What Makes a Classic?

The ingredients that go into making a tried-and-true favorite

The neon sign for Murray's in downtown Minneapolis.

photo by Bruce Silcox

June 25, 1993. I’ll never forget that night. My spouse and I were celebrating our one-year anniversary, and like many young couples eagerly reaching their first blissful milestone, we went to Murray’s in downtown Minneapolis. I don’t exactly recall who recommended the restaurant to us, but I do remember walking down Sixth Street, my eyes blasted by a bright neon sign and electric blue façade. For a moment, I thought we had made a mistake. The place looked more like a supper club throwback to the golden era of big bands, swanky joints, and smoke-filled rooms. That first impression proved impeccably right, albeit in a good way, upon entering.

Clearly, this place wasn’t just a throwback. This was the real deal (minus the smoke), somehow frozen in time. I glanced around the rather small dining room fully expecting to see a Humphrey Bogart-esque celebrity tucked into one of the discreet booths lining the walls. The place oozed a casual, yet chic, upscale vibe that immediately made me think we didn’t belong here. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Our server—who had been with Murray’s for more than 20 years at the time—welcomed us as if we were lifelong friends. One bite of their Silver Butter Knife Steak for two and several pieces of their infamous garlic toast later, we were hooked. Fast-forward to 2018, and we—along with our two children and countless family members—have frequented Murray’s for many of life’s milestones since that night. Each time we enter, we are flooded with a sense of belonging, a heart-warming comfort in knowing that the experience about to unfold will be cherished, by all, for years to come.

Despite how much the world has changed since its opening in 1946, Murray’s remains steadfast, a true classic, serving the most memorable meals for the most memorable occasions. In fact, I plan on returning later this week with Reed Fischer, our new senior editor for Minnesota Monthly. There’s no better way to roll out the proverbial welcome mat than with a leisurely lunch in an iconic downtown setting.

Fischer is no stranger to Murray’s legendary status. After all, he comes to us from GoMN (formerly BringMeTheNews.com), where he was editorial director for the hyper-local news aggregation website for the past few years. Born in Northfield, he graduated from Skidmore College and the University of Missouri before starting his journalism career as a staff writer for Triton Digital Media, later working as a music editor for New Times, as well as City Pages. Fischer will lead the strategic content development for Minnesota Monthly in both print and digital forms, helping us remain, well, a classic for another 50 years.