A restaurant closing never feels like a good deal -- that is, unless it heralds new beginnings and next steps.
South Minneapolis soul food shop Funky Grits is shuttering its location at 38th and Chicago this weekend after a little over a year in business. The kitchen will serve its last bowl of shrimp and grits on Sunday.
But that's not the last you'll hear of owner Jared Brewington. He's taking a small staff to a new venture — a community cafe — around the corner (3751 Bloomington Ave.). The cafe will have meeting spaces for the neighborhood and a scaled down menu more in line with typical coffee shop fare -- sweet treats, Peace coffee drinks, light lunch. He hopes downsizing his operation now will allow him to someday get back into the full-scale restaurant business.
Fans of his soul food-inspired menu might be surprised at the news. Funky Grits' inaugural year as a Minnesota State Fair vendor was a runaway success, with Brewington's shrimp-and-grits fritters a bona fide hit.
"People say 'Oh, you made a million at the fair!' But there's a lot of expense and buildout to get there," said Brewington.
Staff turnover and rising wages made staying open untenable, Brewington said. But his landlord was willing to work out a compromise that would allow the business to downshift. He hopes to transition from the old space to the new one in the former Svasti Yoga studio as swiftly as possible.
For now, there won't be shrimp and grits, but Brewington is optimistic about an eventual return.
"There are more restaurant opportunities in my future," he said.