I’ve waited almost a week to write this post, as my initial shock turned to anger, and it’s never a good idea to write when you are angry. On April 30, 2020, co-owner Eric Dayton tweeted that our favorite Minneapolis restaurant and bar would not reopen.
How could this be? If anyone should have the resources to weather this storm, you’d think it would the Dayton family. They owned the building. Their mother is a Rockefeller, for crying out loud. They are fighters for the North, do-gooders trying to feed the hungry and solid fundraisers and organizers. How could they throw in the towel so early?
I’ve never met Eric Dayton, but by all accounts, he’s a good guy and outsiders never know the private facts and details behind public decisions. I’ll even cut him some slack for hating skyways. To be honest, though, I was mad at him for this decision, mad for taking away the place my wife and I visited more than a dozen times, mad for taking away our Cocktail Club destination, mad for quitting while others battle on.
Of course, life changes even in “normal” times. When my favorite bartender of all time, Pip Hanson, left in 2015 for London, we were sad. When Chef Paul Berglund left in August of 2017 (a year after winning the James Beard Award for Best Chef Midwest), we were sad. When Erin Rolek left in August of 2019 for the beautiful shores of Santa Monica, we were sad. Happy for all of them, but sad they were no longer in that special building in the North Loop.
Now we are sad for the current groups of stars who carried on the tradition. Jonathan Gans started in November of 2018 and re-earned the four star review from Rick Nelson. The Forager Chef Alan Bergo had joined the kitchen. Monday pork chop night was as good as ever.
Now we mourn the loss of the toast racks, the Swedish meatballs, the popovers, the wine board, the red books, the individually-wrapped cookies, the purple door, the “secret” staircase. Gavin Kaysen had some wonderful comments on his Instagram, Erin had an inspiring series of pictures on her Instagram story (that are now sadly gone) and Chef Jonathan is asking for financial support of his team via GoFundMe (done, Chef).
I’m sure this won’t be last of these stories before all this is over, but very few will hit us as hard as this one did. Maybe a road trip to Rochester will help a little…