When St. Paul steakhouse Salt Cellar floundered after a little more than half a year at its Cathedral Hill location, neighbors and would-be patrons chirped up, expressing their desire for a more relaxed hangout.
Owners Joe Kasel and Kevin Geisen heard them loud and clear.
“I really commend them for listening to what their customers and what their neighbors were looking for and what they wanted for the restaurant,” March said. “[The building] still has the great charm that it had before, but we just opened it up to a more casual space.”
They did so, emphasizing a bar area that remained popular through the former restaurant’s struggles. The bar itself was doubled – it’s now a rectangular shape – and high top tables were added to maximize the space.
The back room, which previously felt distinct to the bar entry, was tweaked as well. The opening between the two areas was extended to about 14 feet, to result in a more natural flow across the restaurant. The team is adding a barn door between to create the ability to keep the space open or close it off for private events. And the lighting throughout was changed to provide for a more lively feel in both rooms.
“It just looks a lot more open,” March said. “I think it will be a place where families can come in and feel comfortable.”
Of course, it’s the menu that gets the biggest remake. While the former Salt Cellar, which shuttered in August of this year, served only dinner, this iteration will serve lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. Chef Graham Messenger – who comes to Fitzgerald’s from Ox Cart Ale House, another Kasel and Geisen venture – offers up a mix of starters, salads, soups, sandwiches, burgers and brats for lunch and includes a handful of pizzas and entrees at dinner, a notable change from Salt Cellar’s white tablecloth setting.
Fitzgerald’s will have a full bar with a small cocktail program, as well as a handful of wines by the bottle and by the glass, and about 30 beers on tap.
The changes were swift – construction began only six weeks ago – but March feels confident this presentation will find more success.
Fitzgerald’s is opening its doors for happy hour at 3 p.m. Wednesday after a ribbon cutting, and Mayor Chris Coleman will be guest bartending from 5 to 6.
“I grew up in the neighborhood and certainly am familiar with the neighborhood,” March said. “Everyone really believes in this location.
“It was a quick turn, but luckily we got a really good team in place from the last 15 years of being in the business.”