Counter Intelligence: MIA overhauling dining options

  • Article by: RICK NELSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 14, 2013 - 4:53 PM

The Minneapolis Institite of Arts is overhauling its dining venues.

Photo: Rick Nelson • Star Tribune,

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Change amid the Monets

Visitors to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (2400 3rd Av. S., Mpls., www.artsmia.org) will notice some major changes to the museum, and not just the newly redesigned African art galleries. The MIA’s dining venues are undergoing a major overhaul.

“We want to upgrade the museum’s non-art amenities so that they reflect the quality of the institution,” said Hunter Wright, the museum’s venture innovation director.

That means D’Amico and Partners, which has managed the museum’s two cafes since 2000, is out. Well, almost. The company will continue to manage the museum’s catering operations.

The replacement is Stock & Badge, the creativity- and quality-minded collaboration between Dogwood Coffee Co. (3001 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., www.dogwoodcoffee.com), Rustica (3220 W. Lake St., Mpls., www.rusticabakery.com) and Victory 44 (2203 44th Av. N., Mpls., www.victory-44.com). The partnership opened Parka (4023 E. Lake St., Mpls., www.parkampls.com) in January.

The MIA’s upgrade project started small, when the museum began to explore different coffee options.

“We connected with Dogwood, and the conversation started there and developed into a bigger vision to transform how people experience the museum,” Wright said.

That includes a full-fledged remake of the musuem’s lobby, with a Dogwood cafe as its centerpiece.

Wright said that Dogwood will be open during regular museum hours — including Thursday evenings, when the galleries remain open until 9 p.m. — serving coffee drinks, sandwiches, salads and sweets, then segueing to beer, wine and craft cocktails in the evening.

The museum also plans to experiment with early morning (as in 7 a.m.) hours for Dogwood, “to connect with our neighborhood constituency,” Wright said. “We want to encourage people to spend time in the lobby’s main living area, to use it as a place where they can truly connect with one another.”

Also slated for the lobby: Half Pint, a casual, studio-like restaurant that will feature what Wright describes as “a family-friendly menu with family-friendly prices.”

The Minneapolis architecture firm VJAA is designing the lobby project, which is currently under construction and scheduled to open in early December.

Until Dogwood debuts, the former Artsbreak counter will remain open, serving a limited selection of sandwiches, salads, sweets and beverages. (Also coming to the lobby: A holiday season pop-up store for Northern Grade menswear.)

Upstairs, in the restaurant formerly known as Mezzanine, Stock & Badge is in the midst of creating a new lunch-hour cafe, which will also open in early December, following a bit of a facelift.

Not many details yet — including the name — but Wright added that the menu will “include the element of surprise and delight that is important to the museum experience.”

And the winner is ...

The third-annual Charlie Awards, celebrating the Twin Cities’ food and drink community with more than a dozen awards, is taking place Sunday, with an awards show at the Pantages Theatre at 3:30 p.m., followed by a reception at the IDS Crystal Court and a VIP dinner (with dishes prepared by four 2012 Charlie Award-winning chefs) at the Walker Art Center. Tickets ($25 to $125) are available at www.charlies exceptionale.com.

RICK NELSON

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