Landon Schoenefeld of HauteDish is calling his Nighthawks a “nocturnal diner,” a dinner and late-night destination (and brunch, of course) specializing in staples from the blue plate universe. In an adjacent space he’s jumping on another trend — multicourse, fixed-priced dinners — in a 20-seater called Birdie (“We’re hoping it becomes the ultimate chef’s table,” he said). Nighthawks will open early in the year, and Birdie will follow a few months later.
In Linden Hills, Erick Harcey of Victory 44 is transforming a former hardware store into a triptych: an all-day neighborhood restaurant, a low-key retail grab-and-go and an interactive facility that will support everything from demonstrations and cooking classes to a three- to four-night per week multicourse, fixed-priced dinner. No name yet, and a midwinter opening is in the works.
Restaurant Alma is adding a casual cafe component, as is the Bachelor Farmer. Meanwhile, Heartland is retooling its Farm Direct Market, phasing out some of its retail components and beefing up its counter-service deli format; the name may change to Heartland Sausage Co. to reflect the hot dogs and other sausages that chef/co-owner Lenny Russo and his crew are producing for neighboring CHS Field, the new home of the St. Paul Saints, set to open May 21.
The city’s biggest eye-grabber (and talker) is surely going to be the 60-foot Ferris wheel outside Betty Danger’s Country Club, brought to you by the folks behind the similarly amusing Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge. Also in northeast Minneapolis, Ann Kim of Pizzeria Lola is working out details of a project.
Restaurateur Ryan Burnet (Bar La Grassa, Barrio, Burch Steak and Pizza Bar) has signed a lease for a 6,000-square-foot space in Latitude 45, a 319-unit apartment building opening in the summer in downtown Minneapolis.
Expect sushi-meets-1970s Las Vegas in the North Loop at Shag, from the restaurateur behind Rojo Mexican Grill. The Wedge Co-op is getting into the restaurant business with the dine-in/takeout Wedge Table, debuting in late January.
Smack Shack co-owners Josh Thoma and Kevin Fitzgerald, James Beard-nominated chef Jack Riebel (formerly of Butcher & the Boar) and front-of-the-house titan Lorin Zinter (formerly of Heyday) are devoting their collective creative energy — and considerable capital — to restoring two legendary Twin Cities restaurants: the Lexington and the art deco wonder that is Forum Cafeteria. Both will reopen in 2015, the latter renamed Il Foro to reflect its contemporary Italian menu, created by Troy Unruh, a veteran of Del Posto, Mario Batali’s top-rated Manhattan restaurant.
Short-lived BoneYard Kitchen & Bar is closing Dec. 24 and reopening in January as the third outlet of Salsa a la Salsa. And when it opens in the spring, the restaurant component of the long-awaited, $30 million Surly Brewing Co. complex (portions of which open Dec. 19) will be run by former Solera chef Jorge Guzman.