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Food & Drink

It Is Sandcastle’s Final Year at Lake Nokomis

Or Anywhere. (It's Closing.)

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In this state, especially after this cruel spring, we celebrate the opening of our park-based restaurants.

Sea Salt, the crown jewel at Minnehaha Falls Park, opened for the season two weeks ago; the opening of Lake Harriet’s Bread & Pickle is TBD as its crumbling home takes on even more damage; and Owamni, one of our favorite restaurants is town, is always open along the downtown riverfront.

That leaves Sandcastle, celebrated chef Doug Flicker’s hotdog/sandwich/taco beach hut at Lake Nokomis. The good news? Sandcastle will start slingin’ Dog Flickers (beef frank, kimchee, cilantro, fried egg) and local brews beginning May 12. The bad news? It’ll be the restaurant’s final summer.

“It is with mixed feelings that we share that this will be the last year of Sandcastle,” co-owner Amy Greeley wrote Wednesday via Facebook. “Ten years ago Doug, Chele [Payer], and I signed a lease for the refectory at Lake Nokomis. We had great plans to build something with quality food, fast service, and become a part of the community. We were able to do a lot and working to respond to the needs of the neighbors and community, we believe Sandcastle became something wonderful over the years.”

Greeley—who also co-owns the nearby/indispensable Bull’s Horn with Flicker—goes on to write that the Minneapolis Park Board will be posting a Request for Proposals (RFP) later this summer to determine the next Nokomis tenant. The Sandcastle crew won’t be involved in that process, she notes, but they’re available for insight/anecdotes about running a beachside restaurant in south Minneapolis.

“Our goal is to have a fabulous new vendor in place by next summer,” Park Board PR rep Robin Smothers tells Racket. “The process to make that happen is to issue a RFP, work with the community to make a recommendation, and bring that recommendation before the Board of Commissioners.”

Expect that RFP to drop next month.

Like all restaurants, Sandcastle suffered during COVID-19. Among the park-based ones, it suffered the most, Axios reported last month. Sea Salt netted $3.4 million in revenue last year, according to figures provided by the Park Board, while Owamni made $1.7 million in just five months of operation, and Bread & Pickle made $1.4 million. Sandcastle, which limited its menu in ’21 and closed sooner than its sister spots, stacked just $483,000, down 37% from 2019. Finances had nothing to do with Sandcastle’s impending departure, Smothers says. The decision to not renew was made by the owners.

Sandcastle will offer a full menu from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. everyday throughout its swan-song summer, Greeley says.