Order Up! The Rise and Fall of Minneapolis’ Restaurant Empires

Fire & Whiskey recently closed in New Richmond WI // Photo via Fire & Whiskey Facebook

Updated July 18, 2019

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: Empires rise, and empires fall—size, pedigree, and/or critical praise aren’t enough to keep a restaurant afloat in a murderously competitive market. Over the past month, we’ve seen closures including the ambitious Revolution Hall food hall concept at Rosedale Mall, Fire & Whiskey (the newest Justin Sutherland / Madison Restaurant Group outpost in New Richmond, Wisconsin), the perennial Uptown stalwart of Famous Dave’s in Calhoun Square, Andrew Zimmern’s controversial St. Louis Park-based and Chinese-inspired Lucky Cricket (purportedly closed for two weeks of remodeling; a call to the restaurant suggests a reopening “later this month,” without a specific date), and Corner Table, one of the best-loved local farm-to-table restaurants back in its prime. Size brings attention and flair but it also brings big overhead; trendiness brings buzz but also vulnerability to changing tastes, and reaching a peak of critical praise sets a high bar that needs to be maintained more or less in perpetuity. Openings still outweigh closings in Minnesota by a comfortable margin, but there’s no doubt that it takes hustle, luck, and hard work to keep the doors open in the current environment.

RECENTLY OPENED (Up to 2 Months)

Mucci’s Beverly pizza // Photo via Mucci’s Instagram


Due Focacceria, 475 Fairview Ave. S., St. Paul ■ The former Espresso Royale space is being reinvented as a combination Italian market and restaurant. Opened July 23.

Rose Street Patisserie (fourth location), 882 West 7th St., Schmidt Brewery Rathskeller Building, St. Paul, ■ The rapidly expanding Rose Street Patisserie empire continues its growth with a second space in the former Schmidt Brewery complex on West 7th in St. Paul, this time in the Rathskeller building. Opened July 16.

Loon Cafe, 426 Saint Peter St., St. Paul ■ A second location for the 37-year-old Minneapolis stalwart of the same name, opened in the former Great Waters. Opened July 9.

Mucci’s (Minneapolis Location), 901 W. Lake St., Minneapolis ■ The incredibly popular St. Paul-based Italian-American spot is opening a branch across the river in the former Meyvn space. Opened July 2. Read our profile of owner Tim Niver, “Dollars to Dumplings.”

Falls Landing at Artisan Plaza Eatery and Market, 1223 4th St. S., Cannon Falls ■ The next step for St. Paul mainstay J.D. Fratzke (Bar Brigade, Strip Club Meat and Fish) is a supper club-style restaurant at the Artisan Plaza in Cannon Falls. Opened June 25, 2019.

Moose Bear Wolf, 101 N. Central Ave., Ely ■ Bryan Morcom (an Iron Range native and former chef de cuisine at Alma) has opened an ambitious “local first” restaurant in Ely. The restaurant is open on a pop-up basis and may or may not continue past this year’s summer season. Opened June 21, 2019. Read our interview (about visiting the Boundary Waters) with Moose Bear Wolf owner Steve Piragis, “How to Boundary Waters.”

Prieto, 701 W. Lake St., Minneapolis ■ Alejandro Castillon (formerly of Sonora Grill) is taking advantage of the massive smoker at the old Hasty Tasty location to bring smoked meats together with house-made tortillas to Lyn-Lake. Opened June 17, 2019.

El Cubano, 870 Dodd Rd., West St. Paul ■ El Cubano has made the jump from food truck to bricks and mortar in West St. Paul. El Cubano joins a growing community of Cuban and Cuban-inspired restaurants including Key West Bistro, Victor’s 1959 Cafe, and Guavas Cuban Cafe. Opened June 14, 2019.

Treats Cereal Bar and Boba, 770 Grand Ave., St. Paul ■ Cereal combined with soft-serve ice cream and boba tea drinks are the hallmarks of this new spot on Grand Avenue in St. Paul. Opened June 13, 2019.

Olive and Lamb, 2424 University Ave. N., Minneapolis ■ The former Marina Grill and Deli has reopened with a clean, modern look and an emphasis on Mediterranean fare such as falafel and lamb burgers. Opened June 11, 2019.

Magic Noodle, 1337 University Ave. W., St. Paul ■ The former Taste of Thailand has reopened with new, hand-pulled noodles on the menu. Opened June 10, 2019.

Duluth Coffee Company (satellite location at Hoops Brewing), 325 S. Lake Ave., Duluth ■ A second location for Duluth Coffee Company, extending its footprint into Duluth’s popular Canal Park neighborhood and operated in conjunction with the Ripple Bar at Hoops Brewing. Opened June 1, 2019. Read our Duluth and Superior food roundup, “Taste of the Twin Ports.”

Cheese Louise, 4279 Sheridan Ave. S., Minneapolis ■ Brunch, salads, and gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches make up the bill of fare at this food-truck-gone-brick-and-mortar in Linden Hills, run by Cheryl Rossi (an alum of Lucia’s in Uptown) and business partner Holly Miller-Byzewski. Opened May 21, 2019.

The Fitz, 173 Western Ave. N., St. Paul ■ The Fitz is a more casual, Justin Sutherland-run reboot of the former Fitzgerald’s space in St. Paul’s Cathedral Hill neighborhood, featuring deep-dish pizza. Opened May 20, 2019.

RECENTLY CLOSED (Up to 2 Months)

Kafe 421 recently closed // Photo via Kafe 421 Facebook

Kafe 421 ■ The Dinkytown stalwart is calling it quits after 16 years in business. Will close July 31.

Corner Table ■ Corner Table was one of the foundational stalwarts of the Minnesota farm-to-table scene under both the original chef Scott Pampuch and the Thomas Boemer / Nick Rancone team that followed. Will close July 31.

Snuffy’s Malt Shop (St. Paul location only) ■ The nostalgia (and milkshake) merchants of Snuffy’s are closing one of their numerous location, the high-profile spot in St. Paul that has been in business for nearly 40 years. Will close July 25.

Famous Dave’s (Calhoun Square location) ■ Amid a local boom in serious BBQ, Uptown mainstay Famous Dave’s is shutting down its Calhoun Square location, known as much for its live music program as its food. Closed July 13.

Lucky Cricket (temporary closure) ■ Andrew Zimmern’s controversial Chinese-inspired eatery in St. Louis Park announced a two-week closure for unspecified remodeling on July 4. Closed July 4; slated to re-open July 18, but a call to the restaurant on July 16 made the date sound less definite than that, with a more vague “this month” reopening promised. Read our review of Lucky Cricket, “(Un)Lucky Cricket.”

Bistro La Roux ■ The former Cajun to Geaux truck turned bricks-and-mortar in Circle Pines is shutting its doors at the end of the month, but may reincarnate in its truck format once again. Closed June 29.

Fire and Whiskey ■ The newest piece of the Justin Sutherland / Madison Restaurant Group empire, opened in March, has already shut its doors. Closed June 28.

Marla’s Caribbean ■ Marla’s, a beloved South Minneapolis institution known for its chickpea doubles and other Trinidadian fare, is calling it quits after a decade-plus run. Closed June 15.

Enji to open in the former Scena space // Photo via Enji Facebook

UPCOMING (Most Imminent to Furthest Out)Enji, 1320 W. Lake St., Minneapolis ■ The former Scena will become an Asian-inspired restaurant by Gene Suh, who owns Lyndale Tap House, Hammer & Sickle, Aloha Poke Co., and The Fremont. Opens July 2019.

Kieran’s Kitchen at the Food Building, 1401 Marshall St. NE, Minneapolis  ■ A new cafe, deli, and bar at the Food Building to replace the former Draft Horse. Opens July 2019.

Vann, 4016 Shoreline Dr., Spring Park ■ Chef Erik Skaar (Bachelor Farmer, Tilia) brings a Scandinavian-themed seafood spot to the shores of Lake Minnetonka. Opens July 2019.


Thr3 Jack, 729 Washington Ave. N., Minneapolis ■ Six state-of-the-art golf simulators and elevated comfort food will define this new 200-seat restaurant in the North Loop’s soon-to-open Nordic mixed-use complex. Opens Summer 2019.

Provision Community Restaurant, 2940 Harriet Ave., Minneapolis ■ A shared community kitchen and pay-what-you-can cafe are at the heart of this new business in the former Salty Tart space. Opens Summer 2019.

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. Opens Summer 2019.

The Nordic Galley Group project, 729 Washington Ave. N., Minneapolis ■ A four-restaurant food hall / incubator in the new Nordic development. Part of a series of Galley Group incubator spaces including spots in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Detroit. Opens Summer 2019.

Alemar Cheese Co. at The Food Building, 525 N. 3rd St., Minneapolis ■ A well-regarded Mankato-based creamery will open a facility at Northeast Minneapolis’ Food Building, taking the slot once occupied by Lone Grazer. Opens July 2019.

Graze Provisions and Libations, 525 N. 3rd St., Minneapolis ■ A new North Loop food hall with an exclusive emphasis on chef-driven dining. Opens Summer 2019.

just/us, 275 4th St. E., St. Paul ■ This chef-driven collective restaurant, open for about a year at 465 Wabasha Street, is reopening with support from crowdfunding. Opens Summer 2019. Read our review, “Raw Talent.”

Snack Bar, 800 Washington Ave. N., Minneapolis ■ The couple between 112 Eatery, Burch, and Bar La Grassa (Isaac Becker and Nancy St. Pierre) are opening a New York-inspired pizza slice shop and wine bar in the former Be’Wiched space. Opens Late Summer 2019.

New Vestalia Hospitality Concept [Name TBD], 1432 W. 31st St., Minneapolis ■ A new spot from Ann Kim’s restaurant group focused on tacos wrapped in handmade, traditional tortillas. 2019.

Dayton’s Food Hall & Market, 700 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis ■ Major new 40,000-square-foot food hall curated by Andrew Zimmern. 2019.

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.

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.” 2020.