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North Loop news: A change in chefs for the Hewing Hotel's Tullibee

Open just four months, and there’s already a change at the top at Tullibee, the handsome restaurant in the new Hewing Hotel in Minneapolis’ North Loop neighborhood.

Chef Grae Nonas, recruited with some fanfare from Austin, Texas, to Minneapolis, is leaving the restaurant.

His replacement? It’s another out-of-towner. He’s Bradley Day, and he’s coming to town armed with an impressive and varied resume. A native Australian, Day trained at TAFE International Western Australia in Perth, then spent a half-dozen years in London, cooking for Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Gordon Ramsay before moving on to the London branch of Asia de Cuba.

In 2003, that gig brought him to the United States, and Day became executive chef of the New York City outpost of Asia de Cuba. He continued to work for restaurateur Jeffrey Chodorow and his China Grill Management, opening Center Cut (a contemporary steakhouse), Bar Basque (Spanish), Kutsher’s Tribeca (a “modern Jewish-American” deli) for the company (all have subsequently closed). In 2015, Day became executive chef of STK Downtown, the New York City outpost of an upscale steakhouse/lounge chain run by the One Group.

Day is drawn to Minneapolis by the “opportunity to work with the fresh and seasonally diverse ingredients provided by the city’s many nearby farmers, purveyors and freshwater fisherman,” according to a statement. And, yes, Tullibee’s Nordic sensibilities and cooking style will remain in place, said a Hewing spokeswoman.

Day (pictured, above, in a provided photo) is scheduled to arrive in Minneapolis next month.

As for Nonas, he remains at Tullibee “and is currently slated to stay through mid-April to assist with transition,” said the spokeswoman. “There are no confirmed plans for him currently but he will remain in Minneapolis.”

During his brief tenure at Tullibee, Nonas (a 2015 Food & Wine magazine Best New Chef) made quite a splash. Not only does he prepare what is easily the city’s tastiest lefse, but Nonas captured top honors at last month’s Cochon555, the annual competition that pits five of the region’s top chefs against one another in a heritage pork cook-off. He’ll compete with nine other regional finalists in the national Cochon555 in October in Chicago.

Wayzata's latest restaurant (serving breakfast and lunch) will come from Mill Valley Kitchen chef Mike Rakun

Chef Mike Rakun of Mill Valley Kitchen and the upcoming Mercy is opening a casual breakfast-and-lunch cafe, and guess where it’s landing?

No, not the North Loop. It's going into the Twin Cities’ other white-hot restaurant address: downtown Wayzata.

With the days of the Original Pancake House and Sunsets in the rear-view mirror, Rakun (pictured, above, in a Star Tribune file photo) sees an opening in that lakeside city's daytime market.    

“My wife has family there, and when we get together, we all start talking about restaurants, because everyone talks about restaurants, because everyone is interested in restaurants,” he said. “And the conversation invariably goes to, ‘Downtown Wayzata needs a breakfast place.’ I like breakfast, so let’s do it.”

He’s noting that the neighborhood doesn’t lack for a certain kind of a.m. competition. There’s the just-opened Bellecour, which operates a bakery, and the soon-to-open Rustica Bakery & Cafe. Still, Rakun’s not worried.

“They’re both great morning spots – I hope to buy all of my breads from Rustica --  but they’re not full service,” he said. “We’ll be bringing something different to downtown Wayzata, and I think that there’s a demand for that.”

The space (designed by Shea Inc. of Minneapolis) will feature an open kitchen and a large bar, a takeoff on the classic diner layout. There's a name, but Rakun's not releasing it just yet. And while he hasn’t sat down and formally composed a menu, he’s got ideas.

“People want simple and approachable at breakfast,” he said. “Pancakes, French toast, a skillet or two, a few eggs Benedict options,” he said. “Really good bacon and sausage and hash browns.”

Timeline? “Mid- to late-summer,” he said. “I’d like it earlier, but we’ll see where the construction puts us.”

Rakun's cafe is the latest tenant to sign a lease into the Promenade of Wayzata, a mixed-use project that includes housing, retail, restaurants (including District Fresh Kitchen + Bar) and the soon-to-open Hotel Landing.

“I love the location,” said Rakun. “It’s right on Lake Street, so there’s good visibility, and plenty of parking.”

It’s a neighborhood popping with restaurant openings and closings. Spoon and Stable chef/owner Gavin Kaysen debuted his Bellecour last week, moving into the space formerly occupied by the Blue Point. A few doors down, restaurateur Ryan Burnet’s Crisp & Green opened its doors late last year, taking over a former Wuollet Bakery outlet.

Also as previously mentioned, Rustica Bakery & Cafe is launching a Wayzata outpost in the Promenade, although there’s a slight change in plans; it’s not taking over the former Lunds & Byerly’s space (the store and cafe closed Jan. 22) but is moving into a different spot in the Promenade (target opening date: mid- to late-August). And when it opens in early summer, the Hotel Landing will have a restaurant, ninetwentyfive, led by former Lucia's Restaurant chef Ryan Lund.

Oh, and across the street, Sushi Fix chef/owner Billy Tserenbat is opening his Baja Haus on March 29.

Phew. That’s a lot of culinary action for a lakeside town with a population measuring in the four thousands. 

As for Mercy, Rakun's ongoing remake of Marin Restaurant & Bar in the Chambers Le Meridien hotel in downtown Minneapolis, “It’s on track,” he said. “We’re looking to open April 1st.”

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