What is it with Minneapolis museum restaurants?
First the Walker Art Center’s Gather drops its lunch service. Now Grain Stack, the newly remade restaurant at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (and a significant improvement from its predecessor) is going on summer vacation.
“Our new food service model is based on being financially sustainable, so when our traffic is slower (such as this summer), we won’t operate the mezzanine-level restaurant, as it would require us to subsidize the operation and that is not the best use of our contributed resources,” reads a memorandum to museum staff and volunteers.
“After the success of the MIA + Stock and Badge’s Grain Stack operation which served thousands of MIA visitors during the Rock the Cradle, Art in Bloom, and Matisse: Masterworks from the Baltimore Museum of Art, the mezzanine-level restaurant will now close for the summer effective Tuesday, June 10,” reads the statement.
Fear not, hungry art lovers: Stock and Badge’s other MIA food-and-drink operations will remain open, including the Dogwood Coffee bar (and its great two-for-one craft beer happy hour) and the family-friendly, grab-and-go Half Pint, both located in the museum’s lobby.
I’m not sure how long the doors had been open, but when I arrived at Bogart’s Doughnut Co. at 7:02 this morning, there were five people in line ahead of me, and six drool-worthy varieties of doughnuts were filling the cases stretching under an elegant white marble counter.
Owner Anne Rucker appeared from around the corner, a tray lined with vanilla bean cream-filled doughnuts in her arms. The woman in front of me recognized her and said what we were all thinking.
“I’ve been driving by every day this week, hoping to see that you were open,” she said with a laugh. She had her Walker residence employee name badge hanging around her neck – it’s located a few blocks to the south – and she told Rucker, “Welcome to the neighborhood. We’ll all be coming over. A lot.”
Shoppers at the Kingfield Farmers Market will recognize Rucker, an attorney who has followed her passion for baking, first with a popular market stand she calls Bogart Loves (from her middle name, and her grandmother’s maiden name) and now this tiny, gleaming white doughnuts-and-coffee shop at 36th and Bryant in south Minneapolis.
Like all great doughnut shops, I smelled the goodness long before I walked in the door. Rucker’s trademark brioche doughnuts, glistening with sugar and the very definition of fried-dough perfection, were filled with Nutella or a vanilla bean cream, or smeared in glazes, either brown butter or vanilla bean. Cake doughnuts were either lavender-scented or done up in rich chocolate. Prices run $2 (for the cake doughnuts and the glazed brioche doughnuts) and $3 (for the filled brioche doughnuts).
Rucker is trying to open quietly – a near-impossibility in today’s social media world – with a grand opening scheduled for Friday. Doors stay open, “until we run out,” she said. That was around noon on Wednesday, her first unofficial day of business.
It seems fitting that a booze mart will be opening in a newspaper building, given the indelible image of hard-drinking journalists with a pint in their desk drawers in such films as “His Girl Friday.”
Except that when Revival Wine Beer and Spirits opens in the classic St. Paul edifice known to many as the Pioneer Building, there will be no journos in the house (the Pioneer Press offices moved a block or so away years ago), and this store will cater to a more upscale crowd than us ink-stained wretches.
The man behind the store, slated to open in mid-May (with a public tasting slated for May 20), is Jeffrey Huff, who started the charming Little Wine Shoppe in St. Anthony Park a few years back. This “shoppe” will not be “little”: 2,200 square feet compared to 300 for his former store. “My walk-in cooler’s almost bigger than the Little Wine Shoppe,” he said with a chuckle.
But it should be just as personal. Huff has been building cabinets to protect his inventory from getting too much light in a space with “massive windows.”
“The space is just amazing,” said Huff. It’s on the second floor of the Pioneer Endicott Building, which dates to 1889 and had been empty for a few years when Richard Pakonen of Pak Properties bought it, largely for residential usage.
Some of the 230 new luxury apartments are already occupied, and the Minnesota Museum of American Art will be taking up the entire first floor. Huff, who will be the first commercial tenant to open, named the store after the building’s architectural style, Romanesque Revival.
Huff said his store will be heavy on craft beers and the emerging artisan distillery world, and that the wine selection will be focused on quality and value. “I know the demographics of who’s down there,” he said. “But I knew the demographic in St. Anthony Park, and that didn’t quantify into selling high-end wines.”
Regardless, he’s excited to be in “an absolutely beautiful space” and has gotten comfortable with its size. “I guess you start small and get bigger. That’s the goal, right?” Huff said. “This is all the bigger I want to be.”
Well, it was fun while it lasted.
That’s what diners will – or at least should be – thinking on Dec. 22nd, when Umami by Travail serves its last meal.
Follow the bouncing shrimp toast: The total blast of a pop-up restaurant, the work of the seemingly bottomless pit of culinary energy and creativity behind Travail Kitchen and Amusements, originally opened for a short run in mid-September in the hastily renovated confines of a former fast-food fried chicken outlet on W. Broadway Avenue in Minneapolis.
After the original concept – Asian comfort food, served Travail-style in a multi-course, single-price format at large communal tables – proved popular, Travail co-owners Bob Gerken, Mike Brown (pictured above, right) and James Winberg decided to keep the place open and reprogrammed the kitchen into a dim sum-inspired operation.
Unfortunately, the demands of what they describe as a "manageable side project" are proving to be too unsustainable. With their new version of Travail – and its casual sibling the Rookery – nearing completion in Robbinsdale, the team has decided to pull the plug on Umami after all.
“Umami is not leaving because the business was unsuccessful, but rather because its success came at a time when the organization was already overextended,” the partnership said in a statement. “The restaurant was busy and buzzworthy and it demanded too much of the Travail team’s resources in terms of chefs, kitchen equipment, time and energy.”
Tickets for the remaining dates at Umami will go on sale here at 10 a.m. Wednesday (Nov. 27). Prices, which include food, tax and tip are $30 on Wednesday and Thursday, $40 on Friday and Saturday and $40 for Sunday brunch. If you haven't been, go, and hurry: space is limited.
Meanwhile, construction continues on the new Travail and the Rookery in downtown Robbinsdale. No opening date has been announced, but the Travail ownership team is currently projecting a soft opening shortly after Jan. 1.
Last week Stewart and Heidi Woodman announced they were closing their six-year-old restaurant Heidi's at the end of December. But last night's sign on their door indicated a change of plans.
Today, via a press release, they announced that the restaurant was closed immediately and gave the reason: the end of their marriage.
The press release:
After 12 years of marriage, Heidi and Stewart Woodman have mutually come to the decision to divorce. With this news, they announce today that Heidi's Minneapolis, the restaurant they created and co-owned for six years, has closed its doors.
In a statement from the Woodmans: “We kindly ask that our privacy be respected. While we’ve made the decision to end our marriage, we share the same love and commitment to our two children. Our focus is on them at this time."
Last night a flurry of tweets indicated that something was amiss given the sign that was posted on their door (see photo above), which hungry participants in Restaurant Week had stumbled upon.
A little history: Heidi's Minneapolis was an instant hit when it opened in 2007 at 50th Street and Bryant Av. in Minneapolis. After its building was destroyed by fire in 2010, the Woodmans moved the restaurant to 2903 Lyndale Av.S., where it earned a four-star review from Star Tribune critic Rick Nelson.
The culinary couple -- she's an accomplished pastry chef -- landed in Minneapolis, Heidi's hometown, in 2003, where Stewart became the first chef at Levain, which earned a four-star review under Stewart's cooking.
The husband-wife team went on to open Five Restaurant & Street Lounge, an ambitious but short-lived effort. Their next venture together was Heidi's. They had also opened Birdhouse on Hennepin Av. S., which closed over the summer.
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