Q. Cumbers Works to Keep Its Relevance

Q. Cumbers Works to Keep Its Relevance

The restaurant of the ’90s works to keep its relevance.

Q. Cumbers, the salad buffet in Edina that once proudly called itself, “a restaurant for the ’90s,” is girding for a fourth decade of business after signing a new 10-year lease and completing an extensive remodel in March. A staple of Edina’s Centennial Lakes development since 1990 (owner Mickey McCabe purchased the restaurant with his wife in 1995 from a group of investors), the restaurant reopened in late winter after a seven-week $900,000 renovation.

“I wanted to be open for the Super Bowl, but we ended up closing for renovations the weekend prior,” says owner Mickey McCabe. “So I made sure we were open by St. Patrick’s Day, partly because I had ordered $800 worth of corned beef.”

Half of the renovation costs were covered by the center manager Cushman and Wakefield as part of necessary building updates and repairs. McCabe’s portion went into refinishing furniture, new kitchen equipment, and an updated menu. He spent about $50,000 keeping his entire staff of 35 on the payroll during the closure.

Though salad bars definitely evoke a different dining era, McCabe sees relevance anew. “We’re seeing more baby boomers, now seniors, who appreciate the value and health-conscious menu we offer.” The buffet model also reduces staffing, in an era where restaurants are struggling to manage increasing wage and benefit costs.

While the salad bar remains the Q. Cumbers centerpiece, there are new side dishes on the hot bar, more vegan and vegetarian options, and to appeal to younger customers, a few pizzas, including a gluten-free option.

Since the reopening, sales are up 10 to 15 percent, McCabe says. Before the renovation, McCabe was seeing annual revenue of around $2.5 million.

McCabe says he has received requests over the years from customers who want him to open additional locations. He’s also been approached by investors wanting franchises. “I’ve been hesitant because of our lease expiring and the building needing repairs,” but now that’s in the past, he’s hoping that one or both of those options “will be an opportunity going forward.