From the ashes . . . A new Borderline Pizza

Is that what you remember? Dean Thompson is ready to cut this piping hot Borderline pizza for a customer. (Photo by Laura Berndt, St. Charles Press)

Is that what you remember? Dean Thompson is ready to cut this piping hot Borderline pizza for a customer. (Photo by Laura Berndt, St. Charles Press)

By Marcie Klomp

The area was stunned 17 years ago when residents learned Borderline Pizza in Chester had burned to the ground. The landmark business was known far and wide for its pizza, arcade and general ambiance.

Many conversations have begun when someone says, “Remember how good Borderline Pizza was?” Well, it can be experienced again, although the drive is a little further than it was before May 1995.

Dean “Deano” Thompson, a Chester native, has opened up a Borderline Pizza in St. Charles, Minn. “I talked to Jerry Sandry (original owner of Borderline) over two years ago about getting a contract for the name.” Well, it took a while, but his pizzeria is now a reality.

Thompson first tried to find a facility in Spring Valley but then found a building in St. Charles. “It took about six months with the contract and paperwork. I used my life savings and got a little loan.”

He spent some time fixing up the restaurant and turned the “open” light on Nov. 14. “I never advertised, I just turned on the sign and I sold 20 pizzas that night. People were lined up at the door. I think half the people in town had been to Chester.”

Through word-of-mouth and Facebook, he has had a good crowd. “It was nuts the first two weeks. It was total chaos. Now we are settling into a regular routine.”

Thompson has travelled a long road, literally, since he left Chester. He has always enjoyed cooking, which prompted him to purchase the bar just down the street from Chester’s Borderline in 1986. He sold Deano’s in 1993, went to school and then started trucking.

While trucking, Thompson started putting on a few pounds and began worrying about his health. The long hours on the road got him thinking about starting his own business and reminiscing about the good ol’ days in Chester.

He remembered being a fireman on that fateful day in 1995 when Borderline burned. “People were crying. It was a legend.” He thought about all the ethnic foods he’s cooked during Vikings football games at his home and how much he enjoys cooking.

So he took the plunge. Thompson and his staff trained for two weeks at Sandry’s Borderline establishment in Forest City, and he hasn’t regretted a single minute of it! There is another Borderline contract in Jackson, Minn.

“I’m getting carloads of people who drove from Chester, Harmony, Grand Meadow, Wykoff, Spring Valley, Ostrander and Cresco. They say it tastes exactly the same as they remember. A lot of people grew up on Borderline Pizza!”

He purchases all the pizza-making ingredients from Sandry but is constantly expanding the menu. “I’m making salads and pasta dishes that will maybe be noon specials. They are my own recipes, and I make my own soups.”

His restaurant at 930 Whitewater Ave. in St. Charles seats 70. He has an arcade on the main floor—not as extensive as the arcade at the Chester location, which filled the basement—but enough to keep the kids and their parents entertained while waiting on the piping hot home style, deep dish style pizza.

What else is there to do on these cold winter nights? Why not check out Deano’s Borderline Pizza? It is open Monday to Thursday from 3:00-9:00 and Friday through Sunday from noon-9:00. Call ahead at 507-932-8940. While there, you might see Thompson who is the self-proclaimed owner, cook and dishwasher.

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