Road construction, that insidious killer of restaurants, has claimed another victim.
Well, sort of. Fortunately, in the case of the Rail Station Bar & Grill, the wound isn’t mortal. The Minnehaha Avenue restaurant is closing after Saturday night’s service, and then owner Steve Benowitz and his crew will take a few frenzied weeks to renovate and rebrand.
When the restaurant re-opens in mid-July, there will be a new name on the door: the Howe — Daily Kitchen & Bar.
“We have all of this road construction going on in front of us on Minnehaha,” said Luke Derheim, operations manager for Benewitz's Craft & Crew Hospitality. “So what better time, after being open for 12 years, to do some work of our own?”
The dining room and bar are slated to receive top-to-bottom revamps. So will the menus. First, the bar.
“We’re going to focus on Minneapolis-based spirits,” said Derheim. “Du Nord — which is just up the street — and Tattersall, and others. We’re bringing in a new mixologist, and he’s going to help us build fresh cocktails from the ground up.”
The bar’s 40 taps are going to be dominated by locally brewed beers.
Chef Carlos Olivar — he also oversees the kitchen at sibling establishments Pub 819 (home to one of the western suburbs’ better burgers) and Stanley’s Northeast Bar Room — plans to develop new signature dishes, including fried chicken. Also in the works: a boost to the restaurant’s a.m. offerings.
“We did a lot of research in the neighborhood,” said Derheim. “We conducted tons of focus groups and listened to what residents want, and what we kept hearing was ‘more breakfast’ and ‘better breakfast.’”
Those responses have translated into longer a.m. hours, with a projected opening time of 6:30 a.m. (right now it’s 8 a.m.), plus an increase in the number of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free menu options.
Dog owners, take note: the patio is taking a page from the Stanley’s playbook, and offering a canine menu.
“Pooched eggs, turkey ‘mutt’ loaf, that kind of thing,” said Derheim with a laugh. “We’re hoping to develop a heavy emphasis on people walking to the restaurant, with their dogs.”
The dedicated bike lanes that are a part of Minnehaha Av.’s reconstruction have not gone unnoticed.
“We’re hoping to get a lot more bikers coming up from Minnehaha Park,” said Derheim. “We’ll be adding a lot more bike parking.”
For drivers put off by orange barrels and detour signs, fear not. Derheim is hoping that the the work inside the building will coincide with the work outside the building.
“We’re timing our mid-July re-opening with the road construction out front,” said Derheim. “Our stretch of Minnehaha should be opening at the same time.”