The Malt Shoppe Was a Delicious Mainstay In Downtown White Bear Lake

A view of Washington Avenue, ca. 1970.

In 1946, local contractor Archie LeMire purchased the former White Bear House property at the southeast corner of Fourth and Washington Avenue. The White Bear House had been one of the earliest hotels constructed when the railroad came through in the 1860s. Advantageously situated at the edge of the tracks, the hotel and saloon on its main floor operated successfully for many decades. On the southern portion of the property, nestled into the open area in front of the former hotel, LeMire constructed the Malt Shoppe, which quickly became a local favorite.  

For several years, the Malt Shoppe was operated by Ruth Jantzen, part of the family who also owned the Cabin Camps on the west shore of Goose Lake in the 1930s and ’40s, and later, Jantzen’s Motel at Highways 61 and 96, on the north end of town. The Cabin Camps operated as a burger joint and small cluster of cabins popular with tourists and St. Paul locals.

Jantzen ran the Malt Shoppe before shifting her focus to a coffee shop situated within the motel. By the 1960s, the Malt Shoppe became Mr. T Diner and was the quintessential small-town, lunch counter-style restaurant, even as many still remembered the milk shakes and malts for which the original establishment was so aptly named. As the years went on and Mr. T evolved to become the Cobblestone Cafe, the layout evolved a bit as well. The back wall of the diner was extended into what was part of the original hotel space to enlarge the seating capacity and outdoor dining was added during the warmer months. Today, one can still get a malt or milk shake at the Cobblestone just like they did back in the 1940s.

Sara Markoe Hanson is the executive director of the White Bear Lake Area Historical Society.

For more information on the Malt Shoppe, visit the website here or call 651.407.5327