A premium downtown Minneapolis restaurant address, dark for 14 months, is coming back to life.
Noa is moving into the street-level IDS Center space that was most recently home to Mission American Kitchen.
The restaurant is the work of Infuse Hospitality, which made its first incursion into the Twin Cities dining market in 2018 when it opened Fairgrounds Coffee & Tea in the North Loop.
"The IDS Center is iconic, it's really the epicenter of the city," said CEO Michael Schultz. "Minneapolis has become such an amazing food city. I love doing business in Minneapolis, and I look forward to doing more."
Chicago-based Infuse Hospitality creates food and beverage concepts for hotels, corporate facilities and college campuses.
The five-year-old company also operates eight Fairgrounds locations across the country.
Mission American Kitchen closed in March 2020 — shortly before the start of the pandemic — after a 17-year run. The space, on the 7th Street side of the IDS Crystal Court between Marquette Avenue and Nicollet Mall, was home to Aquavit from 1998 to 2003.
"It's great news for Minneapolis, and we all need good news these days," said Deb Kolar, the IDS Center's general manager.
"It's a great amenity for the 3,000 tenants in the tower on any given day, and it re-energizes a space that's very much an anchor of the Crystal Court."
The menu will focus on seasonal California cooking, including tacos made with heirloom tortillas, salads, sandwiches and a wide variety of protein options.
The bar will feature craft cocktails plus wine and local beers. A chef has yet to be hired.
"We're looking at creative, entrepreneurial folks," said Schultz.
Infuse also plans on hosting a few celebrity chef-driven ghost kitchen operations.
"These will be nationally known chefs," said Schultz. "That's the ultimate amenity, where you don't have to get on a plane to have access to the work of chefs from other parts of the country."
Barker Nestor, the Chicago architectural firm behind the design of Fairgrounds Coffee & Tea, is managing the project. The 240-seat restaurant will follow the space's current configuration, retaining its bar and private and semiprivate dining spaces as well as the Crystal Court "patio."
The interior will feature neutral earthy tones with black accents, a custom mural and lots of greenery.
"We're significantly changing the look of the space," said Schultz. "Even if it's snowing outside, it's going to transport you to a place where you feel like you're on vacation. It's going to be a space that services the building and caters to people from ages 8 to 80."
Schultz has named Noa after his 7-year-old daughter. Another family tie? His wife, Sari, is from Plymouth.
"Its meaning in Hebrew is 'movement' and 'motion,' " he said. "That's a way that we like to describe the concept, because it will be constantly moving.
"You'll be able to go there a couple times of day and have a phenomenal experience, maybe for a casual lunch, or cocktails after work, or dinner before the game."
Crystal Court is undergoing a $5 million makeover, with a grand opening planned for July 22, which coincides with the city's annual Aquatennial festivities. "Summer" is the closest that Schultz will venture for Noa's opening date.
"We'd like to open the same time as the Crystal Court, but there are so many variables that it's difficult to pinpoint," he said.
"We know that we don't want to open when it's cold outside, although it always feels like summer in the Crystal Court."
Rick Nelson • @RickNelsonStrib