The food truck scene continued to show no sign of market saturation. The industry’s most telling trend is the move toward brick-and-mortar establishments. Food truck pioneers Lisa Carlson and Carrie Summer closed the year by funneling their Chef Shack into the Chef Shack Ranch, their modern-day take on the truck stop. Potter’s Pasties launched a permanent takeout counter. Sushi Fix turned on the lights in Wayzata. But in terms of sheer audacity, nothing tops the transformation that Smack Shack owner Josh Thoma achieved when he opened the doors on his sprawling, instantly popular North Loop lobster house in February.
Fab fast food
The owners of Masu Sushi & Robata should be handed the award for Outstanding New Chain-in-the-Making. Their One Two Three Sushi debuted in the IDS Crystal Court to instant crowds, and its quick and affordable design-your-own-roll format has already spawned two siblings: another on the downtown Minneapolis skyway, and a third in Dinkytown.
Stock & Badge — the union of talents behind Dogwood Coffee Co., Rustica and Victory 44 — gave birth to delightful Parka, then turned its considerable attention to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts for a major overhaul of the museum’s 13-year-old food-and-drink venues. Look for a new coffee bar, a remade restaurant and Half Pint, a kid-focused cafe.
The forecast for the next 12 months? Busy.
Russell and Desta Klein are crossing the Mississippi River and taking on a major project in the revitalized Soo Line Building in downtown Minneapolis, but they’re not replicating their four-star Meritage. Instead, they’ll be conjuring up the schnitzel and foie gras flavors of Austria and Hungary with Brasserie Zentral. The project, slated to open in the spring, will also include a cheese lover’s wine bar they’re calling Foreign Legion, along with a retail wine-and-spirits shop and Cafe Zentral, a casual skyway-level breakfast-lunch spot.
Kaskaid Hospitality — the juggernaut behind Crave — is converting a former Old Chicago in Uptown into Boneyard. The Southern comfort food-centric restaurant and bar is aiming at a March-April opening.
The team behind the Strip Club is looking at Lowertown — across Wall Street from the St. Paul Farmers Market — for its next venture, which they’re calling the Saint Dinette.
Still in its freshman year, Luke Shimp’s hamburger-centric Red Cow has proved such a hit that he’s already opening a second, at Selby and Western in St. Paul’s Cathedral Hill. And the former Serlin’s Cafe will become Cook St. Paul.
Come spring, look for a new landmark lighting up northeast Minneapolis: the 60-foot Ferris wheel at Betty Danger’s Country Club, the work of Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge owner Leslie Bock. At Riverplace, the folks at Wilde Roast Cafe are taking over the former Kikugawa and opening Mattie’s on Main, a modern-day saloon. After conquering the world of fro-yo, the ownership behind the fast-growing Yogurt Lab is getting into the quick-service salad and juice-bar business with Agra Culture Kitchen & Press. That same Uptown building will also be the home of Coup d’état, brought to you by the team behind Borough and Parlour.