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Gather at the Walker Art Center ending lunch service

Posted by: Rick Nelson under Restaurant news Updated: April 28, 2014 - 4:34 PM

Gather, the stylish D'Amico-run restaurant at the Walker Art Center, is pulling the plug on its lunch service. The last noon-hour meal will be served Sunday. 

Although it's primarily a lunch-only restaurant, Gather isn't entirely disappearing. Chef Josh Brown will continue to serve happy hour and dinner every Thursday, the night when the museum's galleries remain open until 9 p.m. (Trivia question: Are there other Twin Cities restaurants that operate on a once-a-week basis? The only contender for the title is the Russian Tea House, although it's usually open two days a week.)

The popular chef-in-residence program, which invites Twin Cities chefs into the Gather kitchen, will also remain, with a twist: Instead of featuring local chefs, the first-Thursday-of-the-month events will spend the summer turning the spotlight on local brewers.

Matt Hall of Lift Bridge Brewing Co. kicks off the first in the series on Thursday, followed by Bob Roepke of Flat Earth Brewing Co. on June 5 and Kevin Welch of Boom Island Brewing Co. on July 3. Guests can taste three complimentary sample-sized brews and purchase flights. 

Also staying is the casual, counter-service Garden Cafe by D'Amico, located in the Bazinet lobby at the building's Vineland Place entrance. An expanded menu, including a variety of panini sandwiches, will be introduced on Tuesday. In addition, the Dog House, the hot dog stand at the Walker's popular mini-golf course, will reopen on May 22.

It's a shame that diners' access to what is easily one of the Twin Cities' most visually arresting eating-and-drinking venues is being so severely curtailed. The second-floor restaurant is a key component to the Walker's nine-year-old, $135.6 million addition. Gather debuted in June 2011 as a replacement to 20.21, the Asian-inspired, Wolfgang Puck-operation that opened in 2005.

Diners with acute memories will recall 20.21's predecessor, Gallery 8 (pictured, above, in a Star Tribune file photo). The cafeteria, famous for its terrace patio, was a popular -- and populist-priced -- lunch destination for 32 years until it closed in 2004 during the Walker's expansion and renovation. It returned in 2005 in an altered format, and quietly closed a few years later.

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