Change is good, right?
“We’ve seen business decline a bit in this fourth year, and so it’s time for a change,” he said. “Most restaurants change over time, and in hindsight, you need to have a plan, and I didn’t have a plan.”
He does now.
“Over these four years, we’ve learned a lot about the space,” said Christiansen. “It’s too big for one entity. We want to find the space’s potential.”
The solution: splitting the restaurant’s footprint. The too-spacious bar is going to become its own stand-alone restaurant, with its own kitchen, and its own to-be-determined name. Right now, Christiansen is toying with the idea of creating a casual, neighborhood-focused concept, one that’s rotating and perhaps seasonally inspired.
“That way, if it’s boring, or people don’t like it, we’ll change it,” he said.
His current impulse is to dive deep into the world of Spanish tapas and ciders.
“I just miss Solera so much,” he said. “I don’t understand why we don’t have Spanish restaurants in this town, because it’s such a great cuisine. It’s food that I love to eat and I love to cook.”
Meanwhile, Christiansen (pictured, above, in a Star Tribune file photo) hasn’t worked out details on how he’s going forward with Heyday’s dining room, although it will remain a showcase for the boundary-pushing, idiosyncratic cooking that landed him on the cover of Food & Wine in 2015, as a member of the magazine’s rarefied Best New Chefs fraternity.
“We have so many great regulars,” said Christiansen. “We just don’t have enough to sustain 120 seats.”
Which is why he’s toying with the idea of following the model that has been such a success at Tenant in south Minneapolis, where diners reserve a spot for a limited seating, fixed-price dinner.
“I’ve not been to Tenant, but I know that it’s busy all the time, there’s a lot of demand for those seats,” he said. “A business needs to be busy, right? I like the predictability and the control of that model, that’s very intriguing. It’s frustrating, because we can have a million people in here one night, and the next night it’ll be zero, which makes no sense.”
Although he hasn’t decided on whether to retain the Heyday name, this much he does know: the dining room will have an entrance that’s separate from what is currently the Heyday bar, and both spaces will undergo some aesthetic alterations. Heyday’s current iteration will serve its last meal on June 9.
“Then we’re getting our heads together,” said Christiansen. “We don’t have any real dates yet, but we’re toying with a late September opening. Business has always been good then. The kids are back in school, and the State Fair is over.”