The Mill: Kale Thome has big plans for a little barbecue joint

Ribs from Minnesota Barbecue Co., Kale Thome's new restaurant project // Photo via Minnesota Barbecue Co.'s Facebook

Ribs from Minnesota Barbecue Co., Kale Thome’s new restaurant project // Photo via Minnesota Barbecue Co.’s Facebook

Minnesota Barbecue Co. is the next big thing to hit Northeast Minneapolis, in a space no larger than 800 square feet. Kale Thome, Minnesota Barbecue’s founder and former executive chef at Travail, is leading the way, with a take-out-only concept that is virtually opposite of his last venture. He says that after spending so much time in fine dining, this is a way for him to get back to the basics.

“My brain’s just becoming more simple. I still like eating like that [fine dining], I still like cooking like that once in awhile, but with the ways that I’ve been cooking and eating, I’ve just been unconsciously seeking out foods like this, whether it be ethnic, or simple, regional food. It’s just kind of what I’ve been more interested in lately.”

With Minnesota Barbecue, Thome is hoping to start simple, while utilizing ingredients unique to the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

“The name implies that we wanna do something that’s not Texas or North Carolina or Kansas City or anything like that, but actually kind of define what Minnesota barbecue is, and what that style means,” he says. “I don’t think it’s going to pan out to be this big, elaborate style of barbecue at all. It’s all pretty relative and pretty similar, but just using what Minnesota has to offer, the agriculture that’s here. What people are interested in is what’s going to define it.”

Kale Thome holds a barbecue brisket // Photo via Minnesota BBQ Co. Facebook

Kale Thome holds a barbecue brisket // Photo via Minnesota Barbecue Co. Facebook

Thome says his main focus is making sure his barbecue is served as fresh from the smoker as possible, which is a challenge for every barbecue chef. The style lends itself to cooking up vast amounts of meat on a daily basis, but determining how much is needed often becomes a guessing game.

“I joke that fresh barbecue is like crack, but truly if you’ve ever had fresh barbecue that is off the smoker and rested—oh, my God, it’s like nothing else.”

Minnesota Barbecue is currently on track to open in May, just in time for Art-A-Whirl. Thome still plans to use the smoker trailer he’s brought to various breweries and pop-ups. But right now he’s just focused on getting the barbecue just right.

“As I get older, it’s kind of more going back into the roots in the original direction,” he says. “Finding a singular craft and trying to hone that in.”


The Egyptian city of Tell Edfu, where archeologists recently discovered signs of a beer brewing set-up and site // Photo via the University of Chicago press release from January 2018

The Egyptian city of Tell Edfu, where archeologists said they discovered signs of a beer brewing site and facility // Photo via the University of Chicago press release from January 2018

Archaeologists in Egypt made a discovery dating back to some very early beer-drinkers. Structures believed to be beer-making facilities were excavated, including two large mud brick buildings surrounded by workshops and vast courtyards. The discovery of special storage containers and other artifacts suggest that the facilities were used to brew beer and make bread.

After a year and a half of planning and construction on a brewhouse outside Duluth, the founders of Oakhold Farmhouse Brewery have officially called it quits. Co-founder Levi Loesch made the announcement in a Facebook post, saying, “As some of you already know, sadly, Oakhold will not become a reality. The worst part of it all is having to share the disappointment with everyone who has wished us well and provided advice, emotional support and helping hands along the way. I have immense gratitude and owe a huge debt to all of you. Though it’s not the outcome anyone hoped for, having the opportunity to learn so much and the fortune to meet many awesome people makes it hurt a little less. Things get a little better every day.”

A British-inspired spirits project named Royal Foundry Craft Spirits is coming to Minneapolis, just a few blocks from the Minneapolis Farmers Market. The location has plans for a 70-meter cycle racetrack that will host local and semi-pro cycling competitions. The site will house what Royal Foundry says will be the state’s largest craft cocktail room, with the entire distillery encompassing 15,000 square feet, including a 2,500-square-foot event space.

Fulton Brewing helped Game Informer celebrate its 300th issue with a special-edition 300 Mosaic IPA. Limited edition six-packs of the 300 IPA, featuring art inspired by one of the magazine’s five collectible covers, will start appearing in stores beginning the week of February 26.

After aging for two years in charred white oak barrels, Tattersall Distilling introduced its first straight rye whiskey at an exclusive launch event last month. It will be available at select liquor stores starting at the end of February.


Martha's Daughter Owner Nyanyika Banda (right) receives an applause from patrons // Photo via Martha's Daughter Facebook

Martha’s Daughter Owner Nyanyika Banda (right) receives an applause from patrons // Photo via Martha’s Daughter Facebook

After passing its final health inspection last week, Martha’s Daughter will open in Duluth this Wednesday for limited dinner service, and Thursday with full-day service. The new restaurant is replacing the Original Coney Island on East Superior Street, which was open for nearly a century. Owner Nyanyika Banda told the Duluth Tribune that she’s eager to bring more women, particularly women of color, into an overwhelmingly-male food scene in Duluth.

It would appear that Andrew Zimmern has a Twin Cities restaurant in the works. Zimmern threw a Super Bowl party when he was in town he called Lucky Cricket, which is suspected to be the name of his (yet unconfirmed) Chinese eatery. Eater reported that, while his reps won’t confirm any plans, it’s likely that the restaurant would anchor the Dayton’s Project, the massive downtown food hall development led by Zimmern.

In further food hall-related news, Graze Provisions & Libations is the latest among an onslaught of food halls—or “collectives” as this North Loop iteration asks to be called—planned for the Cities. The collective would take the vacant spot at Fourth Street North and Fifth Avenue North, just down the street from Modist Brewing. The proposal was submitted last week for city approval, but there are no restaurants or chefs yet announced for the project.

After 20 years, St. Paul’s Wild Onion Bar & Restaurant is closing to make way for Italian eatery Red Rabbit on Grand Avenue, expected to be open by mid-summer. This will be the sixth restaurant for owner Luke Shimp, who owns the popular burger chain Red Cow, now with four locations, as well as Red Rabbit’s original North Loop location. Wild Onion fans have until March 31 to tear it up on the dance floor before they must say their goodbyes.

Starting last weekend, Tapestry Restaurant on University Avenue is serving dim sum, the Chinese equivalent to brunch, twice a day, seven days a week from 10am–3pm and 4pm–8pm. The rolling cart unique to dim sum includes everything from crispy pork dumplings to sesame balls to salt and pepper shrimp.

Chefs, put away your tissues: it appears that a tearless onion has arrived on the market, dubbed the Sunion. Though still hard-to-find (currently only available in seven states), the product is expected to see major growth over the next five years, with plans to expand production to 200 million pounds.

Vescio’s Italian Restaurant in Dinkytown is closing its doors in March after a 62-year run. The classic Italian restaurant, owned by Fredrick Vescio, opened in 1956. “We have had the pleasure of serving multiple generations of families over the years,” read a Facebook post announcing the news. “We have even had five generations of our own family working at Vescio’s in Dinkytown!!!”


Nkauj Jmong Lucy, a Peanut's statue, during the rendition unveiling ceremony before being shipped to China // Photo via the artist, Kao Lee Thao's Facebook

Nkauj Jmong Lucy (center), a Peanut’s statue, during the rendition unveiling ceremony before being shipped to China // Photo via the artist, Kao Lee Thao’s Facebook

A statue of Lucy, the beloved “Peanuts” character created by Minneapolis-born Charles Schultz, is heading to China. As a part of St. Paul-Changsha’s gift exchange project, she’ll trade out her classic outfit for an elaborate design inspired by Hmong tradition. Nkauj Hmong Lucy is one of five “Peanuts” sculptures to take part in the exchange, all of which will be sent off to China’s Hunan district this spring.

Duluth public schools are removing “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Huckleberry Finn” from their curriculums due to their use of offensive racial slurs. The decision, which is intended to be considerate to all students by not subjecting them to offensive language in required reading, was supported by the local NAACP chapter. The two books will remain available in the school libraries, but will be replaced as necessary readings by other pieces of literature.

University of Wisconsin–Madison announced a new initiative that will remove all tuition costs for in-state students coming from families making less than $56,000 per year. “Bucky’s Tuition Promise” guarantees free tuition and no fees for eight semesters.

Over in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Afton native Jessie Diggins finished sixth in the final round of the women’s classic sprint. She finished 11.23 seconds behind the winner, Sweden’s Stina Nilsson. Far from disappointed, Diggins told the Star Tribune, “If you would have told me at the start of the year that I would make the Olympic classic sprint final I would have been like, ‘Ha, that’s funny. Good joke.’”

The Mill is The Growler’s regular digest of all things new and notable in the world of food, drink, and culture. Stop back weekly for restaurant news, brewery rumors, and more. Have some news you want to share? Got some gossip to dish? Drop us a line at [email protected]



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