Let’s Check in on the Final Restaurant Closings and Openings of 2023
It's the December Racket Restaurant Roundup.
1:11 PM CST on January 2, 2024
The year is new, but the Racket Restaurant Roundup is taking one last look at December's openings, closings, and coming soon-ings.
If, like me, you can't believe we're somehow in 2024 already, stay in denial a little longer and further revisit 2023 with my contributions to Eater Twin Cities' "Year In Eater" roundups.
I’ve heard of 101 Dalmatians, but 801 Fish? Located at 800 Nicollet Mall just across from its sibling restaurant, 801 Chophouse, 801 Fish (which also has locations in St. Louis and Denver) promises coastal cuisine with midwestern comfort. Think Maine lobster, Royal Ossetra caviar, filet mignon, and more.
Mrs. Dessert & Kumpir
Now, I had never heard of kumpir until last month, when Mrs. Dessert & Kumpir moved into the old Crepe & Spoon space (339 22nd Ave. NE, Minneapolis). Imagine my delight in learning that it’s a loaded baked potato stuffed to the heavens with toppings that range from chicken to hot dogs to Doritos. "It's something unique," owner Mokhalad told Racket in December of his first-in-Minnesota creations. No kidding!
Coastal Seafoods St. Paul 2.0
Coastal Seafoods’ St. Paul location just moved to 286 Snelling Ave. S., a bigger space that’ll let them introduce an expanded market, a full-service restaurant, and a “formidable array” of new features including a live lobster tank, according to a December press release. Coastal Dive Bar & Oyster Palace, the restaurant component, is slated to open later this month.
I don’t know about you, but coffee certainly rules many things around me, and that must hold true for Gerard and Brittney Klass, too. The pair behind Soul Bowl took over the former Smith & Porter space in the Mill District (428 S. Second St., Minneapolis) to open C.R.E.A.M Cafe, with coffee, teas, and all-day breakfast.
Pimento Jamaican Kitchen
St. Paul just got its second Pimento, this one on at 354 N. Wabasha St. Expect the same exceptional jerk chicken and sauces that are worth visiting for all on their own.
Lakes and Legends
Eight years after landing on La Salle Avenue, Lakes & Legends Brewing Co. closed at the tail end of 2023. “A lifetime of memories made, but all adventures have endings,” its owners wrote in a Facebook goodbye recapping all the brewery had accomplished. They followed up with another post on December 30 calling for Minnesota breweries to support local farmers.
Thirsty Whale Bakery
Don’t panic! Yes, Thirsty Whale announced on December 3 that the Minneapolis bakery would close—but though it briefly did, it’s back for the foreseeable future. YoYo Donut owners Alise and Luke McGregor, knowing what the bakery meant to its North Side neighborhood, bought the business and reopened it on December 18.
After three decades in Linden Hills, Zumbro Cafe closed at the end of December. But it sounds like something’s in the works: “So many of you have asked what the future holds for the Zumbro, and at this point all we can say is that we do not see this as an ending, but more of a transition into something new and exciting for us all,” its owners wrote in their farewell.
In similar “it’s not the end, it’s a fun transition” news, south Minneapolis's Tinto Kitchen closed last month to make way for Nico’s Tacos. And the Tinto team is staying on at Nico’s—a real win win win, there.
Half Fancy, the rebranded Central Avenue eatery formerly known as The Mill, closed shop on December 17. “Many reasons could be cited, but I'll just paraphrase The Modern from their last statement: 10 years is a long time to do any one thing,” its owner said in a Facebook farewell. “I'd say it was an agonizing choice but the doubling of cost in insurance, utilities, services, and goods made it pretty easy.”
Twin Spirits Distillery
December 30 was the last night for Twin Spirits, the Northeast distillery that opened in 2016. The first woman-owned distillery in Minnesota, as it was known, may be closed, but according to the website will be open for bottle sales on Thursdays throughout the month of January.
Is Grand Avenue dead? That's been the online reaction after news broke that Salut will close on January 8. As Kare 11 notes, "The losses are starting to pile up on St. Paul's Grand Avenue," with Lululemon, J. Crew, and Anthropologie all closing in the last year.
Just Announced and Coming Soon
Popcorn with a purpose? That’s something we can get behind. The pop shop comes from Conor O’Meara, who has autism, and his dad, Shamus; it will employ and empower other folks with autism by offering them meaningful employment. "Our experience from a family perspective… is that some of the opportunities that you and I have out there in our communities just simply aren't there or are really hard to find," Shamus told Racket last month.
A jazz-inspired club and full-service restaurant called Berlin is coming for the North Loop early this year, Bring Me the News reports. (As far as I can tell, there’s no relation to Berlin in Chicago, the iconic gay bar that closed last month after labor disputes.) Minneapolis’s Berlin is heading for the former Askov Finlayson shop.
Buongiorno, Andiamo! The Italian ristorante will open later this month at 80 N. Snelling Ave. in St. Paul, according to an Instagram post last month. It joins an existing Andiamo in Eagan.
A Bar of Their Own
A Bar of Their Own, the sports bar that’ll only screen women’s sports, has landed a location—and it’s a good one! The sports bar will open in the former Tracy’s space in Seward, according to an Instagram post from early December. They already painted the exterior bright blue; look for it to open in March.
Klassics Kitchen + Cocktails
It’s not just C.R.E.A.M. Cafe—the Klasses have announced that they’ll open an evening eatery in the adjacent space at 428 S. Second St. in Minneapolis later this year.
In August, we told you about Sunbean Coffee, which will soon light up a long-vacant storefront near Bull’s Horn in south Minneapolis (literally, with sad lamps in addition to caffeine). They got the keys last month, according to an Instagram post, and are now selling merch and coffee on their website.
Brew Lab 101
New Mexico-based brewery Brew Lab 101 Beer Co. is heading for the North Loop, according to this Business Journal scoop. It’ll open in the space that had been Clockwerks Brewing, which closed back in 2021. The kitchen, Fusion 505, will be Minnesota by way of New Mexico—not unlike owner Johnathan Welch, who moved to MN from NM a few years ago. Think hotdish and Heggies with green chilis for heat.
Càphin, the farmers market hit billed as Minneapolis’s first Vietnamese coffee truck, will soon have a permanent home in the former Jinx Tea space in Linden Hills. The Business Journal reports that it’ll have pastries from local bakeries—and soon, banh-nini, which is like a banh mi panini. Look for it to open before the Lunar New Year in February.
This French-American restaurant from a group of Gavin Kaysen alums has an opening date: January 9. Snag a reservation here.
The Brothers Eatery
Southwest Voices reports that an all-day breakfast joint called The Brothers Eatery is heading soon for the former Vo’s Vietnamese. They’ll have benedicts and omelets, plus diner classics like BLTs.
Skyway staple Walkin’ Dog is (kinda) coming back! Northstar Center shared the news on LinkedIn (LinkedIn!), saying you’ll soon be able to “enjoy dogs, malts, sides and camaraderie in an updated version of this Minneapolis classic that honors Dave & Cindy Magnuson’s legacy.”
Dave's Hot Chicken
The Dairy Queen on Ford Parkway in St. Paul—the absolute bottom of the barrel in Racket’s DQ ranking—has closed. The location will soon instead house Dave's Hot Chicken, according to the Pioneer Press. (This is the chicken chain franchised by the Kris Humphries family, and this location is one of 16 planned for Minnesota.) Look for an early 2024 opening.
In the Works
As previously reported in the Racket Restaurant Roundup...
Zamboni’s on 7th
Absolutely love this name for a bar! No notes! Zamboni’s is headed for the former Eagle Street Grille space by Xcel Energy Center, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal reports, and was slated to open by mid-November; it appears that's been delayed.
The corner address on Lyn-Lake that was very briefly Chicago’s Very Own will soon reopen as yet another restaurant named for out-of-state fare: New York Gyro is moving in. The location opposite Wrecktangle Pizza will be their seventh in MN, Bring Me the News reports.
Jade Dynasty Restaurant and Bar
Not far from the forthcoming NY Gyro, there’s finally good news for the old Fuji Ya space. Southwest Voices reports that a new hot pot and dim sum spot called Jade Dynasty Restaurant and Bar is planned to open there sometime this winter. The restaurant comes from Chuen Sai “Paul” Wu and Eric Zeng, and will specialize in Cantonese dishes and authentic Asian cuisine.
Mr. Paul’s Po’ Boys and Revival Smoked Meats at Malcolm Yards
Two new tenants have been announced at Malcolm Yards Market, which continues, un-Keg-and-Case-like, to thrive: Mr. Paul’s Po’ Boys and Jams and Revival Smoked Meats. Mr. Paul’s comes from the folks behind the supper club of the same name in Edina; Revival comes from, yes, the Revival folks. Look for both to open in January.
Expect bruschetta, fresh pasta, and lots of salads from Gia, the forthcoming Italian eatery from chef-owners Jo Seddon and Lisa Wengler. They’re planning a neighborhood restaurant for the old Cavé Vin space at 5555 Xerxes Ave. S., with hopes of opening near the end of January, according to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.
Just great news all around here: Keefer Court, the beloved Chinese bakery that closed at the tail end of 2022 after nearly 40 years at Cedar Riverside, has a new home. The bakery is headed for Asia Mall in Eden Prairie, where it’ll be owned by the owners of Pho Mai, who have purchased the bakery and will learn the recipes from Keefer Court’s original owner, Sunny Kwan, Sahan Journal reports. The latest news is that they're hoping for a December opening.
The old Clancey's space in Linden Hills (4307 Upton Ave. S., Minneapolis) will soon become a “neighborhood gathering spot first, food second” kind of spot called Picnic, Southwest Voices reports. They’ll have snacky platters, picnic boards, sandwiches, and the like. Their website is up and running; look for it to open early next year.
Petit León’s James Beard-nominated chef Jorge Guzmán is opening an “elevated Mex-Tex” restaurant at the Beach Club Residences on Bde Maka Ska. The Star Tribune reports it’ll open in February-ish of 2024, with food Guzmán says is “bold, full of flavor, and playful."
It’s been a long time since lauded pastry chef Diane Moua announced she was leaving Bellecour to focus on her own thing, but we got another update in November: The restaurant, now known as Diane's Place, will land in the Food Building (1401 NE. Marshall St.) in NE Minneapolis, according to Eater Twin Cities. It's slated to open early this year.
“If we have to pin it down, Dario is an American restaurant with Italian, French, and Asian influences,” writes Mpls. St. Paul’s Stephanie March about Dario, a new spot at 323 N. Washington Ave. in the North Loop from industry lifers Joe Rolle and Stephen Rowe. Look for it to land in early 2024.
Tender Lovin Chix
The former Fire and Nice Alehouse spot won’t be vacant long; Mpls. St. Paul Mag has the scoop on Tender Lovin Chix, a food truck-turned-brick and mortar from Marques (Ques) Johnson (the short-lived CHX tendie shops) and Billy Tserenbat (Billy Sushi). They’re looking to open in spring of 2024.
It was a bummer when Richfield’s Lyn65 closed to make way for an apartment complex a few years back, and it was a bummer when Riverview Cafe and Wine Bar closed indefinitely back in 2021. Good news on both fronts from Mpls. St. Paul Mag: Lynette, an homage to Lyn65 from a few of its founders, will head to the former Riverview space (3751 42nd Ave. S., Minneapolis) in spring 2024.
So, about the former Dangerous Man building? It’ll soon house chef Yia Vang’s long awaited Hmong fine-dining restaurant, Vinai. Initially announced pre-pandemic for another location, Vinai is now expected to open in spring 2024. “This restaurant is about carrying on my parents' legacy,” Vang says in a press release. “But it’s also about carrying on a piece of Dangerous Man’s legacy, and the legacy of the community here.”
The folks behind Centro are taking a break from tacos with their latest venture, Bina’s, a “classic dive bar” at 1404 Quincy St. NE in Minneapolis (next to their original Northeast location). Bring Me the News reports it’ll have burgers, mozzarella sticks, and fried pickles, plus Hamm’s, PBR, and agave spirits. As for whether one can simply manifest a dive bar, in 2023, in a part of Minneapolis with perhaps the highest concentration of actual dive bars in the state? We’ll see!
Ono Hawaiian Plates
Not to be confused with the wonderful On’s Kitchen, Ono Hawaiian Plates is also expanding into a new location inside United Noodles (2015 E. 24th St., Minneapolis). RIP UniDeli, but this is excellent news. And that’s not all: They’ll also soon have a grab-'n'-go counter at Lunds & Byerlys in St. Paul's Highland Park, the Strib reports. (Read our recent chat with Ono's Warren Seta about Spam here.)
Mother Dough No. 3
David Fhima’s Mother Dough Bakery is adding a third location this fall, according to Bring Me the News. You’ll find it in the Mill District, on the ground floor of the Vicinity Apartments building at Park Avenue & South Second Street.
Animales Brick 'n' Mortar
Here’s a meaty story for ya: Animales BBQ is looking to open in a brick-'n'-mortar building. Year-round ribs, folks! Jon Wipfli (of Animales) is teaming up with Billy Tserenbat (of Billy Sushi) to bring the place to life in either the North Loop or northeast Minneapolis.
New North Loop Project from Tim McKee
James Beard Award-winning chef Tim McKee (La Belle Vie, Sea Change, Octo Fishbar) has his eyes set on the North Loop for a new project inspired by the Basque region of Spain. He's being tight-lipped about the endeavor for now, but has revealed that it'll be somewhere on First Street and open sometime in 2023. Read more via the Strib.
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