Counter Intelligence: Saunders is expanding into Kenwood

  • Article by: RICK NELSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 8, 2012 - 9:52 AM

In Season chef taking over former Kenwood Cafe site.

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Don Saunders, In Season chef/owner

Photo: Tom Wallace, Star Tribune

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The good people of Kenwood should be pleased to learn that a gifted chef is moving into their neighborhood.

Don Saunders, chef/owner of In Season (5416 Penn Av. S., Mpls., www.inseasonrestaurant.com), has grabbed the lease on the W. 21st Street-Penn Avenue S. storefront that was most recently occupied by the Kenwood Cafe.

"I was definitely not out shopping for another restaurant," said Saunders. "But it's kind of ironic. We have a regular customer who lives in Kenwood, and he told me, 'A place like yours would be great in our neighborhood.' And then literally the next morning, my wife showed me an article that said that the Kenwood Cafe had closed."

Expect some similarities to In Season. "Obviously my cooking style isn't going to change much," Saunders said with a laugh. "And the dinner price point will also stay the same. But the two restaurants will look completely different, and they'll have different concepts."

No name yet, and few other details. "We're still in the planning process," he said. "But generally the idea is that, along with doing dinner, we're thinking about the possibility of doing brunch six days a week, and possibly opening early for coffee. A lot of what we decide is going to be based upon demand in the neighborhood. We want to give them what they want."

The "we" includes Kenwood resident Jim Smart, head honcho of Smart Associates, the Minneapolis firm designing the restaurant. Here's one design detail that has been finalized: Saunders and his crew will be cooking in an open kitchen, and one that's much roomier than its cramped In Season counterpart.

Saunders also has a plan for being in two places at the same time. He's going to get the Kenwood place up and running -- right now the plan is a late-summer opening -- and then eventually return to In Season ("my baby," he calls it), changing places with chef de cuisine Peter Thillen, who has been cooking alongside Saunders since In Season opened 18 months ago.

"It's going to be a super-cool project," said Saunders. "It's a nice fit for me, and a great opportunity to do something that I hope the neighborhood will come to call their own."

Bald is beautiful

As a decades-long member of the follicle-challenged community, I wholly endorse this idea: Bald Night, being held on April 18 at Keegan's Pub (16 University Av. NE., Mpls., www.keeganspub.com), starting at 7 p.m.

Here's how it works: All men and women who are bald, mostly bald or shaved will receive a two-for-one with their first drink purchase.

Now open in Bryn Mawr

Check out Sparks (230 S. Cedar Lake Rd., Mpls., www.sparksmpls.com).

Chef/co-owner Jonathan Hunt, of Al Vento (5001 34th Av. S., Mpls., www.alventorestaurant.com) and Rinata (2451 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., www.rinatarestaurant.com) fame, is pulling pizzas and roasted meats and seafoods out of a wood-burning oven at dinner, daily. Sunday brunch, too, and beer and wine.

 

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