Greg Ekbom looked uncomfortable at Day by Day Cafe, the restaurant he founded located at 477 West 7th St., on November 27. That’s because, instead of him being there for neighbors and friends like he has been for the past 48 years at the West 7th diner, the people were there for him.
November 26th marked Ekbom’s 50th year of sobriety, and his 48th year of business, and the restaurant was fast filling with people to celebrate.
A long-time employee at Day by Day, Saul Garcia, said wanted to mark the occasion by surprising Ekbom because he has meant so much to the recovery community, and the West 7th community, in St. Paul. He contacted the Mayor’s office to have November 26, 2023 officially recognized as “Greg Ekbom Day” in the city.
Ekbom started Day by Day 48 years ago on West 7th (it’s been in its current location since 1980) as a way to give back to the recovery community. It has long been a place to support people struggling with sobriety getting back into the workforce and has even hosted recovery meetings, before they moved to St. Stanislav’s Church because they “got too big,” according to Ekbom. Even the name comes from one of the tenents of sobriety, being able to take your recovery “day by day.”
Ekbom, who is now “mostly retired” and lives in Osceola, Wis., said he still comes down to the cafe a few times a week that is now owned by his kids John and Gena Ekbom.
Despite being 50 years into his recovery, Ekbom said he still attends meetings near his home in Osceola, but that he will be attending one in the neighborhood this week.
“I’m getting a pin for 50 years,” he said.