Trevett’s Cafe, one of Milbank’s most treasured eateries, is closing its doors after 48 years of dishing out classic home cooking and more than... Trevetts Cafe 48 Years of Memories

Trevett’s Cafe, one of Milbank’s most treasured eateries, is closing its doors after 48 years of dishing out classic home cooking and more than 4 million cups of coffee. Trevett’s last day is Tuesday, January 31.

If you spent time in Milbank in the last five decades, you probably ended up at Trevett’s. You no doubt ate a darn good meal and if you still had room, topped it off with a piece of homemade apple pie or a freshly baked caramel or frosted cinnamon roll. If you stopped in often, you probably knew Dick the owner -a man with an infectious smile and pocket full of Dum-dums.

The cafe was known as Kasuske’s until Dick Trevett purchased it in 1969. He had been a meat cutter at Flannery’s Sausage Company and also had owned Dick’s Grocery on Main Street in Stockholm. A restaurant was an entirely new adventure.

Dick took to it like a duck to water and soon his wife quit her job at Dakota State Bank to join him. They changed the name from Kasuske’s to Trevett’s, but it remained open 24-hours and had only a lunch counter until that just wasn’t big enough.

Dick and Diane added on to the east side of the building and, in the mid-1980s, converted the adjacent Mobil gas station on the west side into more seating. Through it all, the cafe stayed open 24 hours a day every day. Jim Trevett, current owner of Trevett’s, remembers, “Once, my dad decided we were going to close for Christmas. Because we were open 24 hours and never locked the doors, Dad had to park a car up against the front and back doors. Nobody had or knew where the keys were. The cars were our deadbolts.”

Jim and his five siblings – Mark, Mary Lee, Steve, Paul, and John grew up with the cafe as their second home. “When I was about 13, my dad would drag us out to clean up from the Friday and Saturday night party crowds. He would get us up at 3:30 a.m. so we could get here by 4 a.m. We didn’t have a choice. We mopped and scrubbed the floors and cleaned everything up. I used to hide hoping he wouldn’t find me. That didn’t work.”

The Trevett children all put elbow grease into the cafe during high school, but once they graduated, went on to other things. Jim always loved the restaurant and wanted to stay and work for his parents. He was employed by them full-time from 1987 to 2000. In 2000, he bought the business. “So, for most of my life,” he said, “I have been here.”

The cafe witnessed more than its share of wild times during its 48-year run. Deanie Berens, Diane Trevett’s sister, remembers the restaurant being so busy people would wait outside for half an hour to an hour for a seat to open up. “Jerry Berens owned the Townhouse across the street,” she said. “When they closed the bar for the night everyone would come over to Trevett’s to get food. It was busy.”

Jim remembers it, too. “We saw everything from fist fights to guys falling asleep with their heads on the table. One guy even ordered a raw steak. He said he was going to put it on his face after he got punched in a fight outside. Those times were crazy.”

If you were around in the 70’s and 80’s and were too young to drink at the bar, but had a car, you probably drove through Trevett’s parking lot more times than you care to count. It was the unofficial turn-around spot for cruisers making the loop on the four-lane from the American Legion Baseball monument and back.

If you had to call your mom to tell her the library was staying open late or needed a quiet spot to call a friend, Trevett’s parking lot also provided a convenient phone booth. If you didn’t have gas for your car, you maybe just parked it in Trevett’s parking lot and sat on top. All your friends would drive by eventually, anyway. Jim said, “My dad used to run the kids off. He didn’t think it was good for business to have them congregate there, but it didn’t really bother me.” It didn’t really work, either. The next night, the kids always came back. “And believe it or not,” Jim said, “someone was always using that phone booth.”

Trevett’s was just a happening place. A place to get breakfast and lunch and, by the way, the best beef combination ever. A place to buy a newspaper or a bus ticket – it doubled as the bus stop for Jackrabbit Bus Lines. A place where Sundays after church were a ritual and coffee hour was legendary. It wasn’t just important to locals, either. Before the interstate was built, the parking lot hummed with the sound of idling semis. Stranded truckers and travelers found shelter and hot food during many a raging blizzard.

Over the years the world changed, but Trevett’s remained the place. If you needed lunch catered for 20 or 200, Trevett’s was there, if you needed a donation, Trevett’s didn’t hesitate. They supported Grant County Appeal and were the place for the 60’s-Plus Dining program, Meals On Wheels, and cooking lunches for inmates at the detention center. Jim continued his family’s tradition of generosity and added to the list the use of his catering trailer to the Milbank High School football team.

Although Trevett’s regulars might come and go, staff members remained a constant. Evie Hilbrands, Eva VanRay, and Gladys Bohn were at the cafe longer than the tabletop juke boxes. “Evie worked here 35 years and Eva was a lifer, too,” Jim said. “Gladys was employed here the last 35 years. She just got a new job in the deli at Hartman’s Family Foods. It will be her second job; she started working here when she was 17 years old.”

The third generation of Trevetts, including Jim’s children, Michelle and Matt, and his nieces and nephews also worked in the cafe. “Michelle is nicknamed Boomer – short for Boomerang. Every time she left to do something else, she always came back. So, she has been here with me a long time, too,” Jim said.

Trevett’s unique coffee mugs have been around a while, too. There’s something about them. People love them. Jim said, “So many people like them, they want them as a souvenir.”

“When we start looking back, some things I had forgotten,” he said. That’s not surprising as 48 years is a lifetime and memories have a way of blending like frosting on a hot cinnamon roll. Memories that are warm and sweet and spicy, too.

Pictured: Jim and Michelle

Staff Writer

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