Sauerkraut, Landjager popular specials at Essig landmark
By Janet Kubat Willette
Date Modified: 08/02/2012 2:09 PM
Location: Beautiful downtown Essig.
Hours: Open seven days a week. Noon specials served from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Burgers only served from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Dining room opens at 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and at 5 p.m. Sundays.
Known for: Chicken.
Price of a quarter chicken with toast, one trip to the salad bar and choice of potato: $7.25
Most popular noon special: Sauerkraut, Landjager and mashed potatoes.
Call them at: (507) 354-4241
ESSIG, Minn. — If you've ever driven from New Ulm to Sleepy Eye along Highway 14, you've driven past Essig.
Locals know better than to drive past. They turn off the highway and into beautiful downtown Essig.
The town, little more than a clustering of houses and a grain elevator, is home to Carl's Corner, a bar and grill that attracts people from far and near. Customers hail from New Ulm, Sleepy Eye, St. George, Springfield, Mankato and other places too numerous to mention.
The business is named for Carl Rolloff, who owned the business before Pat and Renae Berg bought it in 1989.
The couple met at the bar — he was behind the bar and she was sitting over there, he said, pointing. They celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary on June 20.
Pat grew up in Essig. He and his seven siblings and his mother, Lois Berg, all worked at Carl's at one time or another. Pat was the only one who didn't work in the kitchen. To this day, he stays out of the kitchen and behind the bar. His brother, Kenny, who bought into the business in 1994, takes care of the kitchen. Lois waited tables and tended bar at Carl's and still comes to help out.
Three of Pat and Renae's four children help at Carl's. Alex tends bar and helps in the kitchen. Adam and Abby work in the kitchen. Andy hasn't started working there yet.
Alex said he's worked at Carl's for five years and he can fill in anywhere he's needed. Abby has been working there about a year and usually does dishes. She's training to make pizza, one of the most popular items on the menu at Carl's Corner.
On a weekend night, they'll have five or six kids in the kitchen making pizza, Pat said. Their pizzas are made to order.
"Everything's made from scratch here," he said.
Their homemade pizzas are 12 inches in diameter. Their specialties sell for $11.95. They include: Carl's Combo, made with sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, celery, onion, green peppers and cheese; Roger's special, made with sausage, hamburger, pepperoni, extra cheese and a double crust; and the Milford Special featuring hamburger, onion and cheese. Diners are invited to make their own combinations.
Their popular sauerkraut, Landjager and mashed potato special is served Wednesdays. On Tuesdays, it's three pieces of dark meat chicken and a baked potato. Burgers are also popular at noontime or anytime at Carl's.
Their burgers are pretty basic, Pat said. They are made with a third pound of high quality lean ground beef. Steve's Special is unique in that it's two one-third pound burgers, topped with cole slaw and raw onion.
They do a lot of take out and to go orders at Carl's Corner. It's a big part of their business, Pat said.
They also have a 9 a.m. coffee gathering. Anywhere from 30 to 40 farmers stop in for coffee and rolls. During busy seasons, some will miss, but a lot take an hour out of their day to visit.
"They don't want to miss," Pat said.
On a recent morning, they shared pictures from the hail storm that moved through the area on June 18.
At Carl's, everybody knows everybody, Pat and Renae said. And on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, Carl's is the place they meet. They fill up the place, which seats 100 in the dining room and 60 in the bar room. They have a full bar, but they're known for their food, Pat said.
Carl's is a come as you are, family place, said Renae, who does the schedule for the business's 39 employees, several of whom came with the place.
Area farmer Mike Moldan is one of the main bartenders. Pat and Kenny's brother, Steve, also tends bar and Renae's sister, Rita Hartling, tends bar, cooks and waits tables.