Bread pudding helped make Charlie Carpenter famous

Cliff Buchan
News Editor

During a decade of running a downtown restaurant, there was one thing about Charlie Carpenter that few diners would dispute. He had the best bread pudding in town.

Owning a restaurant was not first nature to Carpenter, but he took to the business with passion. Carpenter, who spent 10 years in Forest Lake with Charlie’s Place, passed away Monday, May 7, 2012. He was 91.

Carpenter spent most of his work life as a machinst and tool and die maker. That changed in 1979 when he purchased the Square Peg Restaurant in Minneapolis which he ran for just under four years.

Long a Forest Lake resident, Carpenter elected to stay at home. He sold his Minneapolis eatery in 1983 and purchased the Lakeview Inn & Deli which had started as a pie shop. He changed the name to Charlie’s Place and spent the next decade serving food and that famous bread pudding.

How good was it? On one occasion the taste editor of the Minneapolis Star and Tribune wrote to Carpenter asking for the recipe which the editor said would be published. He declined the offer, saying perhaps he would share it at a later time.

“It took many years of experimenting and refining to arrive at a recipe like that,” Carpenter told the Forest Lake Times.

The legacy of Charlie’s Place continues today. After he left the downtown eatery, the restaurant became Bernie’s Cafe and then Dona Le’s Cafe. Downtown redevelopment brought an end to Dona Le’s but its legacy continued with what is today Carly’s Cafe one block south.

About Carpenter

Charles Lee “Charlie” Carpenter was born in Deer Lodge, MT on March 15, 1921. He was in ninth grade when his family moved to Minnesota.

Following his retirement from the restaurant business, he spent time tending to his lawn and flower gardens. He still spent time in the kitchen making baked goods that became gifts to friends.

A funeral service was Friday, May 11 at Forest Lake  Christian Church. Interment was at Cedar Hill Cemetery, Forest Lake.

He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Donna; children, Ken (Joanne), Larry, Terri (Randy) Cohrs, Jody (Neil) Cowdin; four grandchildren, Kyle Griffin, Corissa Hermsen, Kelsea Chamberlin and Jennifer Carpenter; siblings, Luella Poe, Effie Peterson Mary Walsten.

He was preceded in death by his parents; one daughter, Janine Marie; four siblings, Mae Baxter, Emery Carpenter, Calvin Carpenter and Dave Carpenter.