ST. STEPHEN -- Trobec's Bar and Grill in St. Stephen has been hosting an annual chicken fry on the first Tuesday in June for the last 78 years.

Ray Trobec owns the restaurant that his father Joseph Trobec opened in 1936 along Central Avenue South.

Ray says the chicken fry started as a way to raise money to help pay for the bar's liquor license. "He (Joseph) had to raise money to pay for his liquor license. They didn't have insurance at that time. He put it on a Tuesday so the rest of the bar owners could make it," says Ray.

Chickens were prepared from Ray's grandfather's farm. The first year they served up about 50 chickens. Today, the event sells anywhere from 1,200 chickens to 1,800 chickens and draws hundreds of people from around central Minnesota.

Ray admits that he moved the event to a Saturday one year and the turnout was less than ideal. He says it's better to have the chicken fry on a Tuesday because there are fewer activities to compete with.

The event is truly a family affair. Ray's granddaughter Natasha Trobec has been helping with the event since she was seven years old. She's 17 years old now and says, "It's kind of like a tradition...especially for St. Stephen...It's fun to waitress different people." She continues people tell her they've been coming to the chicken fry for years.

David Augustine has been attending the chicken fry for about seven years. He says the chicken is great and next year will have special significance, "now next year...I think June 2nd which is a two is going to be on Tuesday at two. So, I'm going to make sure to come."

Half of a chicken is served with potato salad, a dinner roll, relish and coffee or milk. Ray says the fixings are good but the chicken is what draws people in. If you ask Ray for the recipe, he won't tell you. "It's a secret," laughs Ray.

Ray says one of his favorite things about the chicken fry is getting the community together. He says he catches up with old friends and community members each year at the chicken fry. "It's like a reunion," says Ray.


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