Faces Mears Park (373 Sibley St., St. Paul, facesmearspark.com, 651-209-7776) in Lowertown will close at the year’s end and reopen in 2017 with a new concept, look and name. Chef and restaurateur David Fhima opened it in 2010.

“There are some very big changes ahead, and I’m really excited,” Fhima said.

Fhima, who was born in Morocco and raised in Paris, made his name locally with a trio of restaurants — Fhima’s, Mpls. Cafe and Louis XIII, all of which have since closed — before opening Faces, an upscale Moroccan, French and Mediterranean foods restaurant.

The eatery will transition to what Fhima is calling “a French bistro with a little bit of an American flair” that will focus on classics and simple dishes when it opens in March or April next year.

“It’s going to be fine dining quality and service with informal pricing and attitudes,” said Fhima, who is still dreaming up the new place’s name. “We live in a city with great restaurants and chefs. So it’s not just how do we compete but how do we up our game?

“I think we have a concept that St. Paul is really going to love.”

Fhima — who was also recently tapped to create a new menu for the premium suites at the Minnesota Timberwolves’ arena, Target Center — said the renovated Faces will have the feel of a Parisian bistro, with plenty of dark wood and contemporary design. The expanded bar will feature 32 beer taps and a 30-foot-long, 15-foot-high wall of Champagne and liqueurs. The entrance, which can be easily missed from the street now, will become more prominent.

The menu will be handled by Faces sous chef Adam Milledge, who is being promoted to chef de cuisine. There are plans for a croque monsieur, terrines, scrambled eggs with bone marrow and brioche, beef bourguignon and chocolate mousse, among other dishes. Meanwhile, the focus on pastries and baked goods will remain, with pastry chef Tammy Seim at the helm.

“I want to take all the things I’ve messed up and fix them, and all the things I’ve done well and do them again,” Fhima said. “I’ve calmed down as a chef. I don’t yell and scream as much. But I am still very passionate about what I do.”


Saying goodbye

Ristorante Luci (ristoranteluci.com, 651-699-8258), an Italian eatery that was popular during the 1990s, will shutter its 470 S. Cleveland Av. location on Dec. 31 after nearly 30 years.

The family-run business will continue at nearby Luci Ancora (2060 Randolph Av., St. Paul, luciancora.com, 651-698-6889), which is entering its 19th year.

“We have had some beautiful years in the cozy space of 470 Cleveland Avenue,” said a statement from Al, Stephen, Daniela and Maria Smith.

“It is our mother and father’s original dream of sharing deliciously made, handcrafted Italian-inspired dishes in a warm and inviting setting where we can gather with family, friends and acquaintances to enjoy.”

Meanwhile, St. Louis Park’s Beek’s Pizza closed Nov. 14 after 59 years.



The sixth annual Charlie Awards, announced Sunday, celebrate excellence in the Twin Cities food and drink scene. Congrats to all the winners, including Outstanding Restaurant Joan’s in the Park (631 S. Snelling Av., St. Paul, 651-690-3297, joansinthepark.com); Outstanding Chef J.D. Fratzke of the Strip Club Meat & Fish (378 Maria Av., St. Paul, 651-793-6247, domeats.com) and Saint Dinette (261 E. 5th St., St. Paul, 651-800-1415, saintdinette.com); and Outstanding Bartender Nathaniel Smith of Spoon and Stable (211 N. 1st St., Mpls., 612-224-9850, spoonandstable.com). The well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award went to Lynne Rossetto Kasper, host of American Public Media’s “The Splendid Table.” For a complete list of winners, see StarTribune.com/taste.

Read full reviews and more restaurant news at startribune.com/dining.