ST. PAUL — Greg Ekbom’s dream of starting a restaurant that
would give recovering drug and alcohol addicts a chance at success
began more than 35 years ago when he was a student at the former
Northeast Metro Technical College, which is now Century College.

recovering addict and 1968 graduate of White Bear High School, Ekbom
founded the popular Day by Day Café on West Seventh Street in St. Paul
after studying how to prepare food at Northeast Metro. The café has a
funky, art-and-plant-filled atmosphere and is a popular destination for
people who want hearty breakfasts and lunches. It does not serve
alcohol and is not open for dinner.

“I was newly sober and
excited about nearly everything,” said Ekbom, who went through
treatment in the early 1970s. “Life was not as bad as I had imagined
it, and I was ready to do something productive.”

After working
at various restaurant jobs between 1965 and 1973, including a stint at
the lunch counter in the old Snyder’s Drug Store on Bellaire Avenue in
White Bear Lake, Ekbom studied food preparation at Northeast Metro in

Then a treatment center asked him to go into a partnership
and open the first Day by Day Cafe in an old railroad car on West
Seventh Street, offering people in recovery a chance to work in an
alcohol-free environment. They named it Day by Day because it reflects
the recovery community’s philosophy of recovering from addiction one
day at a time.

Ekbom worked in the first Day by Day for about
four years, and then in 1980 bought the old brick building where the
restaurant is now located. The 1882-vintage building had been condemned
and Ekbom purchased it at an auction.

kitchen was upgraded in 1990 and Ekbom built an addition featuring
books and booths in 1996. A funky back deck with a fountain was added
in 1997. Ekbom and a friend did most of the work. Ekbom’s daughter,
Gena, now manages the café and his son, John, works there, too.

about a third of the employees at the café are in recovery. Ekbom said
it used to be that 50 to 70 percent were recovering addicts. Things
changed, he said, partly because some treatment centers prefer their
clients to spend additional time at the center rather than working in
the community.

Over the years, Ekbom said a lot of “wonderful,
creative people” have gotten back on their feet while working at the
Day by Day. “It is good for them to work in a restaurant that doesn’t
sell alcohol,” said Ekbom.

Ekbom keeps in touch with a number of
former employees, some of whom lived in the six apartments located
above the café.Ekbom still attends recovery meetings and recovery
groups still hold sessions at the Day by Day.
“I like hiring people in recovery,” he said. “Once they get sober, they make world-class employees.”

Most Recent Blog Posts

5 Ways To Forgive Yourself In Recovery

    Sometimes, in active addiction, we do things we aren’t proud of. We may have hurt the ones we love, do things we are ashamed of, and caused harm to ourselves. We may feel guilty, embarrassed, and angry. Although you may have gotten substance abuse treatment and are...

    Read More

    Recognizing A Problem With Alcohol

      It can be fun and relaxing to go out for drinks with your friends on Friday nights after a long work week or have a cocktail before bed. Many people drink alcohol and do so regularly, but how do you know when your drinking has become a problem? When many of us think...

      Read More

      Which 12-Step Program Is Right For Me?

        12-Step programs are a common part of addiction recovery. Many treatment programs utilize a 12-Step approach, and many of those recovering choose to attend meetings after they complete their treatment. Attending meetings can help individuals maintain their recovery...

        Read More


        21062 Brookhurst St. #201, Huntington Beach, CA 92646

        ©2021 All Rights Reserved. Design & Development by Goldman Marketing Group | Sitemap | Privacy Policy The information available on this web site is provided for informational purposes only. This information is not intended to replace a medical consultation where a physician's judgment may advise you about specific disorders, conditions and or treatment options. We hope the information will be useful for you to become more educated about your health care decisions. If you are vision-impaired or have some other impairment covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act or a similar law, and you wish to discuss potential accommodations related to using this website, please contact us at