Order Up! Crowdfunding campaign for Yia Vang’s Vinai off and running

Kickstarter-backed Vinai // Photo via Vinai Facebook

Updated February 13, 2020

Order Up! is the Growler’s ongoing biweekly account of noteworthy Minnesota restaurant openings, closings, and future openings. Please send any tips to [email protected]

All dates are approximate based on best information available; opening dates, in particular, tend to shift around a lot. 

THIS WEEK’S GIST: With more than 20 days to go, the Kickstarter campaign to fund Yia Vang’s new Hmong food restaurant, Vinai, is off to a cracking start with more than $44,000 raised toward a goal of $75,000. “Despite having the world’s largest concentration of Hmong people outside of Asia, the Hmong voice is missing from the Twin Cities food conversation,” notes the Kickstarter’s introductory text, and that nails the importance of this effort—Vinai looks poised to become a nationally significant home for Hmong cookery. Hmong food is, of course, available in many other restaurants around the metro area, from the Southeast Asian spots on University Avenue to Hmong-focused mall stalls at Hmong Village and Hmongtown, but the “voice” concept is Vinai’s calling card—education and dialogue with the community at large is core to its mission. We’ve written about Vang before, most notably in John Garland’s story The Very Visible Yia Vang, and I had the good fortune to work with Vang at Chef Camp, where he prepared an absurdly generous Kamayan feast for campers. Vang—who also hosts a series called Relish on TPT—is as charismatic a speaker as he is a talented chef, and Vinai seems poised to change the Minnesota dining scene when its doors open later this year.

RECENTLY OPENED (Up to 2 Months)

Angelea’s Soul Food Kitchen is now open // Photo via Angelea’s Soul Food Kitchen Facebook

Angelea’s Soul Food Kitchen, 7800 Zane Ave N., Brooklyn ParkMeat and sides dominate the menu at this new soul food spot helmed by four siblings who seek to honor their mother’s legacy. Opened January 24.

Phi Chay Thai Cuisine, 967 W 7th St, St Paul ■ The former Supatra’s Thai location on West 7th has reopened under new ownership, but has kept the Thai theme. Opened January 20.

The Lumberjack, 123 North 2nd St, Suite 102, Stillwater ■ Axe throwing, board games, and comfort food are among the key draws at this new Stillwater restaurant. Opened December 21, 2019.

North Loop Galley, 729 Washington Ave. N., Minneapolis ■ A four-restaurant food hall / incubator in the new Nordic development featuring Hawaiian plate lunches, Detroit-style pizza, the home of “the original chicken wrib,” and Southeastern Asian cuisine. Part of a series of Galley Group incubator spaces including spots in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Detroit. Opened December 16, 2019.

RECENTLY CLOSED (Up to 2 Months)

Dulceria Bakery will be closing Feb. 22 // Photo via Dulceria Bakery Facebook

Model Citizen ■ One of the most noteworthy farm-to-table restaurants in Minnesota will be closing—temporarily, as they relocate—when its lease with Goat Ridge Brewing expires at the end of March. Read our profile of Model Citizen’s chef-owners, “Country Flavor.” Closing March 29.

New French Bakery ■ One of the only notable bargain bread outlets will be no more when the New French Bakery shop on 26th Avenue closes later this winter. The company’s wholesale frozen bread business will continue. Closing “no later than March 6,” as per the Star Tribune

Dulceria Bakery ■ This unique Mexican bakery in South Minneapolis (which often offers vegan spins on traditional baked goods) will be shutting its doors later this month. Closing February 22.

McKinney Roe ■ This large-scale, luxuriously appointed restaurant made a three-year go of it in the shadow of US Bank Stadium under the ownership of Dermot Cowley. Closed Jan 19. 

The Bird ■ Kim Bartmann’s Loring Park restaurant The Bird has shut its doors but will continue doing catering and breakfast and lunch delivery. Closed January 15.

Blackbird ■ Blackbird’s 13-year-odyssey—which involved a catastrophic fire, a successful change of venue, and innovative fusion cuisine and wine offerings—ended early this year. Closed January 7. 

Ike’s Food and Cocktails (downtown Minneapolis location) ■ As per City Pages, rent-related struggles seem to have contributed to ending this restaurant’s 18-year run. Closed January 2. 

Sanctuary ■ Avant-garde food and a theater-proximate location were enough to carry this stylish restaurant for more than a decade. Closed January 1. 

Mercado ■ The Jester Concepts Mexican-inspired spot at LynLake is shutting its doors after a relatively brief run. Closed December 31. 

Hickory-n-Hops ■ The former Lyndale Taphouse gave up the ghost after a change of ownership and rebranding effort last summer. Closed December 30. 

Supatra’s Thai ■ This beloved West 7th Thai mainstay has shut its doors after a 15-year-run; owner Supatra Johnson plans to offer Thai cooking classes in 2020. Closed December 28. 

Maeve’s Cafe ■ Longstanding Northeast Minneapolis staple Maeve’s Cafe is shutting its doors later this month. Closing December 22. 

Spoonriver ■ One of the key Guthrie Theater-adjacent (and vegetarian-friendly) spots in Minneapolis is shutting its doors after nearly 15 years of service. Closing December 22. 

Happy Gnome ■ After a long, high-profile run as one of the state’s foundational craft beer bars, the Happy Gnome threw in the towel at the end of 2019. Closed December 22. 

UPCOMING (Most Imminent to Furthest Out)

Pie from Pie and Mighty, which is set to open winter 2020 / Photo by Tony Saunders

Heather’s, 5201 Chicago Ave. S., Minneapolis ■ The long-vacant Mario’s space in South Minneapolis will be reborn with a flexible, seasonal menu under the leadership of Heather Asbury, formerly of Lucia’s. Opening Winter 2020.

Cajun Twist, 3761 Bloomington Ave, Minneapolis ■ This Cajun-inspired restaurant will be moving from its current location at the trailhead at Theodore Wirth Park to the former Marla’s location in South Minneapolis. Opening Winter 2020. 

Pie & Mighty, 3553 Chicago Ave, Minneapolis ■ Gourmet pies (and pie subscriptions) will be the thing at this bricks-and-mortar incarnation of the popular local baking company. Opening Winter 2020. 

Pearl and the Thief, 811 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis ■ This former Stillwater-based restaurant is in the process of relocating to downtown Minneapolis, colocating with the Moxy Downtown Minneapolis hotel and Ironclad Residential development. Opening timing unclear.

Pajarito (Edina location), 3910 W 50th St, Edina ■ A second location of the popular West 7th modern Mexican restaurant is opening up in the former Tejas space in Edina. Opening Winter 2020.

Coffee Cup on Randolph, 1333 Randolph Ave., St. Paul ■ The venerable Copper Dome is being replaced by a similar classic diner concept with new ownership. Opening Winter 2020.

Sooki and Mimi, 1432 W. 31st St., Minneapolis ■ A new spot from Ann Kim’s restaurant group focused on tacos wrapped in handmade, traditional tortillas plus a basement bar. Early 2020.

Unleashed: Hounds and Hops, 200 E. Lyndale Ave., Minneapolis ■ A dog-focused tap house, dog park, and eatery located near the Minneapolis Farmers Market. Early 2020.

Pho Mai, 319 14th Ave SE, Minneapolis ■ A new pho-focused eatery in a former Dinkytown Tim Horton’s, from the owner of the popular MT Noodles in Brooklyn Park. February 2020.

Malcolm Yards Market, 501 30th Ave. SE, Minneapolis ■  A food hall that will capitalize on its proximity to Surly’s massive brewery/restaurant complex. Spring 2020.

Bebe Zito Ice Cream, 704 W. 22nd St, Minneapolis ■ An upscale ice cream shop by Ben Spangler, who created the opening slate of flavors for Milkjam. March 2020.

Breaking Bread (re-opening), 1210 W Broadway Ave, Minneapolis ■ The beloved modern soul food spot in North Minneapolis will be reopening later this year after a hiatus. Opening April 2020.

Surdyk’s Sidebar, 303 E. Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis ■ A new 60-seat bar and brasserie co-located with Surdyk’s cheese and liquor shops on Hennepin Avenue. Opening Summer 2020.

Vinai Hmong Kitchen, Location TBA ■ The Kickstarter-backed bricks-and-mortar Hmong cuisine-focused restaurant by Chef Yia Vang is due to pop this year, after more than a year of planning. 2020.

Birchwood-Minnesota Farmers Union Project TBA, 750 S 2nd St, Minneapolis ■ A new farm-to-table focused project led by Birchwood chef Marshall Paulsen will replace the former Spoonriver near the Guthrie Theater. Spring 2020.

Billy Sushi, 116 N 1st Ave., Minneapolis ■  Former Sushi Fix owner Billy Tserenbat is jump-starting a new venture in the former Sweet Chow space in the North Loop, with the former adjacent ice cream shop turning into a whiskey and sake bar. May 2020.

Erik the Red (relocating), 4621 Snelling Ave, Minneapolis at the Lowa46 development, Minneapolis ■ The US Bank Stadium-adjacent “viking bar” is packing up and bringing its smoked meats, cocktails, and craft beer taps to South Minneapolis. Opening Summer 2020.

Dayton’s Food Hall & Market, 700 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis ■ Major new 40,000-square-foot food hall curated by Andrew Zimmern. 2020.

The Sioux Chef Restaurant at Water Works, On the Mississippi River, behind the Mill City Museum ■ A restaurant focused on American Indian cuisine as imagined by Sean Sherman, The Sioux Chef. Currently delayed; as per Dana Thompson (co-owner / COO of Sioux Chef), “We are at the mercy of the Park Board project and we keep getting notified that Waterworks has encountered a series of delays. As you know, this project is an archeological dig, so add that on to what it takes to open a restaurant, and there are a few challenges.” 2021.