Cornerstone Buffet & Restaurant | Melrose, MN

Cornerstone Buffet & Restaurant | Melrose, MN

A Place to Congregate that Nourishes Body And Soul

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Steve Danzl, like so many before him, began working in the restaurant industry in his teens to earn some spending money, and found out early that this was the business for him. He earned a degree in restaurant management from the University of Minnesota. Danzl also found out early that he had tremendous religious faith, which is why he decided to name his central Minnesota restaurant, “Cornerstone.” “Faith is the cornerstone of my life and my business,” Danzl said. “I love this business, and I wanted my restaurant to be a welcoming, warm place where people feel comfortable – the cornerstone of the neighborhood in my rural community of Melrose.” The Cornerstone Buffet & Restaurant has a rustic, cabin feel, with the added warmth and romance of a gorgeous floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace in the center of the dining room.

Cornerstone is famous for its 14-foot salad bar and a hot-bar buffet that features different specials each day of the week. For example, Tuesday is Comfort Food Day, and “Grandma’s Favorites” are on the menu, including slow-roasted turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, dressing, tater-tot hot dish (a Minnesota fave), baked meat loaf, and more. Thursday, Minnesota’s German heritage is celebrated with cabbage rolls, German potato balls, pork schnitzel, sausage and kraut, pork ribs, potato pancakes and German chocolate cake. Saturday evening offers a tempting selection that never fails to bring folks around — BBQ chicken, smoked BBQ ribs and beef brisket, and beef prime rib. The dessert bar displays homemade pies, cakes, bars, apple crisp, cookies and the fantastic allure of soft-serve ice cream with lots of toppings for customization.

Guests may opt for the salad bar and buffet, or order chef-created dinner platters off of the menu.  Walleye, that beloved Midwest lake fish, is a big winner, as well as the fried chicken dinner. Doors are open each day from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The breakfast menu is available all day, which has always been a big draw. “Our goal each day is to put the very best products in front of our customers,” said Danzl. “We are passionate about what we call ‘fresh and full,’ which refers to the constant replenishing of our salad bar and buffet. Quality must be maintained throughout the day.”

Danzl has his finger on the pulse of his customer base. “We’re in a predominantly agricultural area. Our customers include local business people, farmers wanting a hearty home-cooked meal, construction workers, families, vacationers and people just traveling through. I’ve observed that more and more people are showing a preference for organic products, and are willing to try grains such as quinoa. We began introducing organics into our salad bar about a year ago. Customers immediately let us know that they appreciated the fact. People also want naturally raised beef, pork and chicken – no hormones, no antibiotics. That’s the way the industry is moving. That’s what people want. We want to deliver, and Reinhart is helping us with that.”

Catering is a highly profitable branch of Danzl’s business – everything from off-site weddings to in-house business meetings. Danzl also operates Cornerstone Deli and Market in Albany, Minnesota. His Cornerstone Buffet & Restaurant has one franchisee in Sartell, and the company is interested in exploring future franchise opportunities.


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