By Martha Keeffe —
Erika Douglas, owner of the Driftwood Diner located at 200 Main St. in Brownsville, Minnesota, is all about keeping things simple.
“People enjoy good, homemade comfort food,” she says, commenting on what keeps her customers coming back for seconds. “When they come here, they know what to expect.”
No stranger to the food business, Douglas has worked in restaurants since she was 15 years old, gaining enough experience and confidence to open her own diner should the opportunity ever arise. Due to what Douglas can only describe as “some crazy circumstances,” she had that chance and opened the Driftwood Diner on June 19. “Never in a million years did I think that it would actually happen, but here I am,” she laughs. “So far it’s been a great experience.”
Cozy and unassuming, the Driftwood Diner offers tabletop seating as well as counter space perfect for an early morning cup of coffee and a fresh bakery item while reading the newspaper. When my friend and I entered the diner, we immediately noticed the abundance of windows that provided plenty of natural light, giving the space a homey atmosphere. And because the diner is situated across the highway from the Mississippi River, we chose a spot where we could enjoy a pleasant view of the water. Plans to further enhance the ambiance of the restaurant include historic photographs of the Brownsville area and assorted pieces of driftwood in memory of Douglas’ uncle.
Once seated, we were promptly greeted by our waitress who poured us a hot cup of coffee. The breakfast menu ranges from the traditional option of eggs, meat and toast to signature items featuring a hash brown omelet with homemade sausage gravy and biscuits or cinnamon French toast. For diners looking to change things up, Douglas includes a daily special with tasty surprises such as chocolate chip pancakes or a chili-cheese omelet. I ordered a standard breakfast that included two scrambled eggs, meat (I chose sausage patties) and toast while my friend opted for the breakfast special of cinnamon French toast with fresh strawberries. To our delight, the food was presented exactly as advertised—well prepared, flavorful and simple.
“As much as possible, I try to locally source food,” explains Douglas, who believes that consistency and fresh ingredients greatly contribute to the appeal of her dishes. “Most of the fruit and vegetables I use come from community farmers markets.”
This theme of freshness and simplicity extends to the lunch and dinner items as well. Douglas takes the time to prepare homemade dishes, including beef vegetable soup, chicken noodle soup, fresh green salads, appetizing burgers and fish (prepared using meat from area markets). This attention to homemade goodness is something customers notice, and it keeps them wanting more. “Right now, we’re open daily from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. except for Friday when the hours are 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.,” says Douglas. “But due to customer demand, those hours may have to expand.”
Stop by the Driftwood Diner at 200 Main St. in Brownsville, Minnesota. For more information, call (507) 482-6333 or search for the diner on Facebook.