The first Minnesota location of chef Justin Sutherland's burgeoning sandwich chain, Big E, will open alongside Grand Ole Creamery in its recently closed pizza restaurant. Sutherland was excited to finally reveal the new location: "You know, St. Paul is home."
Sutherland's first restaurant, Handsome Hog, is located nearby in the Cathedral Hill neighborhood.
The first Big E location opened last summer in Portland, Ore., inside the Moxy Hotel with a menu lineup of musically inspired sandwiches. The Dance Yrself Clean combines bacon, egg, Tillamook cheddar and Cry Baby Craig's aioli on a squishy bun. The C.R.E.A.M. sandwich brings bagel vibes to a bun with smoked salmon, dill, cream cheese, caper aioli, everything bagel seasoning, and a hardboiled egg. The name Big E is a nod to Biggie Smalls/the Notorious B.I.G., one of Sutherland's favorite rappers.
The new restaurant is expected to open before summer and will have a few seats inside, but also offer easy grab-and-go online ordering. Hours will be "early until late," and Sutherland was quick to point out that while eggs are featured on plenty of sandwiches, the shop serves more than early morning pick-me-ups.
Custom-made Japanese-style milk bread buns from St. Paul's Rose Street Patisserie will serve as the base for each bite; Minneapolis' Misfit Coffee Co. will provide the coffee program. Cheeses come from a partnership with Oregon's famous Tillamook creamery and the house hot sauce is Cry Baby Craig's, the Minnesota-made fermented habañero sauce from Sutherland's chef friend Craig Kaiser.
Prices are expected to range from $14 to $17, although final details are still in the works. The restaurant also has applied for a wine and beer liquor license.
Sutherland says he is knocking on wood that construction will move relatively swiftly. "There isn't much that needs to be done to the space," he said. Although he's not quite ready to guess when Big E will be ready to open — just that it should be soon.
And that's not all. This is just the first planned Twin Cities location. Sutherland and Big E had been working on a Minneapolis opening when the Grand Avenue location became available.
Sutherland rose to national celebrity after winning the Food Network's "Iron Chef America" reality cooking competition in 2018 and appearing on Bravo's "Top Chef" in 2019. He has gone on to host and appear on several culinary-focused shows, including TruTV's "Fast Foodies" and as a judge on "Chopped." Last year he released his first cookbook, "Northern Soul," which also is the name of the food concept Sutherland operates inside Uptown Ties.
Big E, 750 Grand Av., St. Paul, eatbige.com