On Monday, September 10, members of the NDDC Board paid a visit to the Quarterback Club in Northfield to congratulate owner Dale Finger on the 50th anniversary year of the restaurant. We had a fine time listening to stories of the restaurant’s history and taking pictures for posterity.
The Quarterback Club was originally part of a 20-store franchise organization that was founded by a group of Minnesota investors including some of the early Minnesota Vikings football players. The Northfield store was opened in the spring of 1968. Dale started working there as a high school student ten years later and eventually bought the restaurant in the early 80s. He’s had a successful 40-year run with no end in sight. He told us that many folks predicted his demise with the explosion of fast food restaurants in Northfield during the 80s and 90s.
First, they said that Kentucky Fried Chicken would do him in. Didn’t happen. Then they said that McDonald’s would sink him. Nope! Next, Hardee’s, Burger King and Wendy’s. He survived them all. Kentucky Fried Chicken even opened a second time in Northfield just a couple of years ago. That didn’t work out so well either. They closed less than 12 months into their run.
Dale told us that his secret to success can be found in the following four words: “Good food. Good service.” Perhaps another reason is the dedicated service of his employees. We learned that Steve and Lorie Estrem have worked at the restaurant for more than 45 years! They started at the Quarterback Club before Dale did and they stayed with him after he became their employer. That’s an amazing commitment!