Edit ModuleShow Tags

5 Questions with Elizabeth Tinucci of Colossal Café


john and elizabeth tinucci, photo courtesy colossal cafe

A Twin Cities institution, the Colossal Café is known for its fresh, locally–sourced ingredients and quality service. The Tinucci family—Carrie and John, along with daughter Elizabeth—bought the Minneapolis restaurant, a breakfast and lunch spot known for serving diner food without the requisite grease, in 2010. They opened up a second location in St. Anthony Park a year later, and a third Colossal was recently added to the corner of Grand and Hamline Avenues in St. Paul. No matter how many cafés they open, though, the Tinuccis’ focus on friendly service and quality ingredients remains intact.

1. You pride yourselves on using fresh, seasonal ingredients. How do you ensure that quality?

It all starts at the source of the ingredient, right? Someone is planting, raising and caring for each item that comes into our kitchen so we have tried to have some really good partners who supply us with products that have been cared for and respected from the start. These partners include people like the Peterson’s at Ferndale Farms where we source our free range, all natural turkey products from— they are another small, family owned business who takes pride in what they produce. We have many partners like the Peterson’s who start us with fabulous, fresh, quality products we are proud to serve.

2. Have you considered expanding to dinner service?

We did take that leap and it was wonderful and we were successful while it lasted, but it was a “quality of life” decision to step back when we did. It’s not to say we may not do it again, in the future, but right now we need to focus on the three places we have and be good at what we are currently doing.

3. What changes did you make when you took over the Colossal in 2010? What did you absolutely have to keep the same?

The food already spoke for itself – we added a different personality to the operation. We offered more friendly service and treated everyone like they were family. At first we were cautious about changing any of the food, but over the course of the years, we have definitely made some changes and additions to make it our own. 

4. Do you have any advice for restaurateurs taking over beloved institutions?

Don’t be afraid to bring in your own style and be very good to the established customers. If something is good – don’t mess with it. 

5. You are well known for your Flappers. Is there a story behind the name? What makes them unique?

Oh, my—I could go on and on. I believe it is a Greek recipe from the previous owner—we have had Greek folks share with us that it is something they used to prepare and eat. The brandy, the yeast, the barometric pressure— they all affect the recipe. 

Edit ModuleShow Tags

About This Blog

Minnesota Monthly's Taste Blog answers your restaurant and dining questions, dishes on latest discoveries, reflects on breaking news, and generally brings the plate to the page with a skilled crew of experts: Learn more about the Taste bloggers.

Have a food-related question? Email rfischer@mnmo.com

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Taste Blog

Smoky-sweet ribs recipe from a “King of Porc”? Yes, please.

Award-winning co-owner of Corner Table and Revival restaurants Thomas Boemer shares ribs, watermelon, and pie recipes plus tips for a summer barbecue with Southern flair

New Minnesota State Fair Foods 2018

Whet your appetite with this complete list of 27 new foods available this year at the Great Minnesota Get-Together

Fine Spirits Classic Twin Cities 2018

Sip on cocktails prepared by top mixologists and enjoy gourmet fare at Minnesota Monthly's seventh annual Fine Spirits Classic at Orchestra Hall on July 26

Grilled Vegetable and Bratwurst Salad Recipe

Think “outside the bun” and enjoy summer’s favorite grilled brats in a fresh veggie salad for a low-carb alternative

The Twin Cities' Best Hot Dogs

The hottest of hot dogs, to celebrate National Hot Dog Day on July 18

3 Things to Eat This Week: July 11-15

Feast on a fat sandwich, a sweet treat, or something oozy and icy

8 Juicy Places in the Metro

Fresh squeezing and blending superfoods for a super life

Review: Centro Opens in Northeast

Tacos, frozen drinks, and spectacular sides in a unique Northeast space

Cherry and Chocolate Truffle Tart Recipe

Take advantage of the short but sweet cherry season with a luscious cherry and chocolate treat
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags