1950s-style diner to open in Eagan

Ayman Samie will open Betty’s Cafe at 1981 Silver Bell Road in Eagan next week. A soft opening is set for Oct. 18 and a grand opening will be held Oct. 20. – Photo by Jessica Harper

Ayman Samie has had a love affair with American comfort food since emigrating from Egypt to the United State nearly 10 years ago. This passion is behind Samie’s new restaurant, Betty’s Cafe, which is set to open next week at 1981 Silver Bell Road in Eagan.

“This is part of America’s identity, and I want to keep it going,” Samie said.

All the classic fare will be served at Betty’s, including meat loaf with mashed potatoes and gravy, hamburgers and, of course, homemade apple pie.

The cafe will have a variety of classic pies as well as little-known recipes such as chocolate-covered cherry pie. Customers can enjoy a free treat during a soft opening on Oct. 18 and again during a grand opening on Oct. 20.

Betty’s will offer a classic breakfast menu served all day. Every item on the menu will be made from scratch and set at affordable prices, Samie said. Breakfast items, for instance, will be less than $8.

Samie said he plans to have between 20 and 25 employees in time for the cafe’s soft opening.

The new restaurant’s decor resembles that of the well-known Betty’s Pies in Two Harbors, but Samie said the two restaurants are not affiliated. When Betty’s Pie’s closed its location in Medina, Samie swooped in to purchase its furniture and equipment.

Samie said he chose the name Betty’s Cafe because he liked the classic nature of the name “Betty.”

Betty’s Cafe will be the second 1950s-style diner to open in Eagan in the past few months. Ze’s Diner opened in March in Town Centre. However, Samie said he is not concerned about competition.

“Every customer has different tastes and we will be judged by our own merits,” he said.

Samie said he was drawn to the cafe’s location — off Highway 13 and Silver Bell Road — by surrounding housing developments and businesses, and plans to construct an outlet mall nearby.

“I think that’s going to be a good mix,” he said.

Betty’s Cafe isn’t Samie’s first venture. He currently owns the Route 52, a 1950s diner in Cannon Falls, which he purchased four years ago. Although he will continue to operate Route 52, Samie said he plans to be at Betty’s daily to oversee its operations.

Samie’s restaurant experience extends back to Egypt, where he owned a seaside restaurant that sold kabobs and other grilled foods.

When he came to Minnesota in 2001, the cold weather was a bit of a shock, but the Excelsior resident said he quickly grew fond of the Midwestern culture and food.

“I’d never want to go anywhere else,” he said. “I like the clean environment and friendly people.”

Samie became drawn to American culture as a child watching Western movies and television shows.

But it was his stint working at Mickey’s Diner in St. Paul that inspired him to open a 1950s cafe.

“I loved watching people come in from the snow and enjoy classic hash browns and eggs,” he said.