Cassidy’s Restaurant is one of those places around Hinckley that could be called an institution. It was 1964 when Cassidy’s moved from its downtown, Highway 61 location, which it had occupied for some 20 years, to its current location right off of Interstate 35.
At the time, current co-owner Sybil Welcher recounted, some people considered the move “Fred’s Folly.” The owners then, Fred and Maizie Clark, made the move while sections of the newer interstate were being constructed. In 1961, the section running by Hinckley and Sandstone was under construction, and the new restaurant cost half a million dollars to construct at the time. Some people doubted the restaurant could earn its keep in a new location.
“Well, they were wrong,” Sybil said frankly. The restaurant soared. With a team of servers, one of them being Joann Hedtke, and cooks, Cassidy’s outflanked doubters and established itself as a bulwark in the Hinckley community.
In 1970, changes came around once again. To borrow from the January 8, 1970 edition of The Hinckley News, “January 1, 1970, started out the turn of a new decade and also was the effective date for the new owners of Cassidy’s …” Those owners? Willard “Willie” Welcher, husband of Sybil, and Edmund “Ed” Winkler.
The men were both friends and chefs. They kept up Cassidy’s reputation as “one of Minnesota’s finest restaurants,” as a 1964 article in the Hinckley News called it. Under their leadership, Cassidy’s added the salad bar, bakery, solarium and moved the bathrooms up front.
Forty-seven years after the Welcher-Winkler partnership, the restaurant has found its next big move: the Gold Pine Lounge.
Co-owners Wendy, Stacy and Shawn, the second generation of Welchers owning Cassidy’s, wanted to find more use for their liquor license and provide opportunity for members of the community to unwind and have some relaxed fun. Putting up the lounge, in their mind, was the perfect way to fulfill both of these desires. It took about a month and a half to remodel, and finally the lounge was open for business by Mother’s Day.
Seating ranges from the outdoor patio, the solarium, raised tables to the bar. Already, the Welchers shared, there’s a “lot of local faces” making regular appearances to enjoy the lounge. “A local crowd has started to establish themselves,” Shawn added.
On Thursdays and Sundays, the lounge hosts karaoke, Saturdays include a meat raffle in partnership with Daggett’s — each night, something different is happening. Loaded with eight craft beers on tap, the full menu of Cassidy’s Restaurant and various specials throughout the week (Tuesdays boast a dollar off margaritas), the lounge offers a “relaxed atmosphere” and manages to tie Cassidy’s history into modern life.
The lounge uniquely pairs the familiar Cassidy’s with modernity — “There’s a lot of old mixed with the new. We wanted to keep our history,” Shawn said. There’s a TV humming high in one corner, displaying Vikings games and other sports. Hanging from the ceiling are what Sybil called “Gold Pine chandeliers.” It fuses the warm, cabin-feel of Cassidy’s with the perks of a bar — “a quiet place where you can have a drink and get a bite to eat,” Sybil said. It’s open from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. on weekends, offering ample opportunity to satisfy your cravings late into the night. The “after hour menu,” from 8 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. proves savory with a one-pound ham steak meal, served with two eggs and toast — all this for $4.99.
It’s “exciting” to see the lounge enter the consciousness of local people, the Welchers said. It continues a tradition established long before their time and adds a new generation’s unique touch. Cassidy’s has demonstrated its willingness to grow with the community and there’s no telling where the future may take it — the guarantee is delicious food, family dining and, now, craft beer.