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The Triumphant Return of East Lake Street's Diner-Made Adult Shakes at the Hi-Lo

The unlikely marriage of Taco Bell and classic diner car is about to make its debut.

There's a doughnut in there made just for you.
There's a doughnut in there made just for you.
Devan Grimsrud

The Hi-Lo Diner, glimmers in the winter sun beside East Lake Street as if it’s been there forever. However, the modular 1955 Fodero Diner is new to its Longfellow location, a transplant from a little place called Gibsonia in Pennsylvania where it was known as The Venus diner and operated from 1958 through 2007. Set to open this month, it’s hard not to get a little hysterical in anticipation of its soon to be signature HI-TOPS, fried-to-order rounds of dough with filling and toppings, both sweet and savory, as well as its revival of a forgotten Lake Street tradition, adult malts.

Owned equally by Mike Smith and James Brown of Brownsmith & Forage, and Jeremy Woerner and Pat McDonough of The Blue Door Pub, Hi-Lo has been in the works for about two years. After taking over the long-shuttered Taco Bell across the street from Forage Modern Workshop, the hunt for the perfect modular diner was on. An interview occurred in order to obtain the old-school diner (odd, yes - however these diners are hard to come by and deserve to go to owners who will take care of them) and the renovations began once all of the pieces had arrived in Minneapolis. On the cusp of opening, the interior screams iconic diner and it’s obvious that careful consideration went into keeping it as close to the original as possible.

A first look inside the diner. Photo by Devan Grimsrud

A first look inside the diner. Photo courtesy Hi-Lo

Executive Chef Heidi Marsh, previously of The Aster Café, will run the kitchen and Ryan Barott, formerly of Hola Arepa, will take his post behind the bar, concocting classic cocktails from the mind of Dan Oskey of Tattersall Distillery.

The bar menu will include a full selection of beverages, but most exciting is the return of the spiked milkshake, something East Lake Street has sorely missed since the the end of the Tim Niver-run/Nick Kosevich-tended days of the Town Talk Diner further up East Lake Street. (That has since become Le Town Talk, but that's for another story).

The food and drink will be approachable takes on the classics, focusing on making things from scratch as much as possible, just like the good ol’ days of diners before the 1980’s. Hi-Lo will have amazing hours for early birds and night owls alike, think 6:30 A.M. to midnight (open until 2 A.M. on Fridays and Saturdays). Watch for opening details via Facebook or Instagram.

Hi-Lo Diner

4020 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55406

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