From Bloomington to Boulud to the North Loop

Proving once again that the North Loop is the region's hottest restaurant address, New York City chef and Bloomington native Gavin Kaysen announced that he has chosen the neighborhood to open Merchant.

Opening a restaurant in his hometown started a year ago, when he was surrounded by family and friends at a summer barbecue.

"It was a fulcrum kind of moment, you know what I mean?" he said. "I thought, 'This is where I need to open a restaurant. I'd never felt that way before. It hit me like a ton of bricks."

This is one credentialed chef. Sure, his first job was at a Subway, but after cooking in Switzerland and London, Kaysen garnered plenty of attention at El Bizcocho in San Diego, landing on the cover of Food & Wine magazine's annual Best New Chefs issue, competing in the Bocuse d'Or cooking competition and appearing on "Next Iron Chef."

In 2007, he was recruited by superstar chef Daniel Boulud to run his Café Boulud in New York City. The following year, Kaysen was named the nation's Rising Star Chef of the Year by the James Beard Foundation and earned a star in the Michelin Guide.

Kaysen's late grandmother Dorothy Kaysen is serving as a major inspiration for his new project, which will feature a changes-daily meal based upon her recipes.

"It might be a rotisserie of roasted beets with horseradish and dill, and pot roast, or fried chicken, or a whole grilled fish," he said. "You come in and gather around a communal table and break bread the way my grandmother would have fed you."

Kaysen isn't revealing the restaurant's exact location. "I want to be sensitive to the permit process," he said. "When I saw this space, I just fell head over heels."

Here's what he is saying: The 6,000-square-foot property is in a 100-year-old building in the North Loop, and the space — which will include a bar and a dining room split into smaller sections — is being designed by Shea Inc. of Minneapolis.

Kaysen's last day at Café Boulud is June 1. Merchant's target opening date is late 2014.

For a Q&A with Kaysen, go to

Opening soon

Brasserie Zentral (505 Marquette Av. S., Mpls.,, the schnitzel-spaetzle-dumplings destination by Russell and Desta Klein, the couple behind Meritage (410 St. Peter St., St. Paul,, is opening soon, serving lunch weekdays and dinner Monday through Saturday. Look for a soft opening on April 18, and reservations will be accepted starting April 21.

Open and closed

Hen House Eatery (114 S. 8th St., Mpls., 612-345-4664, is now open in the former home of Peter's Grill, serving breakfast and lunch daily and happy hour (2 to 7 p.m.) and dinner (to 8 p.m.) weekdays.

Rye Deli owner David Weinstein has called it quits after a 2½-year run. Also dark: the Twin Cities' original Famous Dave's, in Linden Hills, after a 19-year run. The site is being redeveloped into condominiums and retail.

A change in venue

Longtime Cosmos (601 1st Av. N., Mpls., pastry chef Khanh Tran is now in the kitchen at the Bachelor Farmer (50 N. 2nd Av., Mpls.,