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Travail restaurant fund raiser: $75K in six hours

Posted by: Rick Nelson Updated: September 11, 2013 - 3:10 PM

It may be a crowd-funding record, at least locally.

As a means to close a funding gap on their new, under-construction location, the ownership team at Travail Kitchen and Amusements in Robbinsdale put up a plea on Kickstarter on Tuesday.

They exceeded their $75,000 goal in roughly the same amount of time it takes to consume one of the restaurant’s over-the-top tasting menus.It’s a startling feat but not entirely surprising, given Travail’s (justifiably) rabid following.

The campaign is titled “Democratizing Fine Dining in Robbinsdale, MN,” and it promises all kinds of bells and whistles for contributors: cooking classes, preview events, a your-name-here spot on a benefactor’s wall.

One of the more inspired rewards is cheekily stepping into St. Paul firefighter territory: Travail’s “2014 Sexy Chef Calendar,” which will be released just before the holidays.

Like Travail itself, the online effort turned out to be a wildly creative, wholly impressive and instantly successful.

But one quibble: One of the campaign’s primary bonuses allows contributors at certain levels ($250 and up) to jump to the head of the line at the no-reservations restaurant.

That’s a valuable asset — just ask anyone who has stood for several hours outside the restaurant, waiting for a table. But from this 99 percent-er’s vantage point, such a perk seems to run counter to the campaign’s “democratizing” promise.

Co-owners James Winberg, Bob Gerken, Kale Thome and Mike Brown are hoping for a quiet opening in December. Meanwhile the crew’s temporary Asian restaurant, Umami by Travail (904 W. Broadway, Mpls.) is getting ready to open next week.

UPDATE: Talk about feeling the love. As of 3 p.m. Wednesday, Travail's fundraising effort has yielded an astounding $156,669 from 664 backers. That's approximately $87 per minute.

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