If Sea Salt Eatery co-owners Jon Blood and Chris Weglinski aren't busy serving up fish tacos and an ever-changing array of seafood specials at their Minnehaha Park restaurant, they've probably gone fishing.
Sea Salt, which opened in 2005, combines the owners' longtime passion for cooking, serving -- and eating -- fresh fish and other seafood. The restaurant's seasonal schedule -- it's open only from April through October -- also affords them and their 50 employees plenty of downtime for fishing or other pursuits. Not that Weglinski and Blood don't go whenever they can the rest of the year, as photos of them with some of the monster muskies they've caught attest. They're out on the Mississippi River or urban lakes as often as possible before, after or even during work, if a rainy day slows the usual rush of diners.
"I wouldn't have a year-round restaurant," said Blood, who grew up fishing on Lake Calhoun. "Our employees, too. It's such a hard job, then we miss it, come back and do it again."
The restaurant goes through 5,000 pounds of fish a week or more, all of it from Minneapolis wholesaler Coastal Seafoods, where Blood and Weglinski worked for 14 years and 10 years, respectively.
They spent 120 hours a week at Sea Salt in its first year, Blood said, but now put in roughly half that time. Weglinski, who began fishing with his father and grandfather, concocts the specials while Blood focuses on standard menu items and the restaurant's business side.
Three and out with Jon Blood and Chris Weglinski
- When did you get the idea of opening a restaurant?
Blood: Right after I started working at Coastal Seafoods. I knew there had to be a market for a lower-key place, more like a crab shack, not a fancy place. And it panned out.
- How did you find this location (in the park's former concession stand, near Minnehaha Falls)?
Blood: I was walking down here in the winter of 2004-05. I looked in the windows and there was nothing going on in here. I called the city and asked if I could put a restaurant in. After three months of negotiations, they said sure.
- Any muskie fishing tips?
Weglinski: Keep casting.
Blood: Keep your beer down and cast. Although Chris is pretty efficient at doing both at the same time.
Weglinski: I've got a jacket you can put it in, a mechanic's jacket, [a pocket] fits a can perfectly.