Spring restaurant opening season is in full swing, and this week it’s Minneapolis’ time in the spotlight. Tonight is opening night — technically re-opening night, more on that below — of Grand Cafe.
Here’s why this restaurant is one of the biggest openings of the season:
1. The chefs are Erik Anderson and Jamie Malone.
Restaurant-obsessives have known these two a while, but here’s the refresher: Anderson spent time in some serious fine-dining kitchens, but he really made a name for himself as the chef of Nashville’s hit tasting menu destination Catbird Seat, which he ran with chef Josh Habiger from its opening in 2011 through the end of 2013 (Habiger actually left first). Under Anderson, Catbird Seat earned all sorts of accolades, landing on GQ’s and Bon Appetit’s best new restaurants lists, and Anderson was a Food and Wine Best New Chef in 2012.
Jamie Malone also has some serious Minneapolis bona fides. She’s best known for her work as the chef de cuisine of the acclaimed restaurant Sea Change (a position Anderson also once held). During her tenure there, she earned a place on Food and Wine’s best new chef list for 2013.
These two are a power couple of the Midwestern culinary scene.
2. Grand Cafe quickly turned into a hotly anticipated opening.
When Anderson left Catbird Seat and Malone then left Sea Change, the pair announced their intention of opening a new Minneapolis restaurant called Brut together in 2015. But it hasn’t happened.
When news broke in December 2016 that Malone would take over the stoves at neighborhood gem Grand Cafe, it was a big deal. After about two years of various pop-ups and events, there would finally be a permanent home for Malone’s cooking again in Minneapolis. It was a blow when in January the restaurant announced it would close in February — but the tides turned in March: The duo purchased Grand Cafe. “We are still looking for the perfect spot for Brut, but sometimes you follow that path that life puts in front of you,” Malone told Eater Twin Cities then.
On the radar for only a couple months, the re-launch of Grand Cafe became the hottest opening in Minneapolis — and one of the hottest openings in the country.
3. Taking over existing restaurants can actually be a big risk.
While it must be nice to have a confirmed space (it’s been hard for the pair to find a home for Brut), updating restaurants that had loyal followings comes with its own set of risks. Restaurateurs who take over pre-existing concepts can find themselves facing change-resistant clientele. With their star power — especially in the local dining scene — it seems like Anderson and Malone have as good a shot as anyone at getting the public excited about their vision for Grand Cafe. (And to be sure, taking over a 10-year-old space isn’t quite the same thing as, say, a 100-year-old space.)
4. French cuisine is happening in Minneapolis.
As Eater’s roving dining critic Bill Addison predicted earlier this year, French cuisine has become a defining feature of 2017. Bistros and brasseries are particularly relevant right now — surely in large thanks to Ludo Lefebvre’s 2014 LA hit Petit Trois, and 2016 NYC winners Augustine and Le Coucou.
In Minneapolis, Spoon and Stable’s Gavin Kaysen opened his ode to French cuisine, Bellecour. (Yes, officially the restaurant is outside of MPLS city limits.) Not only was his bistro a nationally-anticipated opening, diners were so excited for it that they booked over 1,000 reservations in the first 24 hours.
Eater Twin Cities reports that the Grand Cafe menu will be “driven by French classics made with a bit of a modern technique.”
5. And Grand Cafe looks adorable.
Check out that on-trend frond wall, and head over to Eater Twin Cities for a more full tour of the space.
• Grand Cafe [Official site]
• Behind the Scenes at Grand Cafe Moments Before They Open [ETC]
• Grand Cafe Will Re-Open May 12 [ETC]