Alumnus brings taste of the Caribbean to his hometown
October 13, 2017
Step into colorful San Pedro Cafe in Hudson,
across the St. Croix River from the Twin Cities metro area, and one wouldn’t guess
that the owner grew up in town working at a bakery and then a classic
steak-chicken-burgers bar and grill.
From the warm, sun-inspired décor to the laid-back
vibe to the tantalizing and spicy menu options, San Pedro Cafe is a veritable
Caribbean-Jamaican food island in the Upper Midwest.
Pete Foster, a 1993 UW-Stout hospitality
graduate, had a hunch that Hudson, a small town with big city influences, was
ready for something different when he and his business partner opened San Pedro
Cafe in 2000.
Seventeen years later, it’s going so strong
that it has spawned a second establishment, Pedro’s Del Este, or “to the east,”
separated by only an outdoor eating area. Pedro’s Del Este opened recently to capture
some of the wait-list traffic from San Pedro Cafe, but it is open later, has
more of a lounge feel and the menu skews toward Cuban and Latin-themed options.
After starting his career working banquets
in the hotel industry, Foster is loving life as a restaurateur. He also owns Barker’s
Bar & Grill, where he grew up as a jack-of-all-trades and paid for his
UW-Stout education. Barker’s is across the street from San Pedro Cafe in
Barker’s, in fact, brought Foster back to
Hudson when the namesake owner wanted to spend more time sailing in the
Caribbean — the seed for San Pedro Cafe — and needed a business partner.
“I couldn’t be happier with how things have
turned out, and I’ve had a lot of support from family and friends,” said
Foster, also a partner in the Tamarack Tap Room in nearby Woodbury, Minn. “I
get excited about running my own business and making my own decisions.”
He and his wife, Laura, have four daughters
and love to vacation in Key West, Fla. After a recent trip to Cuba, they
brought back original artwork and hundreds of photos for Pedro’s Del Este.
Foster is quick to credit others for his
success, such as his hospitality professors at UW-Stout. He calls his 150
employees, led by Director of Restaurant Operations Susie Halverson, his most important
business asset. “The whole hospitality piece is what really drives me. That’s
why we focus on customer service. The employees are the ones who make it
possible. If the employees are not enjoying their job and representing me the
way I want them to, we fail,” he said.
San Pedro Cafe opened after two years of
renovations in a building that housed the Bank of Hudson in 1872. Now, are
drawn there for blackened fish tacos, Yucatan pork stew, Jamaican jerk chicken,
spiced red grouper, Cuban meatloaf or specialty wood-fired pizza or pasta and
various other entrees, sandwiches, salads and appetizers.
While the restaurant has won a vault full of
awards, from Trip Advisor, Wine Spectator, Minnesota Monthly, Minneapolis-St.
Paul magazine and others, Foster is most proud of the several hundred positive customer
reviews on Trip Advisor and Yelp. “That’s the real deal by real customers,
accolades from people who keep us open every day,” he said.
Foster owns the award-winning San Pedro Cafe in Hudson, near the Twin Cities,
along with two other establishments in the city’s downtown. He poses in Pedro’s
Del Este, a new establishment next to San Pedro Cafe.
Middle: San Pedro Cafe once was a bank in downtown Hudson.
Foster, front row center, with some of his staff at San Pedro Cafe.