The Tap: An Open Letter to Publicists

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This week in the Tap: Some thoughts for food and restaurant publicists, and local restaurant openings and closings.

The Tap is the metro area’s comprehensive restaurant buzz roundup, so if you see a new or newly shuttered restaurant, or anything that’s “coming soon,” email Tap editor James Norton at

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table


The Heavy Table gets invited to a lot of media events. A typical week might involve 2-3 invites; some weeks it’s closer to 10. With few exceptions, we politely decline.

The not terribly subtle quid pro quo on these things is this: You show up, you drink free cocktails, you’re fed a (free) series of small plates (or a meal, or a splendid banquet), and then you gush about the food and atmosphere. With proper disclosure, the idea of larger media organizations going to these things bothers me not at all.

But it rarely serves our readers. It’s not representative of the kind of treatment and food they’ll enjoy at the place — while there may be some common threads, the two experiences often have little to do with one another. Moreover, we’re likely to be treading the same ground as other media organizations at the event.

And it also doesn’t serve the Heavy Table. We’re depriving our readers of legitimate editorial content, and (unlike sponsored content) we’re not earning any money that we could spend to generate other stories.

Brianna Stachowski / Heavy Table
Brianna Stachowski / Heavy Table

Sometimes we do say “yes.” We will sometimes go to these events when the medium is the message. The circuslike rollouts for vendors at stadiums or particularly flashy hotels, for example, might feature enough variety of food and enough entertaining subtext that the event itself makes for good coverage.

We also get invited, frequently, to eat a (scheduled, and monitored) meal on the house at some new hotspot and write about it. We don’t do this. If we’re going to do a proper review of a place, we’ll spend our own money. And if we’re going to do a chef profile or longer feature on a place, we’ll do it because we know the person and the place have a real story to tell, because of our own experiences and because of recommendations from people we trust.

Most of all, we would like for every publicist who pitches us to know the following: We have an eternal backlog of local, independent restaurants and chefs who we’d like to write about. Many of them lack the resources for a marketing campaign or professional PR. If we are going to divert editorial resources from those stories to your story, well — why does that make sense? But that’s your bar: Justify your client in the context of an ever-changing universe of food.

I’m not saying that we can’t be bought. Sponsored content and other advertising is available to anyone who wants to reach our readers, and we’ll use the money so obtained to pay writers, editors, designers, illustrators, and photographers to make a magazine. But we can’t be bought for a free meal.

A gym membership, though? Let’s talk. — James Norton


Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
  • Dumpling, 4004 Minnehaha Ave S, Minneapolis | Not to be confused with Mrs. Dumpling at Lyn-Lake. Some love for their food in the Hot Five.
  • Tullibee, 300 Washington Ave N, Minneapolis | Nordic fare from nationally known chef Grae Nonas at the Hewing hotel.
  • Punch Bowl Social, The Shops at West End, St. Louis Park
  • Tropicana, 2585 W 7th St., St. Paul | Potentially intriguing: Specially for Ethiopians and Eritreans you will feel like back home,” as per the Facebook page.
  • Scratch Burgers and Beer, 408 3rd Ave N, Minneapolis
  • Cafe Alma, 528 University Ave SE, Minneapolis | Drinks, snacks, and meals on the main floor of the new Hotel Alma, and next door the the newly reopened Restaurant Alma.
  • Sum Dem Korean Barbecue, 735 E 48th St, Minneapolis
WACSO / Heavy Table
WACSO / Heavy Table
  • Ha Tien Grocery (second location), 1959 Suburban Ave, St. Paul | One of our favorite stops on our Green Line Checklist has opened a second location.
  • McKinney Roe, 530 4th St S, Minneapolis | Contemporary American food by the owner of O’Donovan’s Irish Pub and Lola’s Lakehouse.
  • Blacklist Beer, 120 E Superior St, Duluth |  Taproom in the once notorious, now rehabbed former Last Place on Earth location.
  • Tori Ramen, 161 Victoria St N, St. Paul | Chicken-focused ramen shop in the former Lee and Dee’s.
  • Augustine’s Bar and Bakery, 1668 Selby Ave, St. Paul | Another spot from the owner of The Happy Gnome, with an odd bakery-bar hybrid thing going on.
Joe Krummel / Heavy Table
Joe Krummel / Heavy Table
  • Fitzgerald’s, 173 Western Ave N, St. Paul |Pub fare in a casual setting, replacing the Salt Cellar. A first look in our recent article.
  • Mercury Dining Room and Rail, 505 Marquette Ave S, Minneapolis | Scratch fare from the Blue Plate Restaurant Company in the old Brasserie Zentral space. Here’s our report on some of their cocktails.
  • Crisp and Green, 755 East Lake Street, Wayzata | Owned by restaurateur Ryan Burnet (Burch, Bar La Grassa); menu will feature salads and grain bowls. A North Loop location will open next spring in the former Sapor space.


  • Mr. Robert’s Resort | Restaurant opened near Hibbing by Sarah Master.
  • Heartland (closing Dec. 31)

    Natalie Champa Jennings / Heavy Table
    Natalie Champa Jennings / Heavy Table
  • Harriet Brewing (closed end of November, not January 2017 as planned)
  • Krungthep Thai | Our review.
  • Rachel’s (rebooting as a new concept with same owner in early 2017)
Sarah McGee / Heavy Table
Sarah McGee / Heavy Table
  • Mai Village



Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
  • Five Watt (Roastery and Cafe), 2904 Harriet Ave S, Minneapolis | 2016 | Former Uptown Imports location.
  • Mrs. Dumpling, 700 W Lake St, Minneapolis | Early 2017 | Not to be confused with Dumpling in Longfellow.
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
  • 510 Lounge & Private Dining, 510 Groveland Ave, Minneapolis | Summer 2017 | Private event space and open-to-the-public lounge run by Chef Don Saunders (The Kenwood).
  • Bad Waitress (second location), 700 Central Ave NE | Early 2017
  • Rustica Cookies & Creamery at the Mall of America | Winter
    Esker Grove, Walker Art Center | December | A Doug Flicker / Culinaire project is the latest crack at a dining solution for the finicky Walker space.
  • Barbecue Joint Name TBA, 816 Lowry Ave NE, Minneapolis | 2017 | A Kansas-City-style barbecue place “with no chairs and tables” opened by some combination of the Travail team.
  • Red Rabbit, 201 Washington Ave N, Minneapolis | Winter | Red Cow owner Luke Shimp’s new spot will offer “a variety of dishes including handcrafted pizzas, oysters, pasta, fresh salads and more.”
  • Kaiseki Furukawa, 30 1st St N, Minneapolis | January 2017 | Classic kaiseki (progressive small courses) dining. We can’t wait.
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
  • Brut, Location TBD | 2017? | With all the culinary firepower of Erik Anderson (above) and Jamie Malone, Brut promises exciting things, but the lead-up has been disturbingly long. And now Jamie Malone is cooking at Grand Cafe, so there’s that.
  • Crisp and Green, 428 Washington Ave N, Minneapolis (former Sapor space) | Spring 2017 | Owned by restaurateur Ryan Burnet (Burch, Bar La Grassa); menu will feature salads and grain bowls. A Wayzata location, at 755 E Lake St, just opened.
  • Utepils (formerly Bryn Mawr) Brewing, 225 Thomas Ave N, Minneapolis | Winter

St. Paul

  • Barrel Theory Beer Company, 248 E 7th St, St. Paul | Early 2017 | As per the Growler: “A partnership between Surly Brewing Company’s former director of technology Brett Splinter, former Surly brewer Timmy Johnson, and CPA Todd Tibesar.”
  • Brunson’s, 956 Payne Ave, St Paul | Early 2017
  • Pajarito, 605 W. 7th St., St. Paul | December | Via Dara: Being opened by Tim McKee acolytes “Tyge Nelson and Stephan Hesse, most recently of Chino Latino and Libertine, respectively.”
  • J Selby’s, 169 Victoria St N, St. Paul | “hoping to open by January 2017” | Vegan restaurant that prefers to call itself “plant-based.”
  • Keg and Case revitalization of the Schmidt Brewery, 928 W 7th St, St. Paul | Summer 2017 | Featuring restaurants by the teams behind Corner Table, Hola Arepa, and Five Watt.
  • Revival, 525 Selby Ave, St. Paul (former Cheeky Monkey space) | Winter? | A second location for the popular fried chicken spinoff of Corner Table. The original location will also be expanding and offering takeout.
  • Babani’s (second location), Wabasha St S | 2017 | A second location for the country’s oldest Kurdish restaurant.
  • Bottle Rocket, 1806 St. Clair Ave, St. Paul | 2016 | A reboot by the Blue Plate Restaurant Company of the former Scusi space with craft cocktails. Now hiring, which means open doors may be imminent.
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table
  • 11 Wells Millwright Cocktail Room, Historic Hamm’s Brewery, St. Paul | 2016 | From the website: “We’ll have a full fledged cocktail room as well as a restaurant so come hungry and thirsty.”

Greater Twin Cities Area and Beyond

  • 1.2.3. Pasta, 6508 Cahill Ave, Inver Grove Heights | Delayed by parking and permitting issues.
  • Baja Haus, 830 E Lake St, Wayzata | January 2017 | A second restaurant by Billy Tserenbat of Sushi Fix, focused on Mexican seafood and scratch margaritas.
  • Second Gavin Kaysen Restaurant Name TBA, 739 E Lake Street, Wayzata (former Blue Point Location) | 2016 | A second restaurant for the much-heralded chef owner of Spoon and Stable. This one will be a French brasserie style as per Rick Nelson.
  • Oakhold Farmhouse Brewery (formerly Oude Oak) Midway Township | 2016 | Construction has started for this new sour beer-only brewery planned for just south of Duluth.

The Tap is the Heavy Table’s guide to area restaurant openings, closings, and other major events. The Tap is compiled and published biweekly by the Heavy Table. If you have tips for The Tap, please email James Norton at