It’s not a done deal, yet, but it’s close.

Cafe Maude owner Kevin Sheehy (pictured, above) is planning on opening a restaurant/bar in the Loring Park space currently occupied by Nick and Eddie. “We just need to get our hands on a lease,” said Sheehy. “That’s the final nail, so to speak, and as long as it’s satisfactory, we’ll be moving forward on our plan. It’s hard to keep this kind of thing under wraps. But it’s all very friendly between Joe [Whitney, the landlord], and Doug [Anderson, of Nick and Eddie] and I. Joe has been very generous.”

Anderson is being more cautious. “It’s premature to comment,” he said. “Kevin and I have been talking for a couple of months, so yeah, there’s plenty of speculation out there. But there’s no more sure way to screw up a deal than to start talking about it out of school.”

Word on the street has it that Nick and Eddie might relocate around the corner, to an empty Hennepin Avenue storefront most recently occupied by an advertising agency. “That’s premature, too,” said Anderson. “There has been some talk about that, it has come up as a possibility.”

As for details of the new restaurant, Sheehy is calling it Cafe Maude at Loring. “For a long time I debated about whether to re-brand,” said Sheehy. “I was thinking of naming it Theo’s, after Theodore Wirth, to celebrate another under-the-radar Minnesotan [Cafe Maude is named for 20th century parks advocate Maude Armatage]. But I ultimately decided to carry our brand over.”

The new restaurant will be led by Cafe Maude chef Matthew Kempf and cocktail whiz Adam Harnes. Architect Jim Smart is designing the space and, as she did at the original Cafe Maude, Minneapolis textile artist Ann Hall Richards has been enlisted to create distinctive lighting fixtures.

The new place will also adapt the original Maude's jewel-tone color palette, although it won't exactly mirror its food and drink offerings. “We’re going to have fun with the menu,” said Sheehy. “Something different from Maude, but keeping the same qualities.”

Doors will open at 4 p.m. daily, starting with a two-hour happy hour (in Maude-speak, it's "Leisure Hour") and remain open to midnight Sunday through Wednesday and to 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday, with live music on Friday and Saturday. “The idea of closing my joint at 2 a.m. just makes me tired,” said Sheehy with a laugh.

Why Loring? In part, it’s the space. “The potential is huge,” said Sheehy. “For starters, it’s southern exposure, overlooking the park, with 20 feet of glass.”

But the neighborhood is also a magnetic draw. “When it comes to expanding, I’ve always thought, ‘Do I go to Maple Grove, or Eden Prairie, or do I go where my heart is, in the city?’” said Sheehy. “And I can’t think of another location that speaks more to my heart than Loring Park. It’s my favorite part of the city — that, and the river, around the Stone Arch Bridge — and it’s really the heart of everything. I’d love to buy a condo there, if I can ever make any money.”

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