Two La Belle Vie alums open a restaurant/bar named after a Replacements song.
Sometimes things work out exactly as planned. Other times, not so much.
Jim Christiansen and Lorin Zinter have been kicking around the idea of opening a restaurant together for at least four years, with varying degrees of seriousness. Somewhere along the way, routine banter between chef (Christiansen) and front-of-house pro (Zinter) got real, and on Tuesday the La Belle Vie-groomed duo opened Heyday in Uptown.
It’s just not what they initially had in mind.
“Four years ago if you would’ve told me this is the restaurant you’re going to open, I don’t think I would’ve believed you,” Zinter said, sitting at his 25-seat, L-shaped bar.
While the industry pals who helped open La Belle Vie in Minneapolis and, later, Sea Change have no regrets (quite the contrary), their original daydream was a much smaller turnkey operation — not the major renovation project they ended up with.
Last year Zinter, Christiansen and their partner/design guy, Mike Prickett, settled on a space — well, then two spaces — at 2700 Lyndale Av. S. that formerly housed the Sunny Side-Up Cafe and a coin laundry. The rooms have been gutted and converted into their 110-seat new American bistro. Prickett went the rustic-chic route, with reclaimed wood from a Wisconsin barn, lots of exposed brick and a sleek marble bar top.
“We’ve been pleased with how it evolved,” Zinter said. “It’s just funny how things change.”
Despite the La Belle Vie buds’ fine-dining pedigrees — Zinter is coming off a stint as the Minneapolis Club’s food and beverage director, while Christiansen has worked at Copenhagen’s world-renowned Noma and more recently Union — Heyday is a more casual affair. After all, it’s hard to get too highbrow with a joint named after a Replacements song. “We don’t want people to ever feel like this is a special occasion they have to get dressed up for or anything,” stressed Zinter, an unabashed ’Mats fan. “I’m walking around wearing jeans and a T-shirt half the time because … ”
“Looking like a bum!” interrupts wine director Dani Megears (another LBV vet), almost on cue while cruising past the bar.
That playful, keeping-it-loose spirit is partly what the Heyday crew hopes will attract neighborhood regulars. (The opening lyric to the Replacements’ seminal “Here Comes a Regular,” inspired by the C.C. Club a block away, is framed above the bar.) Its price points also suggest repeatability, with only the beef fillet equipped with artichoke, morels and sweetbreads breaking the $20 barrier. Other menu items, including lamb tartare, sherry-steamed clams and roasted squab (i.e. pigeon), range from $8 to $18.
Along with reasonable prices, Christiansen is promising reasonable portions. His “medium-sized plate” menu is designed to prevent a three-course meal from becoming a total gorge fest. “You go to restaurants and you order an appetizer and I always would get full,” he said. “Well, why is this an appetizer? Entrees, you’re expecting to take two pounds of food home and the dessert can feed seven people. I don’t really understand that.”
Although brunch is in the works, Heyday initially is open for dinner and late-night drinks, from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. daily. With the space split between the dining room and bar area, Heyday could become a low-key after-dinner drink spot, too, and Parlour and Marvel Bar alum Britt Tracy has created a short, egalitarian cocktail list.
With the owners and multiple staffers having La Belle Vie résumés, plus LBV pastry chef Diane Yang and breadmaker Jo Garrison helping to develop Heyday’s baked-goods game, comparisons to Minneapolis’ four-star mecca are natural. But Heyday is its own beast.
“We’re not trying to be like La Belle Vie in any stretch of the imagination,” Zinter said. “It will always be a special restaurant to Jim and I. ... But we’re doing something different from them, and we should. We should find our own path and our own identity.”
Still, if it’s half as good as the restaurants these guys have helped open, Heyday should have no problem luring regulars of its own.
2700 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls., 612-200-9369, www.heydayeats.com
Like some sort of rabid, zombie moose bar that just won’t die, Bullwinkle Saloon has risen from its grave. Again. In November, the West Bank bar closed for the second time since 2011, only to be quietly resuscitated last month, likely pleasing nostalgic U of M alums and current coeds yearning for another cheap-beer destination. Calls to the bar went unanswered and messages could not be left. However, an updated website and new Facebook page indicate that the undead college dive offers dollar brain, er, drink specials Thursdays from 9-11 p.m.