St. Cloud has grown slowly but pretty consistently over the decades. The big jump came in 1990s. The population was less than 50,000. By the time 2000 rolled around, it had jumped to 60,000.

Throughout all the changes, there have been a few businesses and buildings that have survived it all. There are many residents, both inside the metro and outside the metro area, that have frequented them throughout. For many people, going into and even just driving by these establishments, sparks those memories from years ago.

We asked some Central Minnesotans what area business in the St. Cloud area brings their thoughts and feelings back to the days when their lives were a little simpler, and their worries were a little less. We asked the business or building still to be operational.

Here are what businesses, people said, brought back that nostalgia whenever they went there. Hopefully, someday soon, we will be able to shop them again and bring back that nostalgic feeling. A big thanks to the Stearns County History Museum for supplying some of the photos.

Paramount Theater

"Paramount Theatre" - Laura K. and Margaret

"I saw the original Star Wars there in 1977 when it as a movie theater" - Laura

The Paramount Theater you see today almost wasn't. After a fire in the 1980s, it was very close to getting torn down. Fortunately, it wasn't.

Photo: David Black
Stearns County History Museum

Skatin' Place

"The Skatin place for sure!" - Shawna S.

"The Skatin Place!" - Tracy L.

Adults and kids have been rolling around the Skatin Place since 1974, my children included. And as the years have passed and things have changed, Skatin Place as adapted.


Stearns County History Museum

Val's Hamburgers

"Val's and the Paramount theatre." Margaret B.

The nostalgic feeling comes surging through at this 'little burger joint that could'. If you've never been to Val's, do yourself a favor and go. It's as simple as it gets. For a place that has been around as long as they have, they never wanted to get any bigger than they are. You have to respect that.


Photo: David Black

The Red Carpet

"The Red Carpet. Hung out there all the time during my college years" - Dave T.

If you went to "The Carpet" back in the day, you know it was the place to be for live music and more. The downtown scene had a bunch of college kids, mixed with plenty of non-college kids, and it usually made for some 'interesting' nights. Add in the Bar-hopping all within a couple of block radius, and you've got a recipe for crazy nights.


Photo: David Black

Gopher Bargain Center

"Gopher Bargain Center" - Rick S

"Gopher Bargain Center. I went there when I was a kid. I was called Gopher Lumber and Supply. They even had a cafeteria in the corner where they served hotdogs for something like 10 cents." - John U.

It's no wonder why Gopher fires up those nostalgic feelings. If you're looking for something, anything, there's a good chance Gopher has it.

Gopher Bargain Center

MC's Dugout

"MC's Dugout. The first bar I ever DJ'd at in St. Cloud back in 1990. I think I was the 2nd DJ ever hired" - David B.

The building MC's sits in was built back in 1889, and there's a lot of history in one of St. Cloud's oldest buildings. Now, MC's is a great place for food, drinks, and trivia (well, it was and will be again)


Photo: David Black
Photo: David Black


Crossroads Center

People began shopping at Crossroads back in 1966. There was a radio station in the late '80s, early '90s by the north entrance. I always think of that when I walk past that area. It has seen many changes over the last 20 years with additions like a new food court.


Olde Brick House

"It's another place I spent a few years DJ'ing at when it was First Street Station back in the mid-'90s. Even though it's a different business, I still get a nostalgic feeling when I walk in there." - David B.

This Irish restaurant maybe one of the newer businesses on the list, but the building is one of the oldest. It was built back in 1890 and has seen many businesses set up shop with all of them being of the alcohol variety.


Photo: David Black

Brigitte's Cafe

"Brigitte's Cafe" - Lisa

Brigitte's used to be a Shakee's Pizza parlor over 20 years ago. It is now a favorite for many locals and has been for years.


Credit: Brad Bichler

Lincoln Depot

Famous for its train that runs up by the ceiling throughout the whole bar, The Lincoln Depot used to be called "The Dew Drop Inn." Many residents in the area call Lincoln Depot there watering hole.

In 1997, I lived two blocks from Lincoln Depot and would often stop for a cold one before heading home.


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