When the folks behind a barbecue counter inside a northeast Minneapolis deli came to work on Oct. 30, they found out that their business had gone up in smoke. A morning fire destroyed everything.
But it was a blessing in disguise for Bark and the Bite, which got its start as a food truck in 2015 and expanded a year later to a counter in Sunny’s Market & Deli on University Avenue NE.
They are now taking over the former St. Paul restaurant Heirloom, which closed last August. Bark and the Bite will open the first week of April (2186 Marshall Av., St. Paul, 651-528-7928, barkandthebite.com).
“We knew right away when we saw this place that this is where we wanted to be — with a new fire beneath us, so to speak,” said Bark and the Bite business manager Mark Myers.
The official cause of the fire is undetermined. The food truck, which was parked outside the deli, had been cleaned out the night before and every bit of equipment was inside the deli when the fire broke out, “down to every spoon and bowl,” Myers said. The truck survived, but the business also lost 1,000 pounds of food they had on hand for a catering event.
“It was surreal,” Myers said. “It was kind of panic-inducing not having any clue how we were going to make it through, but once we found the location we are in now, it changed.”
Their new home is made up of two buildings that had previously merged. The new tenants will make one side into a takeout counter. The other will house the kitchen and a full-size dining room with a bar.
“There’ll be large tables modeled after the great barbecue places that exist in the South,” Myers said. “We want people to feel welcome to hang out in there and just make it into a nice big dining room.”
Chef Noah Miller’s smoked meat menu is expanding with the addition of a new, state-of-the-art smoker. He’ll be adding smoked turkey to the menu, along with new sides, such as collard greens and macaroni and cheese.
“Noah feels like he’s been playing on a hand-me-down violin the last few years,” Myers said, “and somebody bought him a nice instrument.”