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 rhutton@mnmo.com

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Taste Blog

Toast the Royal Wedding with British-Gin Cocktails

As Britain’s Prince Harry and U.S.-actress Megan Markle tie the knot, raise a glass to the happy couple—and those close to you—with wedding-themed tipples

Bottoms-Up Cinnamon Caramel Pinwheels Recipe

With this fast version of a sticky bun, baking at home can be no muss, no fuss—and delicious

Leslie Bock's Newest Bar Wants to Save the Future

"We're attempting to show humans as messy and complicated."

Rosé All Day: The Best Tastings (Some Free)

More than 100 different rosé wines available to try—many for free

Wine Clubs: The Perfect Mother's Day Gift

Sip Better figures out your taste for wine and goes deep

Gavin Kaysen Takes Midwest Gold

A quick note on our 2018 James Beard Best Chef: Midwest

Sue Z.'s Charitable Check-In: May

This month, Sue Z. recommends supporting local student chefs with a dinner at Saint Dinette

Greek Yogurt Marinated Chicken Kebabs Recipe

Get fired up for grilling season with tender, flavorful chicken kebabs by meat guru Bruce Aidells and a marinade that also works well with other proteins

My Name Is Jason and I Used to Hate Brunch

Brunch has undergone a renaissance in the Twin Cities. Food critic Jason DeRusha picks his top spots for brunch this year.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags