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Congo burger popular at Conger bar and grill

By Janet Kubat Willette

Date Modified: 06/05/2013 2:33 PM

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CONGER, Minn. — The tornado of 2010 lingers as a topic of conversation at the Conger Municipal.

The storm was actually a series of tornadoes that touched down in Freeborn County the evening of June 17, 2010. It included an EF4 near Mansfield and an EF3 near Albert Lea and Hollandale. EF1 tornadoes were reported near Walters, Armstrong, Clarks Grove, Newry and Lerdal.

Located along Freeborn County Road 17 just across from Northern Country Co-op, Conger Municipal is a popular place to grab a burger for lunch or pick up take-outs to feed busy farmers.

Manager Marie Helland worked for three years to install a kitchen in the Conger Municipal. For seven years, they've served food from a full kitchen.

Food is served from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

They are known for their Congo Burger, made from hamburger from the nearby Conger Meat Market. All their meat is purchased from the Conger Meat Market, Helland said.

They also sell a lot of macaroni and potato salad, purchased from Conger Inn Catering.

They have a kids' menu, which includes mini-corn dogs, a hamburger or cheeseburger and a grilled cheese sandwich.

The Conger Municipal has evening specials from 5 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Monday night is Burger Night. A hamburger, baked beans and salad are served for $4.50.

On Tuesday nights from Labor Day through Memorial Day, barbecued ribs are the special. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, a chicken plate is served.

A fish and shrimp plate is the Wednesday evening special from Labor Day through Memorial Day. Come Memorial Day, the Wednesday evening special is a steak fry on the grill out back.

Thursday is taco night.

Burger night and taco night attract the most customers, Helland said. Saturday afternoon also is busy at the bar and grill, as patrons come for Bar Bingo from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. The Albert Lea Amateur Hockey Association conducts the bingo, Helland said. She and her staff keep busy serving food and drinks.

Popular sides include Rueben balls, broccoli poppers, cheese curds and jalapeno poppers.

Conger Municipal has 10 part-time employees in addition to Helland and several regular customers, the kind she calls if they don't come at their regular time.

Helland enjoys working with customers, perhaps picking up the trait from her father, Roger Oldfather, who owned the Maple Cafe in Kiester and was the town's longtime mayor.

"I grew up there from the day I was born to almost the day I graduated," Helland said of the Maple Cafe.

She and her father lived in an apartment in the back of the cafe.

She studied catering at the technical school in Albert Lea and worked at Club 90 in Alden and a bar and grill in Walters before coming to Conger.

"So I've been in the business all my life," Helland said. "There's never been a day out of all these years when I didn't want to come to work."