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Thursday, February 2, 2012

DeRushaEats: New Restaurant Antic-ippointment

This was to be the year of the incredible new restaurant openings! By now you've heard about Jack Riebel's new place, The Butcher and the Boar (I drive by it on my way to work every day—it's a tremendous tease.), you've heard about the Northeast Social boys and their new venture with bartending wizard Nick Kosevich, and then there's the Be'Wiched Deli team opening Icehouse.

First: The news. An opening date. Eat Street Social just released their happy hour hours on Facebook. They were originally set to open around New Years, but they're not missing their target by much. I'm hearing they'll open in less than a week, on Wednesday the 8th. (Just in time for all that Valentine's Day business.)

When Dara first wrote about Butcher and the Boar in September, she wondered if they'd open before Thanksgiving, or before Christmas. Jack tells me he's not going to make Valentine's Day. But will open in February!

Icehouse was supposed to open in the fall of 2011, according to their Facebook page, but now they'll be opening in May of 2012.

So what's taking so long? I'm asking that question today, and I'll update this if and when I get more specific responses.

But from conversations with some of the people involved: It's the little things and the big things, and how the little things affect the big things.

Converting a law office into a restaurant is a major undertaking—with huge heating, venting, plumbing, electrical, and physical changes to the building. With each step comes delays and problems, and licensing issues.

When you order custom-made appliances and the company ends up shipping a week late, that puts everything a week behind. Sometimes enthusiasm for an open date doesn't always gel with reality of all the city inspections that come each step of the way.

It's one of the problems of the build-up to new restaurants. Rye Deli suffered from huge expectations prior to opening, and it was rocky when it did, but Dara reviewed it quite positively in this month's magazine, as did Rick in today's Star Tribune. Antic-ippointment is a problem.

I've tasted some of Jack's meats (hey now!) and they're fantastic. The Butcher and the Boar is so close to WCCO, I know I'm going to be there all the time (when they open).

I've also enjoyed many of the cocktails at Eat Street at a trial run last week (only $9 for all of them!), and they're incredible. I predict Eat Street will become the non-stuffy, laid-back, cocktail-lovers place to be. It'll be the Town Talk Diner for 2012.

And when Icehouse opens—the incredible food that Be'Wiched produces along with the cocktails of Johnny Michaels—that 26th & Nicollet corner is going to be red hot.

Just get opened already, people!

Posted on Thursday, February 2, 2012 in Permalink

Comments may be edited for length, clarity, or appropriateness.

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Feb 6, 2012 05:21 pm
 Posted by  matt@icehousempls

Whew! Opening a restaurant is a huge pain in the ass. For good reason, the dining public can only support so many restaurants. Assuming you have the stomach for one of the riskier endeavors, it is necessary to ask yourself some questions:
Do I have the ability to bring to market a product that is required or unique? If so, can I piecemeal the required capitol? This is the biggie, unless you are a “cake-eater”. Can my lifestyle take this kind of hit? These are a few.
It is difficult to align the dominoes and open “on time” or before you go broke. Of course the idea is to reserve working capital to afford a little sanity. Ideally you have a couple payrolls, some months’ rent, and opening inventory.
Many hats are required to open a restaurant. Assuming you have a rock star location, it is imperative to negotiate a good lease. Broker or not, TI dollars, options, and % rent are negotiable. It is hard enough to make a buck, hang on to your damn money.
It is difficult to find an investor for a restaurant. There are a couple schools of thought here: embrace the government loan, grind it out and pay off your long term debt OR sell parts of your company to investors. Neither of which is easy or ideal.
Once you have your financial plan and lease, you will learn more than you will ever care to about the following: zoning, licensing, local and state regulations, SAC surprise, etc.
I realize that this is a long and opinionated response to Mr. Derusha, but therapeutic. When reporting new restaurants, there is an abundance of excitement from everyone involved. It is difficult to hold your tongue in excitement, when being interviewed about such a crazy and undetermined path. Unfortunately the first question always asked is: “when are you going to open?” Of course the answer is and should be: “I don’t know”. Problem being, that answer doesn’t typically fly.
I am excited to report with confidence that Icehouse will open in time for Spring!

Feb 6, 2012 05:32 pm
 Posted by  Jason DeRusha

Awesome answer. Thanks Matt for posting!

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