Now Open (Or Damn Close) profiles Blue Plate Restaurant Company’s latest neighborhood joint.
By Brian Kaufenberg
For Stephanie Shimp, co-owner of Blue Plate Restaurant Company, breakfast is a “humble meal” that brings people together in a communal way the other meals do not. Perhaps it’s her view of breakfast as “the underdog” that the morning meal is prominently featured on the menus of Highland Grill, Edina Grill, The Lowry, and the company’s newest restaurant, The Freehouse, located in the North Loop of Minneapolis.
The Freehouse was a unique venture for the veteran restaurateurs, David Burley and Shimp, as it’s not only a restaurant, but also a fully functioning brewpub. The idea for the brewpub came at Rock the Garden in 2012 when—over drinks—a friend suggested it was the perfect opportunity for their next restaurant. “Most great ideas are conceived over cocktails… or in the shower,” Shimp joked.
Soon Burley traveled west to visit over 40 breweries in Oregon, while Shimp traveled to research breweries on the East Coast. They decided they wanted their beer to be true to style and pair well with food, but not “smack you in the face,” said Shimp. They began searching for a head brewer to run the brewery operations and found Tim “Pio” Piotrowski.
Pio is a brewing journeyman who began his career with Oskar Blues in Colorado after an apprenticeship through the American Brewer’s Guild. He moved from the large-scale production brewery to Walnut Brewery, Boulder’s first brewpub, a move that was gratifying for Pio. “I like that in a brewpub you get to do everything—that you have to do everything,” he explained. “I really enjoy the process—the smells, the work.”
He went on to brew at Denver’s ChopHouse & Brewery and most recently Rock Bottom Brewery in Minneapolis. Now, he is running The Freehouse’s 15 bbl brewhouse producing four flagship offerings, all of which are approachable examples of classic styles. Order an IPA, Brown Ale, Stout, or a Kölsch and pair the beer with food made from spent brewing grains.
The Brewer: Tim “Pio” Piotrowski
The Beers: IPA, Brown Ale, Stout, Kölsch, and Rotating Selection
Visit: 701 N. Washington Ave., Ste 101, Minneapolis, MN 55401
Hours: Mon–Sun 6:30am–2:00am