The Stri-King Cafe and Lanes offers coffee, community, and bowling
Photo credit: Sabrina Hornung
Upon entering Stri-King Lanes and Cafe, one is greeted with an air of nostalgia with its midcentury era red vinyl-topped stools lining the breakfast counter, wood paneled walls and no-nonsense decor.
It’s reminiscent of the now rapidly disappearing small town cafes of my youth. The warmth of the AM radio emits classic country songs while three generations of hunters sit in their camouflage and blaze orange duds enjoying heaping plates of pancakes, eggs and bacon.
Friendly chatter reestablishes the importance of the small-town cafe as a social gathering space, as all of the customers pour the communal self-serve tea and coffee.
Joann Bloomquist works busily in the open kitchen managing their orders with ease over the flat-top grill and Natalie the lone waitress dutifully takes orders.
The small cafe and bowling alley is located in Hannaford North Dakota on Hwy 1 North, a small farming community nestled in the lush rolling hills of the Sheyenne River Valley. It has been a fixture there for the past 48 years.
Bloomquist said business picks up slightly during hunting season. “It’s not like it used to be--that’s dwindling too.” She went on to say, “Many of the school children that are graduating are not staying in the farming industry. They go on to college and don’t come back.”
She says they get a good crowd for league bowling, though unfortunately the crowd for open bowling is much smaller. Area schools occasionally bus elementary age children in to bowl on certain mornings.
She went on to say, “When they get big enough for league bowling--if they have a junior league then maybe those kids will come in.”
The cafe is known for their home cooked meals and is no stranger to serving special dinners: league bowling banquets in the spring, the senior citizen’s banquet in the fall, and a host of Christmas parties. “It’s small enough so it’s cozy for them.” She said, her friendly eyes sparkling.
As we spoke she was just getting ready to heat up some raisin bread pudding for the pie case. The finished product would be topped with a generous dollop of real whipped cream. On any other day the cafe would have a host of baked goods ready for purchase but today was different.
“We won’t have too much of a volume of people today because we want them to go to the school for a function for the Legion Auxiliary. It’s kind of telling them to go over there and spend your money instead of here -- it’s just cool to help them out.” Bloomquist said.
The former school building also serves as a community and business space and was hosting a fundraiser for the local chapter of the American Legion that day. The event included a lunch, bake sale, and craft fair.
When asked if Bloomquist was from the area she said, “I lived in the area my first 32 years, I was gone 28 years and stayed in the same business, food and beverage, as when I left. I then retired and moved back home to North Dakota.”
Upon coming back, she said with a smile, “I was happy to be back to the smaller community--even the climate. You see, I lived in Arizona--the older I got, I didn’t care about the heat anymore. I’d rather be back to seasonal changes.
When I got back here I didn’t expect anybody I knew to have gotten older. I wanted them to be the same, but it didn’t happen--they aged as well as me. It was the reconnecting of ones that I had left and even with relatives and lots of friends. I wasn’t familiar with the whole community of Hannaford but I got to know them!”
YOU SHOULD KNOW
Stri-King Cafe and Lanes
350 Wheat Street, Hannaford ND
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