It’s official, the popular Lake Calhoun restaurant Tin Fish will be replaced by Lola’s Café in January.
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board on Wednesday voted unanimously to approve a five-year lease with Lola’s to operate in the refectory building that housed Tin Fish for 14 years at Lake Calhoun, also known as Bde Maka Ska.
The Park Board said Lola’s Cafe’s proposal addressed a host of concerns that included alleviating long wait times and serving more people by setting up kiosks around the lake.
“I know change can be hard for people but I think we will see a lot of positive come out of this,” said Commissioner Anita Tabb, whose district includes Lake Calhoun.
Lola’s Cafe will be the first black-owned business to work with the Park Board at Lake Calhoun. Lola’s on the Lake will open for business in April. It will serve fish tacos along with smoked chicken wings, pulled pork with macaroni and cheese, and rib tips. Soul-food Sunday brunches and gluten-free foods will also be on the menu.
Owner Louis King said he is consulting with McDonald’s and carnival food vendors to roll out a more fast-food-type operation and learn the best way to deploy the kiosks. “We want everyone in this community to be able to enjoy what we have,” King said. “We want to have fun.”
Lola’s Cafe operates concession stands at U.S. Bank Stadium and Jim Lupient Water Park in northeast Minneapolis.
Not all board members approved of the proposal process, in which 12 restaurant and food service operators made proposals to operate the concession operation. That included three longtime Tin Fish employees who wanted to take over the operation after owners Sheff and Athena Priest decided not to renew their lease, which expires at the end of the year.
Commissioner Brad Bourn, who said at a recent meeting that he liked the Tin Fish business concept, questioned the Park Board’s community engagement process. Board Member John Erwin concurred.
“I’m excited for Lola’s,” Bourn said Wednesday night. But “the Park Board needs to clarify its RFP and engagement process in the future.”
Tim Prinsen, a longtime Lake Calhoun-area resident, is among those who wanted to see Tin Fish continue. His three daughters and a niece all had summer jobs at Tin Fish. Prinsen also agreed the board’s decision process was messy.
“Tin Fish was part of the neighborhood,” Prinsen said. “It’s sad to see it go, but what makes it even worse is the process of how it happened.”