been disappointed, except perhaps when you stopped making the bread sticks!!! Your spaetzle inspired me to learn to make it myself, but it's never as good as yours for some reason. My wife and I have many fond memories of dining at your fantastic restaurant."
~ Joel & Lisa H

"A very dear friend and I used to have a standing Thursday night "date" at the Black Forest Inn back in the late '70s early 80s. We would spend the entire evening, starting in the bar, then having dinner and ending in the bar until closing. Those Thursday nights, so memorable, winter, summer, packed in with all those expectant customers, in the bar, inching ourselves ever closer to the coveted bar seats. I would also confess that, in those days, we were both very captivated by the bartender of the day, as he was very handsome, and thus we would drink many - many - of those large Dortmunders, spend countless dollars in our front-row visual appreciation society. Was it that he became better looking as the night went on? I think not! Thank you for many happy memories we share and have a laugh about, even now. Look forward to going back there soon."
~ D. R.

"My most pleasant (of many) memories of Black Forest Inn, was last year’s Oktoberfest; late September, sitting out in the Biergarten with the waters flowing freely through the fountain, surrounded by the lush greenery, sitting with my dearest friends; drinking the most delicious beers. Nothing could be better. But then Erica, wearing a lovely blue denim dress, came up and offered door prizes. I won a mug."
~ Jon K.

"When I was on tour with the Doors in 1970, we had dinner at the Black Forest Inn while in Minneapolis. I remember the evening well. I had trout. I don't remember what the other guys had but, they loved the place. It's just possible (lol) that we had a few beers. I'm glad I read the AOL beer gardens list. It brought back some great memories."
~ Niles S.

"I have patronized The Black Forest in 1962-1964 when it was just a tavern owned by Joyce & Seth Osborn. Sunday night was the best night w/music & dancing. Brings back lots of memories & I wonder where some of these people are today. I have not been back since 1964, perhaps I will go back some day just for old times sake."
~ Dottie S.

[Ed. Note: at that time, the business was called The Swinging Door. The Osborns changed the name to The Black Forest Inn shortly before the current owners bought it.]

"I attended the neighboring art school in the sixties, and I remember the huge round tables which could seat about a dozen people. It was an easy thing for a poor art student to walk into the Black Forest after classes, pick an empty table, and put a dollar bill on the tabletop. A minute later, a pitcher of beer would be delivered, and a dime in change. Yup, ninety cents for a pitcher of beer. And that'd be the last money you'd have to spend, as the table began filling up with other art students, each one buying a pitcher of beer. If you kept your head low enough, nobody knew when it was your turn, and you could drink beer for hours on that ninety cents!"
~ Doug L.

"Having worked in the 26th and Nicollet area from the early 70's until 1997 I averaged having lunch at the Black at least once a week, sometimes more than that. The food and service was exceptional and that goes without saying but my best memories are the staff that I became friends with over the years, people like Darcy, Bear, Jean B., Cathy R., Karla, John and Mary and others who's names escape me now and for sure the owners of this fine establishment. Congrats on your 40th anniversary, here's to the next forty."
~ Harvey S.

"Congrats!! I saw Erich and Erica on TV this morning. You both did a great job. All the memories I have of the Black are truly wonderful. As you know I worked there for 17 years. Boy, I really couldn't begin to pick out the best of the best memories. I do get the warm a fuzzy feeling when I remember sitting around after having worked a good busy night. Rolling silverware and having a beer with the rest of the crew (employees and friends.) I will always miss all of what I had at the Black Forest Inn, especially the food, friends and my youth. The food is the best you can get. Erich has always had the freshest meat and produce. He takes a lot of pride in his work. Thanks for everything. I love you."
~ Wanda N.

"I was here the day the guy got off the bar stool & shot the two holes in the wall. Thankfully I got to eat before all the fun."
~ Wally B.

"I learned about your restaurant on the cooking channel. This past summer we drove from Nebraska to Minneapolis just to have the experience of eating at your place (I am half German and am very interested in my heritage).The experience of eating at your restaurant was very pleasurable and when possible I will try to return. Everyone was so friendly and the food was delicious."
~ Carol J.

"Hello to Erich, Joanne, and all: I had the pleasure of working at the Black Forest Inn both while in college and after returning to Minneapolis in 1984. It was a great place to work and I was very proud of the food produced and the wonderful, talented people I worked with. I have many happy memories of Christmas and other special occasions at the Black. The lessons I learned there, especially in how to work well with other people, have served me very well in my life since that time."
~ Lory W.

"Approximately ten years ago my mother suffered a heart attack and two strokes and was hospitalized at one of the hospitals in the metro area. My grandfather from Wyoming had flown in during my mother's illness. During his stay, he took myself and my three brothers to the Black Forest Inn just "for something special." I was 16 at the time. Since then, The Black Forest Inn's atmosphere, staff, and food have made a lasting impression. Thank you for the comfort and hospitality that my family desperately needed during that time."
~ Amber W.

"My memories of Black Forest go back to 1968. When I was in High School I did volunteer work, on the stage crew, at the Children's Theater and many times everyone would come to the Black Forest after rehearsal. I remember a sandwich made of hamburger, onion and mushroom gravy over bread, and I loved it. It was by my friends Robert Gibbs and Myron Johnson that I learned about Reubens and today I have become quite the connoisseur of Reubens and I love the ones they make at the Black Forest. Today my daughter Robia and I love coming to the Black Forest when we're hungry for some good German food."
~ Debbi M.

"Reading a message from a friend in Florida who was bemoaning the lack of good, German food in today's world, I was about to tell him of The Black Forest and thought to check the internet. There it was. I first went there in the late 1960s when I moved to Minneapolis. From a German background (strongly German farmer family from Wisconsin!), it was wonderful to have good food in that environment. I lived in Minneapolis (with five years in Rochester) until 1990. At times I lived as close as a few blocks from the Black Forest, and had many great meals there. My best memory? It was finding the recipe for authentic Hungarian Goulash in the recipe section of the daily paper (the Star-Tribune) many years ago. I wowed people in a number of states, starting in Minnesota and continuing on my odyssey. Now a Wiccan Chaplain at two prisons as well as teaching botanical medicine and herbal horticulture in the Pacific Northwest, it was a joy to find your web site..."
~ Rev. Paul B.