The Grand Cafe, a longtime restaurant in south Minneapolis’ Kingfield neighborhood, has ended its second chapter.
Established in 2006 at the corner of 38th and Grand by Dan and Mary Hunter, the Grand Cafe was reborn in 2017 under the tutelage of chef Jamie Malone. Malone and her team quickly won national praise for the kitchen’s whimsical approach to Parisian classics — including a Paris-Brest pastry filled with chicken liver mousse that landed on the cover of Food and Wine magazine when the Grand Cafe was named a 2018 Restaurant of the Year.
Malone’s version of the Grand Cafe served its last dinner Nov. 14. A statement released by the building owners noted that “the changing landscape for fine dining in the Twin Cities followed by the pandemic” has proved a challenging situation for many local restaurants.
Malone told the Star Tribune that the pandemic “created opportunities to rethink and reimagine restaurants, take stock of what works and what doesn’t. There are so many things that have been status quo in the past, that just didn’t serve the business or its employees well. Now is our chance to do that and create a better world for restaurant workers.”
Throughout the pandemic, the Grand Cafe had been selling large and luxurious meal kits.
The restaurant had only recently reopened for limited-seated dinners and ticketed events.
Malone says the meal kits will continue to be offered from her downtown Minneapolis restaurant, Eastside.
“We will, as we have been for the last eight months, be operating as Grand Café at Home, creating our meal kits and other take-home experiences,” she said. “We use our second restaurant Eastside as a ghost kitchen, because it is a large space and allows us to cook and package in a safe and spread-out manner.”
The Hunters, the building’s owners, are looking for a new tenant or buyer for the 5,700-square-foot space, built in 1926, at 3804 Grand Av. Before the Hunters first opened the Grand Cafe, the address was home to several food businesses, including the Grand Bakery and the Bakery on Grand. The Hunters served classic French country fare for 10 years before leasing the space to Malone for the Grand Cafe’s new iteration.
“We’ve been happy to be stewards of this special building in such a great neighborhood, and we know that on the other side of this challenging time, there will be yet a new place where people will gather once again,” said Mary Hunter. “Like many older buildings, this one has both a history and an ongoing story. Those don’t end now; we just don’t yet know what the next iteration will be — this place has such a simple beauty and old-world charm; it’s such a great canvas to work with.”
Both Malone and her version of the Grand Cafe were nominated for James Beard Awards. Food & Wine said Malone created “the Francophile fever dream she knew her hometown deserved.”
The Star Tribune gave the restaurant 3½ stars. “One of the traits that makes Malone’s confident work so compelling is her obvious curiosity for quirky — and superior — ingredients, a passion that reaps untold benefits at the table,” the Star Tribune’s Rick Nelson wrote.
“Malone is cooking like no one else in the Twin Cities.”