Brian and Sarah Ingram, the couple that brought Hope Breakfast Bar to a historic St. Paul fire station, resurrected Selby Avenue's Gnome and re-lit Keg & Case's massive wood-burning hearth with Woodfired Cantina, haven't given up on St. Paul despite a rise in violent crime in the capital city — in fact, they're going even bigger.
As the massive, multimillion dollar Gateway mixed-use project nears completion across from Xcel Energy Center, the Ingrams are preparing to open yet another restaurant in St. Paul. The Apostle supper club and False Eye Doll Tiki Bar are two concepts that will share a 7,000-square-foot space as part of The Arlow on Kellogg, connected by a 1-acre patio. Think prime rib and tableside salad carts, with diners serenaded by a retro, lounge-style piano bar crooner five nights a week.
In a recent interview with Eye on St. Paul, Ingram said the project will be the fifth launched by his Purpose Driven Restaurants in the Twin Cities — with four in St. Paul. He said it marks his continued optimism for the city. This interview was edited for length.
Q: What's the idea behind your supper club and tiki bar concepts?
A: I have wanted to do a supper club for years. And this one is going to have a very Palm Springs, 1960s vibe to it. The bar and kitchen will be at the center of the restaurant. There will be a giant sunken living room, with a fireplace in the center of that space.
Q: And the tiki bar?
A: It's going to have a "Mad Men" vibe, very retro Las Vegas. Think Old School cheesy Elvis. We just really like the idea of "How do we create these spaces that transport people?"
Q: The fact that you are doing this still, even in the wake of the October shooting at the Truck Park Bar just a few blocks away, seems to say that you remain committed to St. Paul. Are you?
A: Absolutely. Look, I've been very vocal on crime. [Both the Gnome and Hope have been burglarized and a frustrated Ingram briefly mulled running for mayor.] The Truck Park was my concept when it opened. But I am betting on St. Paul's future. The city, the people, were just so good to us during the pandemic. Unfortunately, right now, it's suffering from all this violent crime that is happening. We want to be part of righting the ship. We're trying to make St. Paul what it was and what it should be."
Q: But you continue to say you're frustrated with Mayor Melvin Carter and the City Council's response to crime. Why?
A: I'm not at all confident is the powers that be to do anything. Look, we have paid for seven funerals this year for kids who have died [in gun violence in the Twin Cities]. But doing nothing [to add police] while talking about your comprehensive plan [to address the causes of crime] ... well, I hope he gets overturned. I don't think there is any chance it will happen, but I hope he at least gets rattled.
Q: So why continue to invest in St. Paul?
A: Really, I'm putting my money on the community and the people who live in St. Paul. That's what I'm betting on.