The Woman Behind Cafe Maude


One of the things I love about the local eateries in Minneapolis is that they often have a story, and usually they are stories I didn’t know.

Cafe Maude in southwest Minneapolis, for example, was named after Maude Armatage, a woman basically forgotten to history. Enticed to do a little Googling, I learned that Maude was considered a driving force in helping Minneapolis come of age in the 20th century. Born in 1870 to a family whose farm is now the entire Armatage neighborhood in Minneapolis, her grandparents founded Harmony, which later became the city of Richfield. When she first married, she moved to South Minneapolis – an area that was considered the wilderness at that time.

black and white photo of maude armatage
Park Commissioner Maude Armatage, ca. 1925 (Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board)

In a biography of her life, Maude attributed her grandparents for her interest in public service. Her grandfather was the postmaster, town treasurer and the Justice of the Peace. Her grandmother founded the area’s first circulating library in her own sitting room while raising eight children. Maude continued their legacy. In 1921 (the year after women won the right to vote), Maude ran for Commissioner of the Minneapolis Park Board. She won the seat and held it for nearly three decades, retiring at age 81.


Maude is recognized for not only playing a role in founding our extensive park system and fostering the “greening” of our city, but also for her devotion to education. Her story is intriguing and inspiring – a reminder of uppity women everywhere that helped change the world for later generations.

The Cafe Maude menu says that Maude was known for living by the motto of “civilized leisure” and that is a great way to describe a meal there. Fresh, delicious and unique but comfortable, Cafe Maude should be on everyone’s list for an evening out.  And if you can’t make it for dinner, definitely stop for breakfast – you won’t be disappointed by that either.

Read more about Maude Armatage at the Southwest Journal.

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By Heidi Van Heel
Heidi Van Heel

Heidi Van Heel

Writer, freelancer, and believer in magic living in Minneapolis. In my free time, I love reading, exploring the great outdoors, and experimenting in the kitchen.

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