Pizza and beer go together like Minnesota and soul-crushing winter.
Nate Ropes knows as much. He worked at Insight Brewing, where, as taproom manager, he booked food trucks. One he grew especially fond of: Blue Fire Pizza, a truck that makes the rounds at taprooms throughout the metro area.
So he tapped Blue Fire’s Aaron Hargrave to join him in opening a brick-and-mortar woodfire pizza joint inside “a central hub for Minnesota craft beer.”
Fire & Nice Alehouse is coming mid-April to 2700 Lyndale Av. S. in Minneapolis.
The address will be familiar to fine diners as the former home of the four-star Heyday, Jim Christiansen’s critically acclaimed restaurant that landed him on the cover of Food & Wine magazine — and closed last year. Before it was shuttered for good, Christiansen announced a plan to change up the concept and lean more casual. That never came to fruition.
Now, Ropes is taking the space in that direction.
“It’s a lot less of a foodie place, and I don’t mean that in a negative way,” he said. “It’s supposed to have the feel of a comfortable taproom with a food truck inside.”
The counter-service spot will have televisions and tabletop games where guests can while away the hours sampling Minnesota beers.
Thirty-two of them, to be exact. Ropes plans to showcase local beer on taps that will rotate among the 100 or so Minnesota breweries that can supply their beer.
“I look at it like a big beer jukebox,” he said. “There’s a beer for everybody.”
Non-beer drinkers will have Minnesota sodas, local kombucha and cold press to sample. There might be a few Minnesota wines, too, Ropes said.
Hargrave’s pizza is on the menu ($12-$20, depending on size), plus appetizers and desserts that also come out of the woodfire oven. A smoker might be in the restaurant’s future.
“We’re using as many local ingredients as we can, and we’ll go from there,” Ropes said.
Putting together pizza and beer is an obvious strategy, Ropes said. “It’s the ultimate classic combination.
“Our goal was combining those two things but increasing them, so it’s not just a frozen pizza and a can of Busch Light.”