The gotta-love trend of the moment is easily the one that has food truckers opening restaurants.
Here’s a memory-refreshing rundown: Foxy Falafel debuted its St. Paul bricks-and-mortar establishment last week, in a modest Raymond-and-University storefront. The Smack Shack’s restaurant and bar is nearing completion in Minneapolis’ North Loop neighborhood. Brothers Sameh and Saed Wadi are going the true full-circle route: First came their Saffron Restaurant & Lounge in downtown Minneapolis, then their World Street Kitchen food truck, which will spawn its non-motorized version later this year in south Minneapolis.
The latest? The exciting news that Lisa Carlson and Carrie Summer (pictured, above), the high-octane duo behind the Chef Shack, have purchased the former River Bay Cafe in Bay City, Wis., and plan to open Chef Shack in Bay City, a weekend-only destination.
Anyone worried that their beloved pulled pork nachos, sweet potato tacos, tomato-watermelon gazpacho and Indian-spiced organic mini-doughnuts are disappearing from the farmers markets and downtown curbsides where the Chef Shack does business, relax. They’re not going anywhere.
“It’s business as usual here in the city,” said Summer. “We’re not leaving town, we’re just growing as a company and taking on this new opportunity.”
Bay City, population 500, is located just south of Red Wing, Minn., on the Wisconsin side of ultra-scenic Lake Pepin. “I’ve been going to the valley all my life," said Carlson, a Rochester native. "We're both completely in love with the river valley."
Carlson and Summer are closing on the property on Aug. 15, and after some minor renovations hope to open this fall. “It’s completely charming and romantic, very European,” she said. “Any chef in New York or California would die for it.”
Summer describes their plans for the menu as “very approachable bistro food, and an expression of who we are,” she said. “I’m coining the phrase, ‘Wild-grown heritage cookery from the valley.’”
The 40-seat dining room comes with a 40-seat patio and a full liquor license. “And probably some pizzas, because there’s a wood-burning pizza oven there,” said Summer. The plan is to serve dinner Friday and Saturday evenings, “and we may transition into Sunday brunch,” she added.
For Carlson and Summer, both accomplished practioners with eons of experience in restaurants from New York City to Uptown Minneapolis -- not to mention their role as Twin Cities street food pioneers -- the news is the culmination of several years of careful planning.
“We’ve been looking for a long time,” Summer said. “We’ve passed on some incredibly good lease opportunities because we wanted to buy. Owning has always been our goal. We’re super-excited for this new challenge.”