By Tim Krohn
Free Press Staff Writer
MANKATO — For many years, Mankato area diners moved between four famous dinner clubs — Michael’s and Colony Club in Mankato, the Century Club along the river in North Mankato, and Cub’s tucked away in a old residential area near the Kato Ballroom.
Cub’s — operating as Mac’s Bar & Cafe in recent years — was the last of the four clubs still operating as a bar/restaurant but is now being razed following a fire that closed the business more than a year ago.
Cub’s, owned and operated by Cub and Shirlee Ferris, held a unique place among the dinner clubs of the time. “It was the only place with Chinese food. It’s wasn’t like now when they’re on every corner,” said Charley Sadaka, Cub’s nephew.
Cub’s father and Sadaka’s father were brothers who grew up in Lebanon. Cub was born in the United States and brought Sadaka to the U.S. in 1972. “I went to college and lived with him until 1985. He did a lot for me,” said Sadaka, who now owns and operates Charley’s restaurant on Madison Avenue.
When Sadaka brought a tattered old Cub’s menu to The Free Press, it instantly triggered memories. The big, bright red menu with gold trim and Chinese symbols evoked a sense of exotic wealth.
Cub was nothing if not a promoter. The menu proudly proclaimed: “Welcome to the Greatest Restaurant in Southern Minnesota and Northern Iowa.”
The menu started with some tips on how to order and eat “fine oriental” foods.
The high-end menu offered exotic drinks and meals, such as shrimp with peapods for $6.25 with the most expensive meal a lobster dish at $10.50.
That might sound like a good deal for a lobster meal, but consider this: Adjusting for inflation, that lobster that cost $10.50 in the late ’70s would be about $32 if on the menu today.
“It was really well known,” Sadaka said. “We had people from Rochester and all over southern Minnesota come.”
Cub’s was one of those places most people didn’t go to regularly but was a spot for marking special events.
Sadaka wasn’t sure exactly when Cub — who was in the Navy in World War II — started Cub’s but guessed it was in the 1960s.
“It was just a burger joint at first. In 1975 he remodeled and expanded it and turned it into a Chinese restaurant.”
The renovated restaurant featured a rich-looking fireplace and furniture from the old courthouse. “That was unique. People loved it.”
Later in his life, prior to his death, Cub had health problems and the business was sold and turned into Mac’s Bar.
Tim Krohn is a Free Press staff writer. He can be contacted at 344-6383 or email@example.com.