Hell’s Kitchen Duluth Chills Out?

We’ve gotten word that on Jan. 1, 2010, Hell’s Kitchen in Duluth will close, with an approximate reopen date of Jan. 15-20. A menu change may mean the end of breakfast service, and a new focus on a hamburger and hot dog-focused lunch.


  1. Kris

    That’s too bad. Hell’s Kitchen is our go to place for breakfast when we’re in Duluth. Last time we were up there we tried another place, just to shake things up, and it was not good.

  2. geoff roether

    haven’t been up there since they opened. i hope they didn’t sink too much into the infrastructure, because I love the DT MPLS HK and I’d hate to think that a Duluth expansion could cause them cash issues @ their core business.

  3. Chef's Wife

    Perhaps it’s because of the aloof, hipper-than-thou door staff that won’t seat you when there are open tables. Yeah, that could hurt the numbers when folks choose to leave instead.

  4. morchella

    I had the same thing happen but they explained it was more of a staffing issue (capacity of servers and kitchen) than whether or not there was an open table (that is, once you’re seated you expect your food in a certain period of time.) Anyway, I’m not in the food biz so I don’t know if it’s valid- but it sorta makes sense.

    The door staff is hipper than me, though. They just are.


  5. morchella

    I had the same thing happen as Chef’s Wife but they explained it was more of a staffing issue (capacity of servers and kitchen) than whether or not there was an open table (that is, once you’re seated you expect your food in a certain period of time.) Anyway, I’m not in the food biz so I don’t know if it’s valid- but it sorta makes sense.

    The door staff is hipper than me, though. They just are.


  6. Restaurant veteran

    Knowing the mpls. venue and the restaurant economy I give them props for making an apparent pre-emptive strike on there business with the hope (and dedicated plan…they are pro’s there)they will make the adjustment needed to continue strong. (that being said, locals will no doubt miss the unique breakfast items that made them famous.

  7. Cynthia Gerdes

    As one of the founders of Hell’s Kitchen, I can confirm that yes indeed we are changing our Duluth concept in January. The good news was that we were busier than hell all summer long…the bad news was that the Duluth locals, weathering one of the weakest economic downturns in the state, are hanging by their fingernails at the very same time our wholesale prices continue to rise. We could make it as is, but decided to give Duluth a bang for their buck with something new that our entire staff is wildly excited about.
    Stay tuned…and next time you run into a snotty host at the front door, dammit, I want you to send me a personal email (cyn@visi.com) because that attitude stuff just drives us up the wall. We try SO hard; it breaks our hearts to hear stuff like that. Bye! Thanks for listening! Duluth will rock hard!

  8. Cynthia Gerdes

    Hell’s Kitchen (Duluth only) last day will be Sunday Jan 3.
    HellBurgers will take over and open mid-January with
    Burgers, Fries, Wings, Chili, Brats, Beer, Cocktails, and Spiked Shakes. (We’ll also be keeping our Best of the Best sandwiches such as the Walleye BLT, but sadly say bye bye to breakfast.)
    Colorful, casual, and chef-owned, this will be Duluth’s newest spot for damn good burgers at a decent price….and Canal Park’s only spot for free live music every Saturday night. Family friendly and cheeky fun.
    LAST CHANCE BONUS! Come to Hell’s Kitchen Duluth during our last month of December and get a FREE HellBurgers $5 GIFT CARD with any purchase of $10 or more.

  9. ryanl

    Good luck, hopefully “bang for your buck” doesn’t translate into a $11 dollar bacon cheeseburger like at the new gold nugget.

  10. Cynthia Gerdes

    Ain’t gonna happen….i think Duluth will be pleasantly surprised Rattle those beads for us and spread the word if you can. We’ll let you know when the website’s ready with the new menu via HeavyTable if they’ll allow us

  11. Restaurant veteran

    Thanks for the update, Cynthia, tell Steve an old P.P. ex-patriot say’s, Hey!

  12. geoff roether

    If they really want to do their due dilligence, the good folks @ HK will roadtrip to the outskirts of Chicago for meals @ Kuma’s Corner and Hot Doug’s, as they’re setting the high bar for crazy-indie hotdog and burger joints.

  13. Mark


    Thanks for weighing in. Will Hellburgers still have the retail stuff for sale (the Peanut Butter, Ketchup etc.?)

  14. Sarah

    Really? “Duluth locals are hanging on by their finger nails”? Really??? I mean, I’m a local and yeah, it’s a tough time, but that’s not what’s keeping me from going to HK.

    As a local, I avoid Canal Park like the plague in the summer and come non-tourist season, I’ll consider it but there’s little to motivate me with that staff. Seems like the HK “brand” was built around breakfast which I agree is fan-freakin’-tastic. But how often do locals go out breakfast during the week? And… we avoid Canal Park on the weekends too given the city’s attraction for conventions, hockey tourneys, etc that fill up the hotels and establishments. Seems like blaming the locals for not coming maybe is not the issue. Maybe a little market research and getting to know the community would have been helpful. Living on your yacht in a marina a few days a week is not getting to know the locals.

    I’m all for new biz, especially indie restaurants in this town. I regularly visit Tak for Matten, Chester Creek Cafe, and Burrito
    Union. None of those places are in Canal Park. And when I do venture down there to support the local business, I prefer to spend my hard earned money at places that give me a much better experience… such as Northern Lights Smokehouse and Lake Ave Cafe. The Duluthians that are hanging on by their fingernails were never your customers. Those who are still firmly planted can only be wooed by good huevos for so many visits until they get fed up with the ‘tude. And Burgers… an even less compelling reason for me to come.

  15. Cynthia Gerdes

    Sarah, good food for thought and trust us, we’re listening. A few clarifications:
    Yes we did extensive research, both with regulars, infrequent customers, and those who have never been there. “Hanging by their fingernails” was a term that some regular customers used when describing not their personal financial status, but how they felt when describing the Duluth economy. Getting to know the community: co-owner Mark Anderson has lived in Duluth for over 3 decades. Yacht i wish…it’s a 1965 boat in such bad condition that it was officially condemmed 3 years ago and has been drydocked ever since.
    But speaking of condemmed, my heart broke when I read your note. Please email me directly cyn@visi.com and tell me more because I personally abhor “holier than thou” attitudes anywhere, let alone our place…and really, sincerely, would like to know more about what makes you so disappointed in us.

  16. CK


    1. I find it odd that you didn’t know about the attitude your staff had when I had personally emailed HK about it prior. Also, if you read any reviews of HK, you can pretty easily pick up on the fact that HK had pretty terrible service. Try looking at Trip Advisor.

    2. Ryanl above stated he hoped it wasn’t $11 for a bacon cheeseburger & you replied “ain’t going to happen”. According to your new webiste, http://www.hellburgers.com:
    Single HellBurger 1/3 lb. $4.95
    Add Cheese: American $1
    Add Other Junk: Thick-sliced Bacon (2 pc) $2.50
    (Extra cost as well for onions, lettuce, etc.)
    Hand cut Fries $1.95
    Total = $10.40

    3. Mark above asks: “Will Hellburgers still have the retail stuff for sale (the Peanut Butter, Ketchup etc.?)”. You did not answer. I would like to know the answer as well.

    4. As a vegetarian I will have to pay an extra $1.50 for a veggie burger. Will these be made at your restaurant or are they just the frozen kind?

  17. Cynthia Gerdes

    Hey CK thanks for writing…
    1. I’m curious who you wrote to because we personally respond to each and every email…have done so since we opened in 2002, so I’m not sure where you sent one.
    2. Actually, it’s only $8.35 for a hand-pattied ground chuck burger (a higher quality of meat from the chuck roast rather than ground sirloin), plus thick-sliced applewood-cured bacon, a thick slab of cheese (not the usual kraft-type slice), pickle and kettle chips.
    3. The Peanut Butter, Toasted Sausage Bread and Damn Good Food cookbook are still available at the front desk. The rest are available via our website except for refrigerated items which we cannot ship.
    4. Our veggie burger is flash-frozen to keep the correct consistency and won hands-down in customer taste tests over the 17 other varieties. We’ve already gotten great comments from some serious vegetarians I’d be happy to share.
    5. From the one week we’ve been open, it looks as if this was the right move…happy people, good service (whew!), food flying out of the kitchen and prices just right according to the hundreds of comment cards already received.
    Thanks, CK…and actually, thanks to EVERYONE for your support!

  18. morchella

    Was in DH last weekend and had a GREAT Walleye BLT @ Hellburger– huge portion of crispy, sweet & juicy walleye but I think it’s the ‘special sauce’ that kicked it over the top.

    But I must say the best thing was the massive Wii which covers the entire back wall.

  19. Gail

    Happened to be in Duluth for business and so looked forward to having lunch at Hell’s Kitchen. Must say that although the Walleye Chowder was delicious, the Greek Salad was a bit disappointing. I sincerely miss the former fabulous menu and ambience of the “Kitchen.” When possible, please resurrect Hell’s Kitchen!!

  20. JoAnne

    I was delighted this summer to bring my boyfriend to Duluth where I would enjoy the spoils of great food, friendly service and amazing ambience. To my disappointment Hell’s Kitchen was closed…..say it ain’t so. Truly it was a rarity to have an ‘uptown’ atmosphere on the northshore. I miss this kinda of dining usually found only in the cities. Boo to being closed.

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