Irish pub the Local begins its march toward metro domination when its second outpost (of a proposed 10) opens Wednesday in St. Louis Park (1607 Park Place Blvd., St. Louis Park, 952-698-2000).
Dubbed the Local West End, the new pub is a remodeled rebrand of the former Cooper, which was part of the same company, Cara Irish Pubs.
The old Cooper looked “more French” in some ways, said Cara Irish Pubs CEO Peter Killen. To Irish the place up, an Ireland-based crew took 35 days to add in tiled floors, lots of dark wood, a new warrior-princess mural above the bar, and “snugs” — wood-and-glass-enclosed booths that now line two walls.
“I’ve got some flags I’ve got to get up,” Killen added.
All that new wood makes the restaurant feel smaller, but the footprint has also shrunk: a large backroom was turned into private dining, and a side dining room was closed off. It’s now a separate space available for lease.
Chef Vincent Francoual, culinary director for Cara Irish Pubs, is still in charge of the menu, which has changed slightly to match that of the first Local, in downtown Minneapolis (931 Nicollet Mall, 904-1000, the-local.com).
Fish and chips, steak-and-potato pie, corned beef and cabbage, pretzel rolls, homemade tater tots, and ample salads are some of the offerings. Sunday suppers with a carving station are coming soon.
And, of course, you can still get Francoual’s Vincent Burger, made famous at his former Nicollet Mall restaurant Vincent. An elevated Jucy Lucy made of short rib surrounding melted smoked Gouda, Francoual’s namesake was never going away.
“We know what sells around here,” Killen said.
But even years after Vincent’s closure, and the burger moving onto the Cooper and the Local menus, Francoual says he’s still trying to understand why people accuse him of changing it.
“I’m reading a book called ‘Gastrophysics,’” Fancoual said. It details how the brain reacts to food in different surroundings, which might explain why customers think the recipe was altered, just because they’re eating it in a different restaurant. It really is the same savory cheese-bomb of a Vincent burger, he promised.
“We don’t try to reinvent the wheel,” Francoual said. “We just try every day to do better.”