St. Paul's historic Union Depot is getting a new tenant — one Ramsey County officials hope will encourage locals to stop by for a bite and visitors to grab a meal before hopping on the train.
The Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority will vote Tuesday on a five-year contract with Kaskaid Hospitality, which owns several restaurants around the metro area, including the Crave restaurants and the Union Bar and Grill in Minneapolis. The new restaurant in Union Depot will share the Union Bar and Grill name and a similar menu, said Jean Krueger, Ramsey County real estate asset manager.
Kaskaid will cater events at Union Depot, provide takeout food and drinks for travelers, and offer indoor dining space and outdoor seating on the depot's north plaza, said Deborah Carter McCoy, spokeswoman for the Railroad Authority.
"There has been a lot of interest in having a wider range of service here," Carter McCoy said. "It will be a very nice added amenity."
County officials have been working to expand services at Union Depot after the $243 million renovation of the station, completed in 2012. However, the addition of Union Bar and Grill — which will replace Christos Greek Restaurant — will require additional work on the building.
The previous redo did not touch the kitchen or mezzanine at Union Depot, Krueger said, and the Railroad Authority will pay to update those areas. The construction and addition of furniture and fixtures could cost between $850,000 and $1 million, she said — though, with the historic building, that estimate may change. "It's a little bit of a mystery until you start doing the demo," she said.
County officials said they are optimistic that the restaurant will open in early 2017.
Ramsey County originally was searching for a company that would keep food operations going from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. But with the addition of a Java Express, Krueger said they decided to allow Union Bar and Grill to open later so the two do not compete for business in the morning.
"They will definitely be open for lunch and dinner," she said, and eventually could add breakfast.