When Seward Co-op launches its first restaurant in July, the operation is going to have a gifted chef at the helm.

Lucas Almendinger, who made a highly favorable impression at the Third Bird when it opened last year (find my review here) – and, prior to that, at Union Fish Market -- will be running the kitchen at Co-op Creamery Neighborhood Cafe.

“We’re very excited to have Lucas on board at the Co-op Creamery as we return the building to its original use,” said Chad Snelson, Co-op Creamery Production Manager, in a statement. “He has built an incredible portfolio of work across the Twin Cities and will bring a unique perspective and talent to the Seward neighborhood."

True to the co-op’s roots, Almendinger (pictured, above, in a Star Tribune file photo) will offer a menu that will feature locally raised ingredients. The bar will pour beer and wine. The brown-brick building -- a 95-year-old former dairy processing plant and a neighborhood landmark, located at 2601 E. Franklin Av. in Minneapolis, a few blocks west of the store -- will also house the store’s bakery and meat production facilities, as well as the co-op’s administrative offices. 

The 43-year-old member-owned co-op – which has more than 13,000 member/owners – is also in the midst of building a second full-service location. The second store, called the Seward Co-op “Friendship Store,” is set to open this fall at 38th St. and 3rd Av. S. in Minneapolis, on the site of the former Friendship Missionary Baptist Church.