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Good Times means Great Times


Sat, Feb 18th, 2012
Posted in All Real Bites

At Good Times restaurant and bar in Caledonia, I indulged in a meal fit for King Henry VIII of England. This prime rib was seasoned to perfection, bringing out all of the meaty juices.Photo by Jason Sethre

My wife and I recently traveled to Caledonia for dinner at a place that, by name, makes me think of the fictional character J.J., from the 1970s sitcom Good Times, who would most likely say this place was "Dyno-MITE!"

I'm not sure if Mr. James Evans, Jr. has ever made his way through Houston County, Minn., to the famed Good Times restaurant and bar. But, if he ever considered it, he'd definitely want to make reservations.

I called Good Times at 4:30 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon and asked the hostess if we needed a reservation. She said it would probably be a good idea, so I requested a reservation for four people at 5:45 p.m..

When my family and I arrived at 5:45 p.m. on the button, the parking lot was packed. The aromas from the restaurant were alluring to the extent I think I heard a slab of beef calling my name: "Bite me, Jason! Eat me, Jason! Stick a fork in me, Jason!" That's what I heard. I kid you not!

To me, meat ranks right up there with chocolate, ice cream and beer. I don't know what it is at this stage in my life, but I cannot seem to eat enough red meat. I tend to believe that if I were a cannibal in the tourist-forbidden jungles of the Amazon, I am so carnivorous I might even pass on consuming a vegan for fear it might ruin my appetite. That's a joke, by the way, in case you're worried you'll show up on my menu. I would never be a cannibal. I hear they have horrible table manners.

Getting back to my meat-a-thon.

The Good Times restaurant and bar was absolutely fantastic. The owner, Chris Wedl, is the kind of owner who walks around and talks to the guests. To me, the most successful restaurant owners are the ones who walk around and acknowledge their customers. It makes patrons feel special that the restaurant owner cares enough to walk around and see if everyone is enjoying their meal. This is a very challenging task, in addition to running a very busy kitchen producing a high quality dining experience, but the owners like Chris Wedl recognize the importance of her presence in the dining area.

While we were waiting for dinner, enjoying beverages and conversation, we realized we forgot to pack some coloring books and crayons for our kids. Not to worry. Chris Wedl to the rescue! While Chris was passing by our table, she noticed we were trying to keep our kids entertained, so she asked if they would like some coloring pages and crayons. "Yes! That would be great," I exclaimed. And, we were taken care of.

At one point while I was taking our son to the restroom, I saw Chris coddling someone's baby in her arms while talking to the baby's parents. Chris and all of her staff, for that matter, are so personable, you feel welcome from the first time you set foot in the door.

Oh, and for dinner, I ordered the prime rib. Unbelievable, I have to say. It reminded me of a nine pound prime rib our family cooked a number of years ago for a huge family gathering. There were a few slight differences, though. At Good Times, we didn't have to do dishes, and quite honestly, the Good Times prime rib was better than what I had at home. I guess prime rib should be left up to the experts!

If I leave you with one bit of advice when planning a trip to Caledonia for dinner, make a reservation. They have had literally upwards of 125 make reservations on a Saturday night. Apparently, Good Times is a popular place, and I can see why.

For more information about Good Times, you can visit their website at www.goodtimescaledonia.com or call Chris Wedl at (507) 725-3839. I should mention they also cater weddings and provide a lot of other opportunities for family and business gatherings.

Great food, great people, and great times! Just a suggestion, Chris, but I might suggest re-naming your restaurant from Good Times to Great Times!

I feel fortunate to live in an area where we have absolutely no corporate-owned restaurants. Every restaurant in our area is family owned and operated. Every dining establishment in the area provides something unique from the ambiance to the tasty bites that keep us coming back for more. We have a great selection of restaurants right here in our own backyard, and I plan on sharing my dining experiences from one town to the next.

Look for this feature every week in the Fillmore County Journal, along with online under the Real Bites section.

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