This classic Twin Cities restaurant is still family run – but it's a different family now

The Casper family bows out after 47 years
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The place that was known for decades as Casper's Cherokee Sirloin Room is still serving sirloin. But it's no longer owned by the Caspers. 

For 47 years the West St. Paul dining institution was owned first by Bob and Dorothy Casper, then by their sons Jim and Rick.

These days – just like when it started in 1933 – it's known as the Cherokee Tavern. And even though the brothers who grew up there sold it in July, the place is still going strong under new owners Brian and Mollie Rubenzer. In fact they've got three kids of their own who are likely to spend a good chunk of their childhood there. 

It was 1987 when the Casper brothers bought the Cherokee from their parents, who'd owned it since 1970. 

The place that originally seated only 60 people went through a series of expansions over the decades. The most recent one brought back the Cherokee Tavern name, as well as antique lights from the '30s, hardwood floors, and a stage, the restaurant's website says.

“The legacy of the family business loomed very large as we thought about this," Jim Casper told the Pioneer Press. "It was a very, very difficult decision to sell," he added. 

But Casper says the Rubenzers seemed like the right fit as new owners and Brian tells the paper “We’re keeping the name and the nostalgia.”

Former Winter Carnival ice carving champ

Brian Rubenzer's bio relates that after studying the culinary arts at St. Paul College he and a fellow chef won the Winter Carnival ice carving competition in 2002. 

After he and Mollie married they lived in South Carolina for awhile. Family ties pulled them back to Minnesota but the south gave him some additions to his repertoire including a VooDoo Shrimp recipe he recently shared with KARE 11.

The Rubenzers have been running a catering business for 13 years. 

The Casper brothers, by the way, continue to own a second Cherokee location, which they opened in Eagan in 1991. 

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