Expect to see a lot of Sean Sherman in the coming months. The co-founder of the Sioux Chef and partner Dana Thompson plan to open the Indigenous Food Lab, a nonprofit with a classroom kitchen and restaurant. “We want to be a resource for indigenous food knowledge and education,” Sherman said. “It’s a model that we hope to open in cities all over the nation and work with youth to build skills.” They’re close to announcing a Twin Cities location, and a 2019 opening date.
Meanwhile, the duo are also gearing up for their restaurant at Water Works, the downtown Minneapolis park on the west side of the Mississippi River at St. Anthony Falls. Taking over the site that was once home to Fuji Ya, the casual counter-service restaurant will feature indoor and outdoor dining spaces (along with special events venues) and a menu of indigenous foods. “Fish and game and birds from the region, and heirloom corns and wild rice,” Sherman said. “We cut out things like dairy, wheat flour and processed cane sugar. It’s a different style of food, but it’s the food that comes from here.”
The restaurant — the name is under wraps, for now — will occupy a sacred spot for the Dakota people. “The name of the waterfalls in Dakota means ‘the place of the swirling waters,’ ” Sherman said. “It’s important to talk about these sacred sites, and how far back the history goes. We want to tell the story of that Dakota perspective.” Look for a 2020 opening.
The year’s first major opening is set for Jan. 7, when P.S. Steak debuts in the former La Belle Vie space near Loring Park in Minneapolis. Chef Mike DeCamp knows this real estate well, having cooked in the La Belle Vie kitchen for nearly a decade. “At first, it felt weird to be here,” he said. “But it got really comfortable fast.” The building’s lounge will remain casual, with a menu to match, and the dining room is getting its own bar. “We’re not going to reinvent the steakhouse, but we’re going to make it a little different,” DeCamp said. One way that’ll happen is through the introduction of seasonality (a natural, given that Wyatt Evans, chef/owner of the former Heirloom, is in the kitchen) to what is often a rigid, year-round format; no asparagus in December here.
Another bit of hallowed dining real estate will come back to life when Young Joni co-owners Ann Kim and Conrad Leifur transform the former Lucia’s Restaurant space in Uptown into a corn tortilla-centric Mexican restaurant.
On the subject of tasting menus, Travail Kitchen & Amusements will be switching it up big-time. Chefs Mike Brown, James Winberg and Bob Gerken are building a new home for their restaurant — across the street from its current spot — and will use the space to offer a single-seating experience for 40 diners per night. The old Travail spot will be converted into a new residence for Pig Ate My Pizza, adding a brewery. During construction, the collective will operate a pop-up in the Lowry Hill space that was most recently home to Bradstreet Craftshouse.
In the suburbs: 6Smith owner Randy Stanley has chosen Roseville’s Rosedale area to build Baldamar, which he’s billing as a “modern American” steakhouse. The Copper Cow Bar & Kitchen, from the owners of the Copper Hen Cakery & Kitchen, will bring burgers and fries to a gutted-and-rebuilt Dairy Queen in Minnetonka.
Across the street, the Store Formerly Known as Dayton’s is being reborn as the Dayton’s Project, and while most of the building is being converted to offices, the remake includes a large food hall component. Also downtown: Expect to find a full-service restaurant inside the historic Rand Tower when the 1929 office building is reborn as a hotel.
Northern Fires Pizza chef/owner Arie Peisert will open a brick-and-mortar version of his farmers market pizza stand, building a wood-burning oven at the former Dragon City Cafe.
Finally, when the Minneapolis Institute of Art announces its campus master plan — led by British architect David Chipperfield — please have it include a new restaurant.
Correction: In an earlier version of this story, the owner of 6Smith was incorrectly identified. He is Randy Stanley.