Republic owner remaking Dan Kelly’s

The changes go beyond a few words above the door.

Owner Marc Maslow is retiring, and has sold his vaguely Irish establishment — the kind of welcoming, low-wattage refuge that has evolved from downtown staple to anachronism — to Matty O’Reilly. He’s the owner of 318 Cafe (318 Water St., Excelsior, www.three-eighteen.com), Republic (221 Cedar Av. S., Mpls., and 3001 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., www.republicmn.com) and Red River Kitchen food truck (www.redriverkitchen.com), and he plans to go deep with the whole Irish thing.

“I’ve been wanting to do this for forever,” said O’Reilly. “I’ve just been looking for the right space to come along.”

Enter Dan Kelly’s (the name, by the way, is a mash-up of Maslow’s children’s names: son Dan and daughter Kelly; Maslow has owned the place since 1997, converting what had been the Court Bar).

O’Reilly was drawn to the property’s ornate, 44-foot wood bar, the long row of booths, the working kitchen and the square footage that will allow the addition of a small stage for live Irish music. The plan is to run through a light renovation when O’Reilly takes possession Dec. 1, mostly paring the space of its beer signs and TV screens.

“They don’t resonate with the natural beauty of the place,” he said. “It’s more or less a turnkey space. We’re going to put on a coat of paint and put a new menu out front. Why not make use of a perfectly good facility?”

Menu-wise, it’s back to the basics. Republic chef Keven Kvalsten is putting his spin on Irish comfort-food classics: a stout-Cheddar fondue with apples and house-baked brown bread, battered house-made sausage and chips, lamb stew with Irish stout and root vegetables, minced beef shepherd’s pie, boxty (potato pancakes with creme fraiche and house-smoked salmon), bangers and mash, and more.

As for the bar, O’Reilly has done his homework: 40-plus Irish whiskeys, and plenty of craft beers. The latter is not a surprise for a guy who is about to increase the number of taps at his Seven Corners outlet of Republic to an astounding 104. What is a surprise is that he won’t be featuring a lot of Irish brews.

“The ones that are available to us here in Minnesota are not a super-good reflection of the best beers from Ireland,” he said. “We’ll probably have Guinness and Harp, but we’ll leave the rest of the lines to craft beers from Minnesota and from around the United States.”

One emphasis will be hard ciders. O’Reilly has partnered with Mike and Gretchen Perbix of Sweetland Orchard in Webster, Minn., to create an exclusive line of hard ciders aged with whiskey-soaked oak.

“We wanted to go all-in with the authenticity,” he said. “What better way than to do that than with small batches, made here in Minnesota?”

A January opening is in the works.

And the winners are …

Winners of the fourth-annual Charlie Awards were announced Sunday afternoon at the Pantages Theatre in Minneapolis. The awards celebrate excellence in the Twin Cities’ food and drink scene.

Downtown Minneapolis newcomer Brasserie Zentral — from Meritage owners Russell and Desta Klein — was named Outstanding Restaurant.

Outstanding Chef honors went to Alex Roberts of Restaurant Alma and Brasa.

Corner Table landed two honors. Chef/co-owner Thomas Boemer won the Emerging Food Professional award, which salutes chefs with less than five years’ experience. The restaurant, which moved to a new home earlier this year, was also handed the Outstanding Service award.

Restaurateur Kim Bartmann was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement award. The award caps a busy year for Bartmann. Since January, the owner of Bryant-Lake Bowl, Barbette, Red Stag Supperclub, Gigi’s Cafe, Pat’s Tap and Bread & Pickle launched two restaurants — Tiny Diner and the Third Bird — and had a hand in the birth of a third, Kyatchi.

The award for Outstanding Pastry Chef went to John Kraus of Patisserie 46.

Vincent Francoual, chef/owner of Vincent, was named the year’s Community Hero.

Jesse Held of Borough, Parlour and Coup d’état was named Outstanding Bartender. Coup d’état also came up a winner in the Outstanding Restaurant Design category. The Uptown restaurant, opened in January.

Butcher & the Boar won Outstanding Beverage Program Honors, while the West Side IPA from Harriet Brewing was awarded Outstanding Local Craft Brew.

Two awards were determined by an open-to-the-public online poll (one that garnered 10,000 votes). The Moral Omnivore was named Outstanding Food Truck. The online poll also selected nominees for Outstanding Food Item, and a panel of expert judges chose the winner from six finalists. That award went to “The Grill Charlie’s,” a beef tenderloin sandwich with caramelized onions and horseradish mayonnaise served at the St. Paul Grill.

Winners are selected from a voting pool of 175 independently owned Twin Cities food-and-drink establishments.

The awards are organized by Ivey Awards founder Scott Mayer and longtime Twin Cities food advocate Sue Zelickson, and are named for Charlie’s Cafe Exceptionale, the fabled downtown Minneapolis restaurant that closed on July 21, 1982, after a 49-year run.

Congratulations to the winners.

Holiday festivities

Afternoon tea fans, take note: Marin Restaurant & Bar (901 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., www.marinrestaurant.com) is serving a three-course Christmas tea (with cider or cocoa, for the tea-averse) for four weekends, starting Nov. 29 and running each Saturday and Sunday through Dec. 21, with seatings at 2 and 3 p.m. The event includes holiday story readings and a tour of the life-size gingerbread wonderland in the restaurant’s courtyard. Cost is $30 per person. Reservations required at 612-767-8633.

Meanwhile, on Peavey Plaza (Nicollet Mall between 11th and 12th Streets, Mpls.), the first-ever Minneapolis Holiday Market will include a number of outdoor food-and-drink vendors. Expect to encounter cider and pastries made with Minnesota-grown apples, spiced mulled wine, cinnamon-sugar roasted almonds, potato pancakes, stollen, gingerbread, cheese, spaetzle and German beers. The market opens Nov. 28 and runs daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. through Dec. 23, and on Dec. 24 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

A Forum restoration

The team behind the revival of the Lexington (1096 Grand Av., St. Paul) is turning its attention to another historic property. This time, it’s the art deco wonder that is the Forum (40 S. 7th St., Mpls.). New name: Il Foro, with a modern Italian menu. More details at Startribune.com/taste.