Smalley’s Caribbean Barbeque and Pirate Bar in downtown Stillwater served its last plate of jerk wings on Saturday, after news broke last week that the restaurant would be closing. It was initially reported that the decision by the building’s landlord caught owner Tim McKee and chef Shawn Smalley by surprise, although McKee has since come out to clarify that it was he and Smalley who made the decision to move on.
“It’s incredibly sad,” McKee told the Star Tribune. “I think the concept is so good and the product is so good. To have a run of 10 years in that town is pretty spectacular. But now unfortunately it’s coming to an end.” The restaurant was recognized nationwide for Chef Smalley’s expertise in Jamaican-style jerk cooking, even scoring a spot on Guy Fieri’s show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”
But while Smalley’s is considered by many to be a foodie destination, the establishment has always stayed true to its identity as a rugged, pirate’s haven. Smalley and McKee first met while working at La Belle Vie, making delicious Jamaican barbeque for the staff. It was then that they decided to open up their own place, focusing on cooking good food without the pretentiousness. “It was refreshing when we first started, being known for high-end cuisine, to do something dive-bar style with plastic baskets and paper,” McKee said. “I really loved that.”
While it’s reported that the decision was mutual, Smalley hasn’t held back his disappointment. “I didn’t want this to happen,” Smalley told the Stillwater Current. “I’m fucking pissed off, and I’m really sad. This is not how I wanted it to end.”
As for now, plans to reopen elsewhere haven’t been revealed. “I’ve wanted to own a bar in this town since I was 18,” Smalley says. “To be able to do that and give back to the community means a lot to me. Having that stripped away… it really hurts.”
With mounting pressure from a growing number of production craft breweries, Green Flash Brewing is pulling distribution from 33 states across the U.S., cutting 15 percent of its workforce in the process. To supply beer for the remaining 17 states, the company will source production from its two breweries in San Diego and Virginia Beach.
Rochester could be getting its sixth brewery this year, with an opening for latest (yet unnamed) brewery and taproom scheduled for the later part of the year. Former Grand Rounds head brewer Adam Fredericksen will lead the effort, having just recently signed a lease for a building on the south side of town.
HER Spirits Vodka is holding a grand opening on January 27 at the Mahtomedi Liquor Barrel. The company, which gives 50 percent of profits back to female entrepreneurs annually, will focus on distributing its vodka within Minnesota, with an eventual goal to distribute nationwide. There are no plans yet for an on-site distillery or tasting room, as the vodka is produced and bottled by United States Distilled Products in Princeton, Minnesota.
Bent Paddle Brewing will add a traditional German-style beer to their lineup, in an ode to Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra’s conductor Dirk Meyer. Düsseldorf altbier is a collaboration between German-born Meyer and Bent Paddle, described by head brewer Neil Caron describes as “a kind of a German style amber to brown ale, very malt forward, just a really nice delicate hop aroma to balance it out.”
Lakefront Brewery will once again offer free wedding and vow renewal services on February 14. The Milwaukee brewery will offer services for anyone over 21 with a valid marriage license. Each happy couple will receive two complimentary pints to ring in their matrimony, a six-pack, two Lakefront Brewery T-shirts, and two Lakefront cookies to take home.
Nonprofit grocery store Good Grocer, which has been on the corner of Stevens and Lake since 2015 serving local low-income residents, will be leveled to make way for an exit ramp in the I-35W construction. But fret not: the affordable grocer has found a new home along Eat Street in the Whittier neighborhood. Pending city approval, the new site is planning for a late 2018 opening.
Big E’s is planning to reopen in the Victory neighborhood of North Minneapolis, after its original Eat Street location was closed in 2009. Eric Austin (Big E himself), has since tried starting up a couple other soul food spots as well as a Brazilian restaurant, but launched a GoFundMe page back in December to bring back his signature Southern soul food by reopening the original eatery. Austin aims to be open by spring of 2018.
Thomas Boemer and Nick Rancone’s restaurant to go into Schmidt Brewery’s Keg and Case officially has a name: In Bloom. The name is inspired by the seasonal freshness of ingredients to be cooked over the flames of Boemer’s massive 20-foot hearth. In addition to a food menu, In Bloom will have a full bar and wine list expertly curated by Rancone.
The restaurant formerly known as Basil’s in downtown Minneapolis’ IDS building quietly re-opened last week as the Jolliet House. The breakfast-only restaurant run by the Marquette Hotel sits on a third floor balcony with views of the modernist IDS Crystal Court.
In the week leading up to the Super Bowl, hundreds of blessed individuals will attend invite-only parties at Paisley Park, and for the first time in its history, alcohol will be served within its walls. The plan for caterers to serve—but not sell—liquor at Paisley Park events was approved by the Chanhassen City Council last week, a decision which has been met with criticism by some die-hard Prince fans. Prince himself was adamant about keeping his Chanhassen home completely free of smoke and alcohol.
Pop-up outdoor venue Club Nomadic, which was planned for construction in a parking lot outside of Mystic Lake Casino in time for the Super Bowl, is no more. The six-figure space was going to host a lineup of shows featuring Gwen Stefani, Florida Georgia Line, the Chainsmokers and Kygo with Ellie Goulding, all of which will be moved to much smaller venues within the casino.
Next up in Super Bowl event news, Super Bowl Live—the 10-day free festival along Nicollet Mall starting January 26—will now include an ice rink, a heated tent with fire pits, an IMAX-style dome where visitors can watch football “in the round,” a pop-up Prince exhibit, and concerts showcasing Minnesota musicians like Dessa, Soul Asylum, the Jayhawks, and the Suburbs.
But forget the Super Bowl—arguably the most thrilling attraction to come to the Twin Cities this winter will be the Saint Paul Super Slide, a giant snow slide starting on the second level of Lowertown’s CHS Field and dropping 40 feet to the field. Open every Tuesday through Friday from January 25–February 10, riders can purchase a ticket for as many rides as they can fit within their designated hour.
After being closed for more than a year, the movie theaters at the Mall of America are reopening. The CMX Cinemas at Mall of America will offer a full luxury experience, which will be reflected in ticket prices that run about $25 for matinees and $27 for evening shows. Installation if luxury recliners will cut the amount of seats in half, but there will be a menu of gourmet food to enjoy while you watch your movie, including salmon, steak, and “Hollywood-inspired cocktails.”
And lest we forget, let’s sit back all enjoy this miraculous play a couple (or 100) more times. And then this brilliant meme of said play.
???? #MinneapolisMiracle Sideline Cam#BringItHome pic.twitter.com/fRe9CZTlwt
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) January 15, 2018
Video courtesy Minnesota Vikings Twitter.
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]