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Yet the party doesn’t feel manufactured. Everyone on the payroll is clearly having a blast, and they’re not shy about showing it. How very un-Minnesotan of them, and how marvelous.
Change is in the air
Although the ownership team will soon begin to turn their attention back to the Robbinsdale mother ship, the good news is that Umami will continue past its pop-up expiration date, with a format tweak.
The current tasting menu, which requires a watchful care-and-feeding regimen from Brown, Winberg and Gerken, will be replaced by a dim-sum-style setup (“with a charcuterie twist,” said Brown). A new name, too: Umami Dim Sum.
Following the example of matriculating mentored Travail cooks into leadership positions, the revised Umami will be managed by Travail alumni Geoff Hausmann (who has been killing it at the Sample Room in northeast Minneapolis for the past year) and two current staffers, Wilhelm Von Mandel and Sean Little.
Talent begets talent, right? Another narrative — this time a reinterpretation of the location, location, location mantra — is also in play.
Until Travail came along, who would have thought that local culinarians would beat a path to sleepy downtown Robbinsdale? With Umami, that same crew has proved, once again, that one restaurateur’s previously ignored location is another’s dining-out gold mine.
Who knows? Umami’s success could spark more investment in north Minneapolis, giving the area the turnaround that it needs and deserves.
Follow Rick Nelson on Twitter: @RickNelsonStrib