In an unprecedented show of support from their peers, more than 70 Twin Cities restaurants are coming together on March 14 to benefit Blackbird and Heidi’s Minneapolis following the February fire that destroyed both south Minneapolis businesses.
“Fork the Fire” will allow diners to contribute in several ways. Dozens of local restaurants will offer specials that day at brunch, lunch and/or dinner — the program is different at each location, so call ahead to verify — with proceeds benefitting the two restaurants.
See the complete list of participating restaurants below (we've been updating the list as more restaurants sign on).
Capping the day are a pair of special events. At Mission American Kitchen, diners can drop in and enjoy dishes prepared by Heidi’s chef/co-owner Stewart Woodman and chefs from a dozen Twin Cities restaurants, including Sameh Wadi of Saffron Restaurant & Lounge, Jack Riebel of Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant and Vincent Francoual of Vincent. Cost is $30, and the event runs from 2 to 8 p.m. Other participating restaurants include Broders' Cucina Italiana, Cave Vin, Deco Catering, Edina Grill, Jax Cafe, Cafe Lurcat, Masa, Murray's and Pierre's Bistro.
Meanwhile, at Cafe Twenty Eight, diners can enjoy a buffet-style collaboration between Surly Beer and Blackbird chef/co-owner Chris Stevens. Cost is $25 (cash is preferred), and doors open at 6 p.m. Sign up for prizes too.
Diners unable attend an event on the 14th can make a donation (contributions are not tax-deductible) to the Blackbird and Heidi’s Benefit Fund at Central Bank (2120 Hennepin Av. S. in Minneapolis. The Chef's Gallery in Stillwater is matching up to $1,000 in donations, and Classic Provisions, a fancy foods importer that supplies restaurants and retailers, is matching up to $500 in donations.
“Fork the Fire” is the brainchild of Molly Broder of Broders’ Cucina Italiana and Broders’ Pasta Bar, Vincent Francoual of Vincent, Alex Roberts of Restaurant Alma, Kip Clayton of Parasole Restaurant Holdings, Anoush and Elli Ansari of Hemisphere Restaurant Partners, Desta Klein of Meritage (she’s responsible for the cheeky FTF name) and semi-professional diners Bob and Sue Macdonald.
Restaurateurs and chefs aren’t the only participants. “Vendors have really come forward,” said Elli Ansari. “The wine people in particular have really made it easy for restaurants to donate by helping out on the other end. The outpouring of generosity and support has been incredible.”
The reason behind the event? Peace of mind. "Insurance is designed for specific, tangible needs," said Elli Ansari. "But this benefit is meant to help fill the gap during the months ahead, and those needs that can't be addressed by the parameters of insurance. The money will be collected and pooled and then split evenly between the two restaurants."
The event has come together quickly. “This effort has really taken on a momentum,” said Broder. “It’s been unreal. No one that we’ve approached, from the biggest to the smallest, has said ‘No.’ So far we’ve signed up 55 restaurants, and that number is growing by the minute.”
For Modern Cafe co-owner Jim Grell, pitching in was a no-brainer. “We had a fire in 1995, and we were closed for six weeks,” he said. “It was a difficult time emotionally, and it’s especially hard for the employees, who are left in a weird spot. When I got the email, I immediately thought, ‘Let’s do this.’ It’s so nice to see the city coming together like this. It never used to be this way.”
Restaurants participating in the March 14th event include: