Behind the brown paper that's covering the windows, the downtown Minneapolis corner once anchored by the venerable Peter’s Grill is being transformed into an “urban farmhouse.”
That’s the phrase that co-owner Barb Gardiner is using to describe the Hen House Eatery, the breakfast-all-day cafe and bakery now under construction at 114 S. 8th St.
Gardiner and business partners Maribel Cuadros-Perrault and Tara Koenig met and became friends while working at Key’s Cafe and Bakery, where breakfast is also a specialty of the house.
“We’ve all been in the breakfast business for quite a long time, so that’s going to help,” said Gardiner. No kidding. Collectively, the three of them have clocked more than four decades at Key’s.
The Hen House kitchen will open for business at 6:30 a.m., concentrating on such items as blueberry pancakes with Greek yogurt, a sweet potato hash, an omelet with quinoa, chevre and tomatoes and a host of a.m. baked goodies.
“We think this is a great location for breakfast, with all the big corporations located nearby,” said Gardiner.
Lunch will focus on burgers, sandwiches and soups (“Peter [Atsidakos, owner of Peter’s Grill] has all these big soup kettles that we’re going to use,” said Gardiner), and a limited evening menu (served to 9 p.m.) will devote itself to appetizers.
“We’re not going to do dinner,” said Gardiner. “The area kind of clears out in the evening. Besides, we can’t compete with Manny’s.”
Fans of Peter’s will recognize some aspects of the place (pictured, above). The restaurant's famous walnut booths are at the top of ths save list, and one of the distinctive horseshoe-shaped counters is being repurposed for a bar (Unlike Peter’s, the Hen House is going to have a full liquor license). Two private dining rooms are also being added.
“We’ll try to keep the charm that Peter’s had, but we’re updating it,” said Gardiner. “It’s going to be more colorful. We’ve been painting over the Peter’s green for weeks now. Many, many weeks.”
Historic Peter’s, the last of the downtown lunch counters, closed in June, a year shy of its centennial. Gardiner said that she and her partners are aiming for a March opening.