Market Street Diner landed in Sun Prairie 15 years ago, established its roots and started the downtown revitalization trend.
Now the restaurant is refocusing its efforts solely on breakfast and lunch, bringing in new menus to evolve with the times and keep up with the competition.
In February, the diner closed for two weeks, upgrading its kitchen, testing new foods and gather up ingredients.
With the reopening, the diner is keeping true to its classic American diner spirit with new modern reinventions, said Tom Ray, managing partner of Food Fight, the restaurant group that owns Market Street Diner. The diner will close at 3 p.m. daily, saying so long to dinner.
“Breakfast and lunch are what we did best, so we decided to lean into that and make it as best as we can,” Ray said.
The shift to cage-free eggs, higher quality meats, and new in-house made breads, are the foundations. Then Ray and his team sought out more ingredients.
“We called all our purveyors and told them we want the best stuff that you can get us and sat down for a tasting,” Ray said.
Uphoff Farm, near McFarland, supplies the ham, bacon is from Fort Atkinson-based Jones Dairy and Usinger’s, the landmark Milwaukee company, provides the sausage and corned beef. That line-up added to the high-quality products from Sassy Cow Creamery that the diner was already serving.
Sun Prairie’s population has been spiraling upwards since Market Street Diner and Bakery opened in 2005. Apartments, restaurants, and bars have brought on renewal and will be boosted more as the Bristol and Main Street redevelopment takes shape.
The circa-2005 Market Street Diner was built to serve the customer base that existed then, but now as demographics shift, Ray said, the restaurant wants to appeal to a younger crowd also. As excitement continues to grow in downtown Sun Prairie, Ray said Market Street Diner wants to be a destination for hungry visitors.
“We anticipate pulling people out from Madison for breakfast with really good ingredients, cooked really well,” Ray said.
Executive chef Tony Hargrove, a Sun Prairie resident, came onboard to boost the Sun Prairie diner’s new concept. Hargrove has worked at fine dining steakhouses for years but came to MSD to be part of a family-friendly restaurant.
Jeff Baldridge is director of operations for Market Street Diner. Ray said the team came together as it closed down the restaurant for two weeks, to train, upgrade the kitchen and do routine maintenance.
Food Fight’s Bassett Street Brunch Club, launched in Madison in 2013, inspired some of the menu changes at Market Street Diner.
“We want to stay traditional with breakfast diner classics but added other entrees that have a modern spin on them,” Ray said.
Migas, eggs scrambled with avocado salsa, pico de gallo, radishes, and cilantro and topped off with pork carnitas was added to the menu, alongside a whole line of Benedicts, new pancake recipes, and breakfast sandwiches. The new English muffins baked in-house from scratch are the foundations of the new Bennys (Benedict), adorned with choices of country ham, barbecue pulled-pork, and fried tomatoes.
“We developed the Bennys so when they are set in front of people, they are starstruck by them,” Ray said.
A new line-up of omelets are now whipped with milkshake machine spindles to make them fluffy and then baked in the oven.
Slushy-style cocktails were brought from the Bassett Street Brunch Club playbook with frozen screwdrivers and a strawberry-spiked mimosa now available at Market Street Diner.
Fish fry is still on the menu but now served every day. Other diner classics have a re-do—an open-face meatloaf stack is nearly eight inches high.
The griddled smash burgers, with 100 percent Angus beef, have taken over for the Market Street lunch menu, alongside the Ruebens, Rachels, BLAT and chicken sandwiches. Ray said higher quality meats and the in-house baked breads have skyrocketed the burgers’ flavor. Homemade soups and salads round out the menu. Pies, cupcakes and cheesecakes, all Market Street Diner classics, are also offered.
Carl’s Cakes, that shares operation with Market Street Diner, hasn’t changed but Ray said to expect cutting-edge cake designs and flavors in the future.
Most people may not know that Market Street Diner kitchens produce hundreds of meals a week for the Meals on Wheels senior meal delivery program. Ray said the business also donated food to local non-profits and participates in local Business Improvement District (BID) events, all to strengthen the downtown area and the community.
Diners have been part of downtown Sun Prairie’s landscape since the 40s. Market Street Diner, with a new modern spin, is intent on continuing that tradition, Ray said.
“We want to be part of the community, a place for families, a place to celebrate,” Ray said. “We have that responsibility to be that gathering place for people in Sun Prairie.”
Market Street Diner is located at 110 Market St in downtown Sun Prairie.
Get more info at marketstreetdiner.com and on Facebook.