Beginning in March, D’Amico and Partners is out, and Culinaire International is in at the Walker Art Center.

Culinaire will operate a yet-to-be-named restaurant as part of a new glass-walled entrance pavilion that's now under construction and scheduled to open in November. The addition is located near the museum’s original entrance on Vineland Place on the building's north side, opposite the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. (Image above courtesy Walker Art Center). 

The $23.3 million entry pavilion and cafe is part of a larger $75 million remake of the Walker campus, designed by the Minneapolis architectural firm HGA.

“We are excited about the possibilities with our new partnership with Culinaire including plans for a new cafe/full service restaurant with panoramic views of the renovated Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, featuring a full on view of “Spoonbridge and Cherry” from both indoor and seasonal outdoor seating,” said Walker deputy director David Galligan in a statement.

Twenty-two year-old Culinaire is no stranger to Minneapolis. The Dallas-based company also manages the restaurant and catering operations at the Guthrie Theater (Sea Change) and the American Swedish Institute (Fika), as well as several dozen other venues -- concert halls, museums, zoos, convention centers, hotels – in 23 cities.

It’s the third food-and-drink switch-up for the museum since the Walker debuted its $135.6 million expansion in 2005. 20.21, the Wolfgang Puck-run Asian fusion restaurant, ran until April 2011. The D’Amico’s – operators of Cafe Lurcat and Bar Lurcat in Minneapolis, Campiello in Eden Prairie, Parma 8200 in Bloomington and the D’Amico & Sons chain – launched Gather in the former second-floor 20.21 space in June 2011.

That restaurant pretty much closed in three years later, dropping its lunch service and remaining open Thursday evenings only, leaving D’Amico to focus its dining efforts on the museum’s lobby-level Garden Cafe, as well as the sculpture garden’s summer-only Dog House hot dog stand.

“We are extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Walker Art Center over the years,” said Larry D’Amico, co-owner of D’Amico and Partners, in a statement. “We respect all that they do for the arts and Minneapolis. It’s been a great relationship and we wish them well. We will soon be announcing a number of new projects.”

The museum will announce details about the new restaurant’s menu and chef in the “coming months.” 

Beginning in March, Culinaire will operate an interim Garden Cafe-like operation in current Gather space (no name yet). When the new pavilion-level restaurant opens in November, the former Gather space will be used for special events.

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