A familiar name — OK, one of the most recognized names in Minnesota sports history — is going to be lighting up a restaurant marquee on a busy stretch of France Avenue in Edina. And it’s not a sports bar.

The name? Lou Nanne. The restaurant? Lou Nanne’s, a steakhouse. The site? The soon-to-close Romano’s Macaroni Grill (7651 France Av. S., Edina) in the Centennial Lakes Office Park complex.

“This is probably the best location I’ve ever had,” said co-owner Michael McDermott of the McDermott Restaurant Group, which operates Rojo Mexican Grill, Shag and Ling & Louie’s.

McDermott has wisely tapped Josh Hill, who has been executive chef at Manny’s Steakhouse for the past seven years, to run the Lou Nanne’s kitchen. Hill is also a Cosmos and Red Stag Supperclub vet.

“I’ve learned a lot from Parasole,” said Hill, referring to Manny’s parent company. “And now it’s time to take what I’ve learned and apply it to a new opportunity.”

It’s early in the menu-planning process, but Hill is planning to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, catering to the neighborhood’s large hotel and office populations. A full bar, too.

“It’s going to be a steakhouse, but more accessible,” said Hill. “We’ll have a really good beef program — we’ll offer a product that’ll be exclusive to that part of town — and we’ll offer fresh seafood. We’re playing around with the idea of a wood-fired oven.”

Nanne is, of course, the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame-er, former Minnesota North Stars player, coach and general manager. He said he has been approached by restaurateurs for decades, but always turned them down. Until now.

“It was always the same, a sports bar,” he said. “Never anything unique. But all the dynamics here, they’re just perfect.”

Nanne has an ownership stake in the business, but a less defined day-to-day role.

“I expect I’ll spend a lot of time there,” he said, referring to himself as the restaurant’s “No. 1 taster.” In that capacity, he is insisting on one menu item: a bucatini Bolognese, based on his wife’s recipe. “I’d have it seven nights a week, if I could,” he said with a laugh.

Cuningham Group, the Minneapolis architectural firm, is designing the building’s refurbishment, which will include, when weather permits, an 80-seat patio (image, above, provided by Cuningham).

McDermott said he’s aiming at a February 2016 opening.

McDermott is also converting the closing-soon Rosedale location of Romano’s Macaroni Grill (the company is exiting Minnesota) to a Rojo Mexican Grill, with a targeted November opening.

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