The plan was to open a second location of Bap and Chicken, the Korean-style fried chicken restaurant that opened on St. Paul’s Grand Avenue last year.
The plan was not for it to be on wheels.
But owner John Gleason’s pandemic-driven pivot involved thinking outside the brick-and-mortar box, and taking his brand expansion on the road.
The Bapmobile, which he launched last month, is just one of a slew of new food-and-drink spots opening in the Twin Cities amid, despite and in some cases because of the pandemic.
Opening a food truck second was “a little backward” of how things usually go with restaurants, Gleason said. But by already having a kitchen he could use as a commissary for the truck, he’s steps ahead of businesses that are starting from scratch.
“I think that’s perfectly OK,” he said. And, “it’s a huge moving billboard.”
Gleason found a fully loaded truck for sale, and acted fast to get up and running. Conception to launch took only five weeks.
The Bapmobile is booking dates at breweries and events all over the metro with a simplified menu: chicken tenders, four sauces (instead of 12 at the restaurant), a rice bowl, cheese curds and fried tofu. Plus, Korean “street toast” — a grilled sandwich with Spam, cheese and vegetables — that you can’t get at the restaurant. As the weather cools, Gleason is planning to introduce Korean soups, too. Track its location at bapmobilemn.com.
As for a second brick-and-mortar location, that’s still the plan — just maybe not for another year.
This and more new spots are now open, and even more are on the horizon in the Twin Cities food and drink scene. For more openings, closings and announcements, check out our Restaurant Roll Call.
Lake City Sandwiches (2551 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls.) is a new sandwich spot from the team behind Nightingale. It’s offering sandwich pickup and delivery daily 4 p.m. to midnight. Sandwiches (smoked ricotta, albacore tuna, lamb meatball, etc.) come on housemade focaccia with sustainably farmed meats. There are salads, matzo ball soup and housemade chips, too. Fifty cents from every sandwich goes toward a charity that changes monthly.
Folly Coffee, a small-batch Minnesota coffee roaster, is offering a behind-the-scenes look at the roastery at the new Folly Coffee Tasting & Tour Room (4290 Park Glen Road, St. Louis Park, 612-297-7888). The 30-minute tour ($12, weekends only) culminates in a guided coffee tasting. There’s no cafe service or takeout on site, but you can pre-order beans to go.
Restaurateur Luke Shimp has teamed up with US Foods to open a “virtual food hall,” Kenwood Food & Beverage. Four concepts operate out of the kitchen at his Uptown Minneapolis restaurant Red Cow: Chicken Republic (sandwiches, wings and fried chicken), Venice Salads & Bowls, Shakee Shakee (shakes), and burgers from Red Cow. Food is available for delivery only. Opens Sept. 30.
The Johnson family behind BlackStack Brewing in St. Paul is opening Bricksworth Beer Co. (12257 Nicollet Av. S., Burnsville), with food by Angelo Pennacchio, chef-owner of the now-closed Bar Luchador, and beer by Steve Snyder, a brewer formerly of Fair State. Detroit Style steel-pan pizza, wings and salad will be on the menu. Opening the first week in October.
Chef Alejandro Castillon’s Lake-and-Lyndale taqueria Prieto closed its Lake Street location Sept. 12, but is moving to a new location in south Minneapolis in October. At the new space (4751 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls.), Castillon is switching to more casual counter service and adding a ceviche and raw bar.
Chef Hector Ruiz is converting his southwest Minneapolis restaurant Don Raúl into El Travieso Taqueria (4953 Xerxes Av. S., Mpls.).
Bull & Finch Pub is taking over the former Jake O’Connor’s space on Excelsior’s Water Street (200 Water St., 952-246-1030). Look for craft cocktails, beer and “pub classics with a modern twist,” such as fish and chips, burgers and mussels.
L’More Chocolat, a Wayzata chocolate shop that specializes in Parisian-style confections, custom bars and handmade truffles, is relocating to downtown Minneapolis in the 1892 Bellevue building (1229 Hennepin Av., Mpls., 612-940-8747).
Northeast Minneapolis is slated to get a new coffee shop and wine bar in two parts, when Coquette & Colibri gradually opens in the months ahead. First, Colibri Cafe will offer coffee, soups, sandwiches and baked goods sometime this winter. Next spring will bring Coquette Wine Bar, with small plates, charcuterie, vegan items and, of course, wine. Both concepts will inhabit the newly remodeled 200 NE. Lowry Av., Mpls.