This week in the Tap: Tori Ramen comes to Kickstarter, plus a look at the Twin Cities restaurant scene’s notable 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tori Ramen on Kickstarter
Jason Dorweiler, former chef and general manager at the United Noodles Unideli, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to open a pork-free, poultry-focused, bricks-and-mortar ramen shop called Tori Ramen. Why does this matter?
- Ramen’s blowing up. Ramen Kazama put the exclamation point on a local trend that has been revving up to white-hot intensity with contributions from spots including Zen Box, Domo Gastro, Masu, Obento-ya, Tanpopo, and even Spoon and Stable. The interest in quality broth plus noodles is exceedingly high, as anyone who has tried to get a table at Ramen Kazama can attest to.
- Unideli is a real player in the ramen space. As befits a restaurant that’s supported by a store with “noodles” in the title, Unideli takes ramen seriously and has some passionate fans. It stands to reason that Dorweiler has learned a thing or three, and that Tori Ramen can bring the thunder.
- Minneapolis is migrating toward a specialty approach to restaurants. No longer does every restaurant have to be all things to all people — short menus are increasingly recognized as showing dedication to purpose and a sense of focus, not a lack of hospitality or competence. From hot dogs to doughnuts to sandwiches, restaurants are defining themselves more deliberately.
As with any Kickstarter campaign, the idea is 50 percent of the struggle. The other 50 percent is the sales pitch. Dorweiler is taking a risky approach in a few regards: first, excluding pork from the shop may alienate pork belly and pork-based-broth fanatics, but it may also energize diners who would be ramen fanatics if only there were a pork-free option available.
Second, the value prospect for Kickstarter donors is questionable — $25 is a lot to splash out for a single bowl of noodles, and skeptics will hang back and just pay menu price once the doors open. [EDITOR’S NOTE: After we posted this story, Dorweiler amended the campaign’s rewards structure. A bowl of ramen reward is now obtainable for a $10 pledge.] Finally, the $43K goal is challenging. It’s not unattainable — but as the limited success of the recent Heirloom campaign attests ($5K raised out of a $50K goal), raising such a sum for a new restaurant is a substantial hurdle.
Those of us who dig the bowls of broth will certainly be rooting for the campaign’s success.
— James Norton
- The Draft Horse, 1401 Marshall St NE, Minneapolis | New restaurant at the Food Building featuring food made from products from The Lone Grazer Creamery and Red Table Meat Co., along with grab & go sandwiches on Patisserie 46 baguettes, salads, and soup. Read our Bite here.
- Taco Cat, Midtown Global Market | The cult favorite, bike-delivered taco place has become a bricks-and-mortar affair, replacing the former Burrito Mercado spot in Midtown Global Market.
- Nutmeg Brewhouse, 1905 W County Road 42, Burnsville | “A brewpub that explores the former British Empire from a culinary point of view,” as per the Growler.
- Upton43, 4312 Upton Ave S, Minneapolis | This spot, by Victory 44’s Erick Harcey, is a chance for the much lauded chef to bounce back from the bust-up of Stock and Badge and rollup of the ambitious but shaky Parka.
- Heirloom, 2186 Marshall Ave, St. Paul | W.A. Frost chef Wyatt Evans hopes to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors (such as Russell Klein and Lenny Russo) and found a new St. Paul gastronomic institution. “Modern but … approachable … slow food” sounds pretty good to us (quotes from the Pioneer Press preview).
- Scena Tavern, 2943 Girard Ave S, Minneapolis
- Savory Bake House, 3008 36th Ave S, Minneapolis | Located across the street from Merlin’s Rest, “Savory is a new twist on the old school rustic bakery everyone knows and loves,” or so says their Facebook page. Baker is Sandra Sherva from Merlin’s Rest and formerly of Birchwood.
- Saint Genevieve, 5003 Bryant Ave, Minneapolis | This Steven-Brown-helmed restaurant has begun to dish up approachable French fare.
- ie, 4724 Cedar Ave, Minneapolis | AKA “Italian Eatery.” Scratch pastas, with an eye toward the style of Bar La Grassa.
- Bluefox Indian Bar & Grill, 5377 W 16th St, St. Louis Park | South Indian bar and restaurant with a full bar and craft drink program, utilizing Dan Oskey of Tattersall Distilling as a consultant.
- SSSDUDE-NUTZ, 317 14th Ave SE, Minneapolis | Crazy new-school doughnut shop in Dinkytown opened by a couple of recent U of M grads.
- The Sheridan Room 337 13th Ave NE, Minneapolis | Some details via Minneapolis St. Paul. Business Journal.
- Domo Gastro, 1032 3rd Ave NE, Minneapolis | An Asian-inspired gastro pub — shows some real promise. Looking forward to trying the Korean-style fried chicken in particular. Read our review here.
CLOSED / CLOSING:
- The Blue Nile | After a long decline, this institution has shut its doors.
- Vincent, A Restaurant | A triumphant run by a classic restaurant.
- Franklin Street Bakery (closing retail operations to concentrate on wholesale)
- Nye’s Polonaise Room (closing early 2016) | This trolltastic City Pages column nonetheless does a good job of expressing some of the ambiguity about the passing of the nationally known and locally legendary Nye’s.
- Milkjam Creamery at World Street Kitchen, 2743 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis | Early 2016 | A gourmet ice cream shop by Sameh and Saed Wadi, the brothers behind World Street Kitchen and Saffron. They’re now hiring.
- Shake Shack | Early 2016 | A local outpost of the cult-favorite better-burger chain will open at the Mall of America.
- Modist Brewing Company, 505 N 3rd St, Minneapolis | Early 2016
- Polpo | Early 2016 | In the former La Mac Cleaners space, run by David Hahne, the former chef of the excellent Cave Vin.
- Cafe Alma, 530 University Ave SE, Minneapolis | Early 2016 | Hailed by the Star Tribune as this year’s Best Upcoming Project and a “casual breakfast-to-late night cafe, coffee bar, wine bar and bakery.”
- Blue Door Pub, 1514 Como Ave, Minneapolis | January 2016
- Inbound Brewco, 701 5th St N, Minneapolis | Early 2016
- The Viking Bar, 1829 Riverside Ave, Minneapolis | Early 2016 | After nearly a decade of closure, this Cedar-Riverside saloon is on its way to reopening.
- Brut, 428 Washington Ave N, Minneapolis | 2016 | With all the culinary firepower of Erik Anderson (above) and Jamie Malone, Brut promises exciting things. It’s going into the old Sapor space on Washington Avenue.
- Lawless Distilling, 2619 28th Ave S, Minneapolis | Early 2016
- Bonicelli Kitchen, 1901 Fillmore St NE, Minneapolis | ??? | A catering business that raised Kickstarter money to make the jump to bricks-and-mortar and may not be making the jump to bricks and mortar.
- Twin Spirits Distillery, 2931 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis | Early 2016
- Q Fanatic, 6009 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis | January 2016 (second location) | Although the local BBQ scene is mighty weak, we do think Q Fanatic does a good job at serving up serious Q. This new location, along with the recently launched truck Bark and the Bite, suggests that there’s hope for us yet.
- DiNoko’s Pizzeria, 4457 42nd Ave S, Minneapolis | Early 2016 | DiNoko’s is a local place that can do deep dish pizza seriously well. Their move from Nokomis to downtown Minneapolis didn’t work out; here’s hoping that their return foray to South Minneapolis does.
- Utepils (formerly Bryn Mawr) Brewing, 225 Thomas Ave N, Minneapolis | Early 2016
- Hi-Lo Diner, 4020 E Lake St, Minneapolis | Early 2016 | Seward and Longfellow are really jumping onto the breakfast train after years of struggling to get by with nothing more than the overpriced Longfellow Grill and the inedible Denny’s; Mon Petit Chéri seems to be doing well, and the new Co-op Creamery Cafe will be a serious breakfast presence as well. Hi-Lo is getting in as the neighborhoods heat up. Here’s the press release and a photo of a crane lifting the diner into place.
- Urban Forage Winery and Cider House, 3016 E Lake St, Minneapolis | Early 2016 | We profiled these guys when they were mounting their (successful) Kickstarter campaign, and they have a fascinating take on how to do earthy, grassroots local wine and cider.
- The Herbivorous Butcher, 507 1st Ave NE, Minneapolis | Jan. 23, 2016 | These guys have gotten serious national press and look poised to become a force in the food scene once their bricks-and-mortar spot is up and running. We like what Pizza Nea did with their product.
- Pizzeria Lola concept TBD, 165 13th Ave NE, Minneapolis | Unknown
- The Bachelor Farmer Cafe project to be named, 200 N 1st St, Minneapolis | January 2016
- Red Lantern Sushi, 465 Wabasha Ave, St. Paul | Early 2016 | A new branch of the White-Bear-Lake-based sushi restaurant is opening in the old Fuji-Ya space in St. Paul.
- Handsome Hog, 225 E 6th St, St. Paul | Early spring 2016 | Former Brasserie Zentral and Meritage chef Justin Sutherland will be cooking contemporary Southern food with a high-end twist.
- Mucci’s, 786 Randolph Ave, St. Paul | Early spring 2016 | A new old-school Italian-American place from Tim Niver, owner of Strip Club Meat and Fish and Saint Dinette.
- Parco 400, 400 N Sibley St, St. Paul | Late spring 2016 | A new Italian restaurant opening in the old Trattoria Da Vinci spot in Lowertown, the culinary side to be headed up by Troy Unruh, formerly of New York City’s well-known Del Posto.
- World of Beer, 356 N Sibley St, St. Paul | 2016 | Part of a chain including locations in Wauwatosa and Appleton, Wis., and Naperville, Ill.
- 11 Wells Millwright Cocktail Room, Historic Hamm Building, St. Paul | Early 2016 | A restaurant aspect to the space is rumored to be under consideration.
- The Lexington (new ownership), 1096 Grand Ave, St. Paul | 2016 | It’ll be interesting to see how the ambitious team behind this revamp and relaunch tackles the task. Between its facade, its location, and its glorious but stuffy, old-school feel, we’ll find it tough to sort the baby from the bathwater on this one. Construction is in progress.
Greater Twin Cities Area and Beyond
- Oude Oak, Midway Township | Spring 2016 | A new sour beer-only brewery planned for just south of Duluth.
- Barley and Vine, 17516 Dodd Blvd., Lakeville, MN | Late January 2016 | “Foodie casual” with “eclectic beer and wine selections,” as per their press release.
- St. Croix Brewing Company, 114 Chestnut St E, Stillwater | 2016
- Angry Inch Brewing, 20841 Holyoke Ave, Lakeville | 2016
- Wicked Wort Brewing Co., 4175 W Broadway, Robbinsdale | Winter 2016
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 email@example.com.