When Sweet Chow closed in September, its North Loop address didn’t stay dark for long. Billy Tserenbat, the creative spark behind two Wayzata restaurants — Sushi Fix (which he sold in 2017) and Baja Haus — snapped up the space and began to plot his return to his beloved sushi universe. He’s converting the Sweet Chow bar into a sushi bar, and transforming Sweet Chow’s ice cream scoop shop into a whiskey-sake-shochu bar. It’s going to be a dinner-only format.
As for the skyway iteration of his Bibuta food truck, it’s history. The tiny Northstar Center spot opened in April 2019 and quietly went dark a few weeks ago. “I just got too busy here,” said Tserenbat. “I can’t split my time. I have to choose my dream, and that’s making sushi and being ‘Crazy Billy’ behind the sushi counter.”
116 1st Av. N., Mpls.
Opening: early May
Dayton’s Food Hall & Market
The massive former Dayton’s department store in downtown Minneapolis is undergoing a $214 million renaissance. Most of the 12-story building will be transformed into offices, but retail is planned for the street and skyway levels, and the lower level (translation: basement) will feature a 45,000-square-foot food hall, connected to the two floors above with an atrium cut into the building’s infrastructure.
There’s some historical symmetry involved, since portions of that floor were once devoted to Marketplace, a popular 1980s department store version of a food hall.
As for the 2020 iteration, there aren’t a lot of details. No tenants have been revealed, but the project is being overseen by celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern and Robert Montwaid of the 15-tenant Gansevoort Market in New York City.
The ornate first-floor space that was the longtime home of J.B. Hudson jewelers is also being eyed for a restaurant, but no tenant has been announced.
700 Nicollet Mall, Mpls.
Owner Lindsay Pohlad is planning a cafe/market/bar hybrid that will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and also feature a hefty takeout component. A wood-fueled oven will turn out flatbreads, pizzas, English muffins and other goodies.
“My approach to cooking is rustic, seasonal and approachable,” said Pohlad. The 60-seat cafe will include a long communal table and an eight-seat counter, and a 30-seat patio will front the building. The bar will serve beer, wine and coffee.
326 E. Broadway, Wazyata
For their second location, co-chefs and co-owners Stephan Hesse and Tyge Nelson are promising to replicate all the qualities that make their St. Paul contemporary Mexican restaurant such a pleasure.
There’s one big difference between the two properties: The new 50th-and-France outpost boasts a roomier kitchen, and that means opportunities for a larger menu.
The Edina address also includes another asset missing from Pajarito’s three-year-old St. Paul location: a private dining room and bar. “We’ll be able to use that for chef dinners, or pop-ups, or regular hockey team dinners,” said Hesse.
3910 W. 50th St., Edina, pajaritostp.com
Opening: late February/early March
Owner Greg Hoyt’s expansion to Southdale is motivated, in part, by parking. “To be successful in this business, parking is a necessity,” he said. “If we want to open another Rustica location, we know that we need parking, and lots of it. Southdale has a cornfield of parking. It goes on and on.” Hoyt was also taken by the specific location of his new outpost, which is part of the glam new Life Time complex that opened late last year. Look for a view into Life Time’s indoor soccer field, a patio when the weather cooperates and a 70-seat setting designed to encourage diners to linger over conversation or their laptops. Expect to encounter Rustica’s full array of breads and pastries, along with grab-and-go salads and sandwiches.
200 Southdale Center, Suite A, Edina, rusticabakery.com
Opening: late February
With this exciting new venture, the fourth generation of Surdyks are placing their imprint on their family-owned northeast Minneapolis landmark.
Following in the footsteps of the family’s wildly popular Surdyk’s Flights outpost at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (R.I.P., Terminal 1, still going strong at Terminal 2), the restaurant and bar will take advantage of the company’s best assets: the inventory of its well-stocked cheese shop and liquor store, plus the expertise of the folks behind those enterprises.
Location? They’re repurposing a chunk of sales floor real estate from the family’s busy retail store. The 41-year-old cheese shop is also getting an upgrade.
303 E. Hennepin Av., Mpls., surdyks.com
Travail Kitchen & Amusements
The glamorous, multilevel new home (designed by Peterssen Keller Architecture of Minneapolis) of this adventurous, forward-thinking restaurant will open in stages.
First up is the basement bar, scheduled to make its debut Feb. 19.
The rest of the building — which will feature a highly polished version of Travail’s patented zillion-course, prepaid tasting-menu format — will follow in about a month (look for tickets to be released on the restaurant’s website post-Valentine’s Day).
Until then, check out Uffda, the chef collective’s Scandinavian-inspired spread, a collaboration with former Corner Table chef Karyn Tomlinson, running through February at Travail’s Minneapolis pop-up location, 1930 S. Hennepin Av.
4131 W. Broadway, Robbinsdale,travailkitchen.com
Unnamed Birchwood Cafe-Minnesota Farmers Union collaboration
Building on their successful collaboration at the Minnesota State Fair, this farm-focused partnership is taking over the prime near-the-Guthrie site that was the longtime home of Spoonriver. Birchwood chef Marshall Paulsen has made his Seward neighborhood restaurant a prime example of what happens when kitchens pay attention to the seasons and tap locally produced ingredients — and cater to vegetarians and vegans — which makes the concept a fitting replacement to Spoonriver owner Brenda Langton’s considerable culinary legacy.
750 S. 2nd St., Mpls.
Opening: “Sometime in 2020,” said Birchwood owner Tracy Singleton
Yumi Japanese Restaurant + Bar
The popular Excelsior restaurant and sushi bar is under newish ownership, and Z&H Hospitality (Agra Culture, Sotarol, Yogurt Lab) is definitely placing its acquisition into expansion mode. The company is turning its attention to St. Paul’s restaurant-centric Cathedral Hill neighborhood, moving into the space that was the longtime home of Fabulous Fern’s.
400 Selby Av., St. Paul, yumisushibar.com
Opening: early February