On their own
After working for others, a number of chefs have struck out on their own: Hide Tozawa at Kyatchi, Jim Christiansen at Heyday, Eli Wollenzien at Coalition, Leonard Anderson at Tongue in Cheek and Ben Rients at Lyn 65 Kitchen & Bar. Coming soon: Gavin Kaysen at Merchant and Phillip Becht at Victor’s on Water.
Lakeside hot spots
Two Lake Minnetonka communities are destined to look back on 2014 as a transformative restaurant year. In downtown Wayzata, Cov Wayzata and 6Smith (pictured, above) have revived prominent lakeside properties — the former Sunsets and NorthCoast, respectively — Peoples Organic launched a downtown outpost and an upscale grocer created a restaurant-supermarket hybrid called Lunds and Byerly’s Kitchen. In Excelsior, the Suburban delivers burgers and beer, chef Eli Wollenzien has remade the former Biella into Coalition, longtime Modern Cafe chef Phillip Becht is close to opening Victor’s on Water and the iconic Old Log Theater’s multimillion-dollar remake includes a restaurant, Cast & Cru, led by chef Patrick Scot Moore.
The format of the moment
It’s all about the diner. There’s the Nicollet Diner, a breakfast-all-day spot on the edge of downtown Minneapolis that’s aiming for open-24-hours status. Restaurateur Kim Bartmann’s Tiny Diner (pictured, above) takes the genre into farm-to-table territory. Cook St. Paul is a smart (and Korean-influenced) remake of the classic Serlin’s Cafe, and Le Town Talk French Diner & Drinkery is putting a Gallic spin on an E. Lake Street landmark. There’s more: The team behind the Strip Club is launching Saint Dinette, and HauteDish chef Landon Schoenefeld is opening Nighthawks.
Three pizza chains — Pizza Rev, Pizza Studio and Tucci Pronto — have landed in the Twin Cities during the past 10 months. A fourth, Pieology, debuts its first local outlet in St. Paul’s Highland Park neighborhood this month, and a fifth, Chicago-based Giordano’s, will materialize in south Minneapolis early next year. Locals are in on the action, too, including Black Sheep Pizza, Digby’s Burgers-Pizza-Beer, Day Block Brewing Co., Pizzeria Pezzo, Olive’s Fresh Pizza Bar and the soon-to-open Red Wagon Pizza. Finally, Ann Kim of Pizzeria Lola and Hello Pizza is developing a new restaurant adjacent to Dangerous Man Brewing Co.
Like minor-league players dreaming of the majors, food truck operators continue to translate their mobile operations into brick-and-mortar locations. Hot Indian Foods and Hola Arepa have made the transition this year, along with Aki’s Bread Haus and Bogart’s Doughnut Co., which sprang forth from farmers market stands. Vellee Deli, Sassy Spoon and Red Wagon Pizza have permanent homes in the works.
Restoring the past
Hans’ Bakery returned to Anoka (and is expanding to Navarre) to the delight of doughnut lovers. Another beloved Anoka landmark became the new home of the Mad Hatter Tea Room, and the former address of century-old Peter’s Grill became the Hen House Eatery. Smack Shack co-owners Josh Thoma and Kevin Fitzgerald and former Butcher & the Boar chef Jack Riebel are reviving the Lexington.