ReGrow Dining Spotlight

Keys Café – White Bear lake 
Celine Carlson – Owner 

“The Food You Grew Up With”, the tagline for Keys Café certainly captures the heart and soul of this penultimate “Family” operation. Their story began in the early 70’s, when Barbara Hunn and her daughter Celine, current owner of Keys White Bear Lake, were working at Dairy Queen in their St. Paul neighborhood. Mom and daughter quickly realized that food and service were “in their blood”. In 1973, Barbara purchased Mr. D’s restaurant on Raymond in St. Paul and named it “Keys” because her business partner was moving to the Florida Keys. Mom taught the kids well and instilled a serious work-ethic as the business grew. It was not uncommon for the school nurse to get a phone call releasing one of the siblings from school that day because the restaurant needed a dishwasher.  

Building on the success of the business, the first spin-off Café was opened in New Brighton by daughter Jean. Celine and Brian Carlson opened White Bear Lake in 1989. Over the years, the family affair has grown to nine restaurants, all owned and operated by family members. Today there are three generations working in the Cafes, including Celine’s son Ben, Head Chef at Keys White Bear. With a strong belief in giving back, Carlson has always been a contributor to the local community, donating to numerous charitable causes and “getting involved” when it matters. They are grateful for their loyal customers and believe in Paying it Forward. 

Celine is proud of their commitment to scratch cooking with quality ingredients and White Bear natives are familiar with their “comfort food” style of homemade meals at reasonable prices. Baked Goods, Soups, Fresh Meats, Homemade Sauces, and Decadent Desserts, including the famous Chocolate House Cake are all signature dishes at Keys. They offer several Family Style Meals and Special Occasion Desserts, and other catering options within their Take-Out program. Best options for take-out are: Door Dash, ChowNow, or calling 651-426-2885 for Curbside pickup. 

This article written by Ken Galloway, and originally featured in the White Bear Press.