If there’s a silver lining to yesterday’s fire, it’s this: while the incineration of Heidi’s and Blackbird was a monumentally depressing event, it was mercifully free of death or injury. We’re lucky on that front.
The loss of both restaurants is, however, deeply disappointing for anyone who loves local food. Both were relatively new restaurants. Both brought thoughtful, high-quality, creative, locally connected food to diners hailing from all over the Cities and beyond. It’s not for nothing that Stewart Woodman garnered a semifinalist nomination for a James Beard Award (ironically, on the same day his restaurant burned); it’s not for nothing that Blackbird has gained a local reputation for creative cuisine including the likes of upscale banh mis and duck confit and pomegranate pancakes.
While it’s too early to speculate as to how and whether both restaurants will make their recoveries, it’s not too early to commit, as a public, to cheering them on as they go. The length and nature of the recovery process is unknown, but all of us can — at this very moment — commit to following that process and helping when we can.
We know that the owners of Blackbird (Gail Mollner and Chris Stevens) and the Woodmans of Heidi’s are luminously talented and fiercely dedicated to their craft. They will be back on their feet soon. The last paragraph of the Star Tribune report on the fire notes that the restaurants’ chefs “left the building carrying their knives.” We hope, fervently, that they have a chance to put those knives back to work, and soon.