A popular Duluth institution is branching out to downtown Minneapolis.
Rod Raymond and Tim Nelson, co-owners of Duluth's landmark Fitger’s Brewhouse, are purchasing the historic North Loop building that last housed Trocaderos (107 3rd Av. N.) and plan to open a branch of their 19-year-old brewpub. “Our goal is to bring a taste of northern Minnesota to the heart of downtown Minneapolis,” said Raymond.
So far, not a lot of details, in part because the opening won't happen until late fall or early winter. “What we do know for sure is that it’s going to be a neighborhood place, like the Brewhouse,” said Raymond. "We're going to have some fun with it."
Fitger's Brewhouse co-owners Tim Nelson (left) and Rod Raymond.
The basic plan is to feature six to eight house-brewed ales, along with food and live music, in a dramatic setting; the brewery will be built around the former Trocaderos stage, and the roomy music listening room is going to be re-christened the Beer Hall. “We’re going to rock out right in the brewery,” said Raymond. “You’ll be able to hear an eclectic mix of music while you’re sipping one of our blueberry porters or our Starfire pale ale. It’s going to be great.”
One tiny hitch: The brewery won’t be up and running for the first six months of operations, thanks to the high demand -- and subsequent long waiting list -- for brewing equipment. Until then, the bar will import Fitger’s brewmaster Dave Hoops’ top-rated Duluth-made ales. “You can count on Dave Hoops to put out some pretty damned good beers,” said Raymond. “And we’re going to have guest taps of all the locally made beers that we love -- Summit, Fulton, Surly -- so we’ll be a full ale house when you get there.”
(In the Small World Department, Hoops' brother Michael Hoops is head brewer at Town Hall Brewery in Minneapolis).
Brewmaster Dave Hoops.
On the food side, there’s not a lot that has been figured out, although Raymond said they’ll offer many of the beer-friendly classics served in Duluth, including Fitger's famous wild rice burger.
“We’re also going to do pizzas,” said Raymond. “And we’re going to have to have some nice macaroni dishes.”
That’s because the building -- parts of which date to 1892 -- is where James T. Williams developed quick-cooking elbow macaroni, later manufacturing it under the Creamette name.
Why Minneapolis? “Tim and I just think that Minneapolis folks appreciate what we do in Duluth,” said Raymond. “Their message is clear: Let’s get that great beer down here.”
The duo also own Duluth’s popular Burrito Union restaurant and Redstar nightclub. Last year they opened Tycoons Alehouse & Eatery, a few blocks west of Fitger’s Brewhouse in Duluth’s former city hall, a building that also coincidentally dates to the 1890s. “We opened them so that we could sell more beer,” said Raymond.
As for the new Minneapolis outpost, Raymond said to expect to see a "warehouse/industrial" look replace the blandly suburban remnants of Trocaderos (Locus Architecture of Minneapolis is designing the space's reinvention), along with some lively outdoor seating, possibly even a rooftop component. “We have to figure out if that’s practical and doable,” he said. There’s no name yet, either.
“Keep in mind, this is a work in progress,” said Raymond with a laugh. “Who knows? Tomorrow we could be a lutefisk restaurant.”