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Food & Drink

We’re Off to ‘Niver Niver Land’

The guy behind Saint Dinette and Mucci's Italian is about to be the guy in front of the microphone.

This fall, acclaimed Twin Cities restaurateur and celebrated online goof Tim Niver is coming to a podcast streaming service near you.

Niver Niver Land bills itself as “a podcast that addresses massive change in the restaurant industry.”

(“Sometimes.”)

This short lil clip should give you a sense of what to expect:

Although… no, it doesn’t actually tell you what to expect at all.

“Well, you know, I’m not sure exactly what it’s going to turn into,” Niver tells Racket. He’s only recorded one episode so far, so really, what happens next is anyone’s guess. “I think, in general, I was looking for a way to make sure that I could put my vibes out there and keep things moving along with my businesses and my own life.”

Niver has a reputation as a disarming, approachable guy. If you’ve been to his spots—Saint Dinette, Mucci’s Italian, and Mucci’s Trattoria (and before that, Strip Club Meat & Fish, R.I.P.)—you’ve probably seen him chatting amiably with guests and staff, his cackle occasionally breaking through the general dining room bustle.

During the early stages of the pandemic, he did a series of Instagram live videos about the state of the industry. Sometimes he offered up advice, but more often he was working through his own confusion and uncertainty out loud.

Did he know more than anyone else what the fuck he was doing? Absolutely not.

But by sharing those experiences as they happened with the perspective of someone who’s been at this for more than a decade, Niver helped other independent restaurant owners along. That’s at least in part what spurred this new project.

“It feels self-important at first: Who’s gonna want to listen to this shit?” Niver says. “But I had some questions I wanted to ask and some people I wanted to talk to. These last 18 months, two years, have left me with more things that I don’t know than I do, you know? I just feel like I owe it to myself to seek a little bit more.”

Niver’s working with producer Matt Gundram from Gleam Tower Media, whose previous project, Food Under Fire, “explored grace and resilience in the food system” after the pandemic hit and upended the industry. Just about every notable name in Twin Cities food made an appearance at one time or another, sharing their thoughts on everything from work-life balance to smiling in the face of fear.

Food Under Fire has since concluded, but the topics it tackled aren’t going anywhere. “Everybody’s raw and sensitive, but we need to kind of put those things down and start working on some stuff,” Niver says. “Change is something I think we need to harness and jump on with.”

The plan is to talk about questions that’ll be relevant for him and for listeners in, adjacent to, and outside of the restaurant industry. Ideally (but not certainly), there will be some theme running through the show. In either case, it’ll have a tone that’s both respectful and slightly snarky. “I’m just trying to be open, like I am, in front of people,” Niver says. “And just see if there’s something we can figure out.”

“Being my age, I’m reprogramming like crazy right now. All the shit that I’ve learned—and don’t feel bad for this white guy—but there’s a bunch of shit to tackle right now, and I’m working through it.” He gives a lot of credit to his daughter, who teaches him about “everything [he’s] been doing wrong.”

Like every restaurant owner navigating this pandemic, Niver has no idea what comes next or what’s waiting after that.

“We still don’t know what’s going to happen with people. Nobody’s really landed yet. Downtowns have emptied out. This is a brand new marketplace, really… it’s a whole new world, and we’re all kind of reassessing. What we were doing before, what we’re doing now—we’re trying to guess, with 2022.”

So… what exactly can listeners expect from this podcast?

“I don’t know, this wasn’t even going to be a thing that anybody would call me to interview me about!” Niver laughs. “Did I just say anything? Did I say… anything?”

Niver and Gundam are recording the second episode of Niver Niver Land next week, and the three-episode series will (probably) land sometime this November. If people like it, maybe there’ll be another season.

Follow NNL on Instagram for slightly more concrete updates.