As I’ve mentioned before, a few years back I began a “tradition” of celebrating family birthdays from afar by going out for a nice dinner or dessert, eating in their honor even if I couldn’t be there in person to celebrate with them. Because I’ve lived away from my family for so many years, it was a way to feel connected and not left out.
I’ve had a lot of good meals these last few years celebrating my brothers’ and sisters’ birthdays. (Always in their honor, mind you.)
Well, now that I’ve moved back to Minnesota where most of my family lives, my tradition was nearly unmasked as nothing more than an excuse to eat where I please without guilt.
My older brother’s birthday would be the first one I could celebrate in person – the first real test of my so-called tradition. The challenge was to pick someplace that would seem like a treat for him, but would be my first choice too.
Murray’s was established by Art and Marie Murray in 1946, when they purchased the building on Sixth Street in Minneapolis. Today, the Murray family still runs the restaurant, and still uses some of Marie’s recipes and seasonings.
The reason my choice was so easy is because the steaks are some of the best you’ll find anywhere, the garlic toast is out of this world and my family has been celebrating events at Murray’s for decades.
One of the few birthdays I came home for was my dad’s 70th birthday – and not just because I knew we were going to Murray’s. I was also home for my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, which we celebrated at Murray’s. Sometimes just having all of us home at the same time was excuse enough to eat at Murray’s. I even went to Murray’s with my date for the high school prom.
But my first memory of Murray’s is because of my uncle, he took us to Murray’s at the end of the county fair. I suppose that was also my first “office party,” as everyone in my family worked for my uncle during the county fair in one of his stands selling hamburgers or cotton candy or popcorn or mini doughnuts.
I don’t remember how old I was the first summer I worked for my uncle, but in the retelling I get younger and younger. In my last retelling I was in fifth grade my first year working the county fair with my cousin in the popcorn truck.
After a couple of years I moved into a different truck making mini doughnuts with my older sister. She claims she did all the work and my uncle still claims I ate all the profits. We must have done okay; however, because my uncle took us all to Murray’s to celebrate the end of the fair. (One year it rained and rained the entire fair. We did not go to Murray’s that year.)
Being back in Minnesota it felt only natural to celebrate my brother’s birthday at Murray’s. Because it had been my tradition to eat out in celebration of a brother or sister’s birthday and call them from the restaurant, I thought it might be funny to invite my uncle for lunch and have us call my brother to let him know we were enjoying the best steaks in town for his birthday. In the end, I decided to change the tradition and invite my brother, along with my uncle, to lunch.
Glad I did. Not only did we have a great lunch and have some good laughs, but my parents picked up the tab. Some traditions just keep getting better!