The Lakeside eatery is set to return to St. Paul’s Como Park this spring with a remodeled pavilion restaurant and music venue in early May.
According to owner Jon Oulman, the restaurant, carrying the new name Como Dockside, will aim to bring back a natural aesthetic and sense of community to the space on Como Lake, which has been a popular gathering spot for over a century.
St. Paul city officials sought a new vendor for the Como Lakeside Pavilion after a messy lease dispute with the site’s former operator, which ended when the city paid an $800,000 settlement last summer.
Oulman owns the Amsterdam Bar and Hall in St. Paul and the 331 Club in Minneapolis and has run art galleries and a beauty shop. He said he and his son were looking for something new to do at a St. Paul park when the city started its search.
His son and business partner, Jarret Oulman, said they hope their project can create a community hub.
“I think St. Paul in general is thirsty for these cultural institutions to sort of be there to house and develop communities [and] artists,” he said. “And I just love playing a role in that.”
When the pavilion reopens the first week of May, it may whet appetites with a New Orleans picnic menu.
With residential areas to the south and east and boasting a golf course, conservatory and zoo, Como Park draws about 4.5 million people each year, according to a Metropolitan Council ranking of regional parks.
“Everybody tells stories about memories of going there as kids, going there with their families, hanging out with their friends and loved ones,” Jon Oulman said. “It has a really rich and deep history.”
He said he hopes to rekindle the neighborhood staple, which features a third-floor banquet room, a 16,000-square-foot promenade and space for music performances. For the last, he said the venue will not only continue to feature its regular fare, but also attract newcomers with an increased variety of entertainment.
Plans are also in the works to build new docks, Oulman said, hosting paddleboats, canoes, kayaks and a 30-foot dining boat for a picnic on the water.
Como Dockside will open at 8 a.m. for coffee and a light breakfast each day and stay open until 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and until midnight on Friday and Saturday.