MINNEAPOLIS - The venerable Lenten fish fry has moved outside of church basements and school halls. Commercial restaurants are now part of the Minnesota fish fry fanaticism.
"I kind of decide on the things that I like and there were great fish fries growing up and I knew in this area, I did not know of one," said Dan Magnuson, 38, owner of Carbone's Pizza on Cedar Avenue in South Minneapolis.
Since Magnuson found a scarce supply of fish frys nearby, he started his own. His restaurant is known for thin crust pizza, but now includes a 10 ounce dinner of fried Alaskan Cod on the menu. However, it is available only on Fridays and only during Lent.
Magnuson uses Summit Beer for his thin beer-batter recipe. All of his fish is fried to order and served with chips (fries), cole slaw, buttered rye bread and sauces, just like he remembered from his youth. It not only satisfies his cravings, it helps the bottom line of his business.
"I started last Friday and each Friday it (demand) about doubles," said Magnuson.
Mac's Fish and Chips on Larpenteur Avenue in Saint Paul sells a lot of fish every day, but this season from Ash Wednesday to Easter is special.
"On a Friday during Lent, we usually see about three times as many people than we do on a standard Friday," said Tom Flanagan, 24, of Mac's. Tom and his father, Dan, own the corner fish location.
They offer cod, walleye and halibut as well as fried chicken. However, do not come looking for the chicken on a Lenten Friday. The fryers are all tied up with fish.
"I mean, Saint Paul," laughed Flanagan, "we got a lot of us Catholics running around. So, we definitely eat it up on Fridays."
Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church on 12th Avenue South in Minneapolis continues the old church tradition.They servefish dinners in the school gym every Friday. In parishes like Our Lady of Peace, the events are still feeding the faithful and the parish budget.