This is really Gordy’s Hi-Hat’s time to shine. The destination throwback restaurant in Cloquet has always been efficient with its order window and self-seating style. With a few modifications, the longtime family-owned biz has created a socially distanced experience that isn’t that different from a visit before the pandemic.
Mostly: The order window is now in your own car.
Many of the restaurant parking lot’s points of entry are blocked off — inspiring the angst of at least one driver of a fancy set of wheels — to create a single line into the lot.
Then you wait for a spot to open, and for a carhop-style of service.
During a recent weekend visit, the line was long, but the employee directing traffic — a man with a massive mess of wind-bait hair, which the restaurant celebrates on its Facebook page — assured driver after driver after driver that it would go quickly. And it did. We easily found a picnic table so we didn’t have to involve a steering wheel in the meal.
This go-round I swapped out the no-fail cheeseburger for a fish sandwich, battered Alaska cod piled like a cairn on a bun with lettuce and a side of Tarter sauce. It’s quite the haul of fish — which tastes like summer and campsites and fairgrounds and family. Speaking of fairgrounds, get the cheese curds.
We aren't the only ones into Gordy's Hi-Hat on a recent weekend. The restaurant's old friend Guy Fieri, who visited for an episode of "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" in 2010, returned for more filming. The crew made stops at other Northland restaurants as well.
411 Sunnyside Dr., Cloquet
Fish sandwich, $6.99; Wisconsin cheese curds, $4.99