An awesome thing happened at about 12:30 a.m. at RT Quinlan’s on New Year’s Eve. A Grape Vine Cafe employee came into the bar and began passing out mini menus.
"We’re open until 3 a.m.," she told us.
I asked her to repeat the information. 3 a.m.? Downtown Duluth? Where it seems most businesses close in time for employees to get home and catch Final Jeopardy? She confirmed it: 3 a.m., and left with a festive "Opa!"
Talk about good news. The owners of Grape Vine Cafe and I seem to be on the same wavelength: The only thing better than an gyro is an gyro at 2:30 a.m.
When you consider the options for late-night dining in Duluth, this ranks in the upper eschelon: Perkins gets a lot of traffic, of course. This can be a blessing or curse. While it’s fun to find four tables squished together for a party dressed in Rocky Horror Picture Show ware, sometimes watching a threesome of college students sweating, shrieking, and drooling over chicken tender melts can be off-putting. The Taco John’s drive thru is fine, provided you are safe to drive. And Pizza Luce delivers well into the infommercial hours.
But, to me, an gyro trumps all of this.
My date and I, of course, took the bait. At 2:30 a.m., we took a tall top table in the front of the restaurant. There was a steady stream of customers, including two big groups in back. The place felt really festive, and when I wandered back to the ladies room, I felt like I was in Minneapolis or some other city without a curfew.
We each had an gyro, and then split cheese cake and baklava. It was excellent.
This is the second time that I have witnessed this restaurant go above and beyond. About a month ago I was meeting friends at RT Quinlan’s over the dinner hour. I made a quick sprint over to Grape Vine Cafe and ordered a bunch of spanakopita to go. The server delivered it to us at RT’s. Again, with an "Opa!"
Nicely played, Grape Vine Cafe. Nicely played, again.