Business staying ‘Current’ in AftonAfter 45 years as a downtown Afton staple, the Catfish Saloon & Café has gotten a facelift and a new name. Current, located adjacent to the Afton House, reopened for business at the end of March after being closed for a month and a half for a total remodeling.
By: By Amber Kispert and Randy Hanson, Hudson Star-Observer
After 45 years as a downtown Afton staple, the Catfish Saloon & Café has gotten a facelift and a new name.
Dave and Dan Jarvis, sons of Afton House Inn owners Gordy and Kathy Jarvis, have taken over the restaurant from their parents and made the Catfish much more, well, current.
“It was sort of bittersweet, but it was needed,” Dave Jarvis said of the change. “We wanted to bring a little energy to the community — something fresh.”
Current, located adjacent to the Afton House, reopened for business at the end of March after being closed for a month and a half for a total remodeling.
Builder and designer Bruce Lenzen of Hudson gutted the space to the studs and created a restaurant that Jarvis describes as “casual, but cool.”
“It was really important to us to make something that had a lot of energy and was alive,” he said. “We wanted to have some unique elements. We didn’t want the same old run-of-the-mill, what everyone else is doing.”
A waterfall greets customers at the door and the restrooms feature unique catch basins for the faucet water. The windows have been enlarged to bring more light into the room, enhancing the rich wood trim and furnishings.
Jarvis said they wanted to create an environment where people will feel comfortable in jeans (or shorts and flip-flops in the summer), but also classy enough that they won’t feel out of place if they’re dressed up.
The restaurant has standard low tables, high-top tables, a bar, a fireplace and an outdoor patio.
“What we’re creating down here is what people have been asking for,” Jarvis said. “We want a place with some life, we want some energy, we want a cool place to go with really good food. “
The restaurant’s tagline is “Alive. Fresh. Inspired.”
On the menu
Dan Jarvis said Current’s head chef, Marc Paavola, has created an almost entirely new menu for the restaurant — featuring fresh, organic and locally grown ingredients.
About half the items are gluten-free, and are identified as such on the menu.
“Our culinary team has a passion for scratch cooking, using only the best ingredients,” Jarvis said. “We’re making sauces and dressings and everything from scratch versus pre-buying.”
Some of the items on Current’s menu include: sushi, fondue, burgers, flatbread pizza, grilled Ahi tuna, Tahitian barbecued ribs and New York strip steak.
Entrees range in price from $14 to $23.
But you can also get a soup and sandwich lunch for $6 — or a small plate, salad, flatbread, sandwich or burger at a price in between the lunch special and an entrée.
In a commitment to offering healthy options, fruit or edamame (deliciously seasoned soybeans) can be substituted for fries with the sandwiches.
French fry lovers will want to try the truffle or sweet potato fries.
Dave Jarvis said few of the menu items are prepared in the deep fryer, but are broiled, grilled, baked and sauteed.
He said Current will be supporting a lot of locally owned and operated farms.
“That’s sort of a fundamental principal behind our menu planning - free range products, natural, organic, local,” he said. “There’s so much crap out there that I don’t want to feed my own kids, so why would I want anything different for a customer.”
At the bar
In addition to the food menu, Current’s bar menu will be unique.
“We wanted to have fun with the beer and wine selection,” Dave Jarvis said.
In terms of the beer list, Jarvis said they offer a lot of local craft beers and micro-brews such as Lift Bridge beer from Stillwater, Rush River ale from River Falls and Brau Bros. Scotch ales.
Jarvis said Current serves wines ranging from $5 for a glass of the LaTerre Chardonnay all the way to $18 for a glass of the Brumello Di Montalcino.
Current uses a unique wine tap system in which argon gas is circulated in order to keep the wines fresher longer.
“If you go to a restaurant, I don’t care what restaurant it is, you have no idea how long that bottle has been open, and how it’s tasting,” he said. “This system allows us to keep wine fresh for weeks.”
Gordy and Kathy Jarvis have been operating the Afton House Inn and its companion businesses since 1976.
The Afton House, which opened in 1867, is the oldest hotel in continuous operation in Minnesota. It now offers 25 bed and breakfast style rooms, most with Jacuzzi tubs and some with balconies overlooking the St. Croix River.
The inn also offers fine dining, including table-side cooking, in the Wheel Room and Pennington Room.
In addition, the Jarvises operate Afton-Hudson Cruise Lines, including the 350-passenger Grand Duchess boat based in Hudson. Their other recent ventures are the Afton Bean coffee cafe and Swirl Wine Bar, also located in the Afton House complex.
Dave, 35, and Dan, 32, grew up in the hospitality business and went to work for their parents after completing college. They’ve been stepping up their management roles in recent years. Both are married and have children.
Dan was a resident of Hudson for six years before returning to Lakeland, Minn., a couple of years ago.
Where to find it
The Current is located in the heart of downtown Afton at 3291 St. Croix Trail South. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. in April.
In May, Current will be open seven days a week, and introduce a Saturday breakfast from 8 to 11 a.m. and a Sunday brunch from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
You can learn much more about the restaurant on its Facebook page, www.facebook.com/currentrestaurant, or website, www.currentrestaurant.com.