Cafe Brenda is calling it quits.
"Everything has its time," said owner Brenda Langton. "I'm fine with it. We've had a great time. It's been fun."
The restaurant, a mostly vegetarian pioneer in the local-foods movement, opened in the Minneapolis Warehouse District in 1986.
"Back then, the Warehouse District was really cool," Langton said. "But those days are done."
Langton cited the time constraints of running two restaurants -- she launched Spoonriver, across the street from the Guthrie Theater, in 2006 -- as a main reason for the closure.
"I'm having a great time moving into other arenas, and I just don't have time for it all," she said. One such project is a Spoonriver cookbook, being published by the University of Minnesota Press. Langton also serves as a senior fellow at the U's Center for Spirituality and Healing where she teaches a course on "Healthy Eating/Healthy Living."
Langton opened her first restaurant, Cafe Kardamena, in St. Paul in 1978. Eight years later, after being inspired by the Greens restaurant in San Francisco and Chez Panisse across the bay in Berkeley, she decided it was time for a change.
"I came back and said, 'It's time to move to the big city,' " she recalled. "The next weekend I was driving around, showing a friend from New York all over downtown [Minneapolis]. We saw a "For Lease" sign and I said, 'Oh my god, this is it.' We went in that Monday and started negotiating."
A closing date hasn't been set, but Langton is thinking it might be Dec. 5. Until then, she plans to be a fixture during lunch and dinner at the restaurant, so she can say goodbye to customers, and gently nudge them over to Spoonriver.
"I think I'll be getting a lot of hugs in the next two weeks," said Langton. "At least I hope so."
Rick Nelson • 612-673-4757