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Solar Drive-In offers more than standard fare

Cooking classes under way at Springfield restaurant

September 26, 2011
By Fritz Busch - Staff Writer , The Journal

SPRINGFIELD - The scent of fresh, baked bread and a variety of cheeses and vegetables is discernible as you walk into the Solar Drive-In on Highway 14 on the west end of Springfield.

A video screen above the restaurant counter is running, showing how to prepare baked hot wraps.

Idaho natives Deanne and Steve Bryce moved to Minnesota in 2006 from the Philadelphia area to work for the Schwan Food Company.

Article Photos

Staff photo by Fritz Busch
Deanne and Steve Bryce stand behind the Solar Drive-In counter, underneath a video screen showing how to prepare food.

While taking cooking classes at Southwest Minnesota State University in 2008, Steve Bryce learned a Springfield drive-in restaurant was for sale.

The couple bought the Solar Drive-In and opened it for the summer before remodeling it for year-round service. They retained the drive-in name, but car hops are not part of the business.

The Bryces are spicing up things by offering cooking classes.

From 6-8 p.m. on Thursdays from September through May, Solar offers hands-on cooking class featuring regional "comfort" foods and Far East flavors.

Mirepoix, a mix of aromatic vegetables, is used to create tomato sauce. Chicken noodle soup is made with homemade noodles.

Recipes and sample tasting is included in the class taught by Deanne and Steve's son Luke.

A surprise dish, which could be another comfort food or exotic-flavored dish, completes the two-hour class.

Meal preparation sessions from 6-8 p.m. begin Tuesday, Sept. 27. Participants shop, chop, dice and create dishes that are taken home, frozen and later finished in an oven, stove or slow cooker.

Light snacks are sampled before and/or after classes.

Earlier this fall, Steve attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. to further his cooking skills.

"I studied with people from all over the world, Spain, the Caribbean, even the Philippine Islands, learning how to cook vibrant dishes of Latin and South America, Mexico and the Caribbean," he added.

Deanne Bryce said the restaurant has received lots of local and area support as well as tourists.

"Brown County has been a great place to do business. We get strong local support and visitors who stop in New Ulm and Walnut Grove for the Laura Ingalls Wilder site," Deanna Bryce said.

Restaurant hours during the school year are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday; and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at



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