When Jami Olson and José Alarcon announced they were closing Popol Vuh for good, they immediately said they weren’t giving up on the space. The reality of pandemic and post-pandemic life does not look very optimistic for fine dining and high-end destination spaces. (Pre-pandemic, things were touch and go, to be honest.)
Now we’ve learned what’s coming: ViV!R (vivir is the Spanish verb for “to live”) will be a Mexican cafe, market, and bakery. Expect small plates, grab-and-go deli items, daily breads, and pastries. There will be a retail market with snacks and condiments and home goods as well from northeast Minneapolis and Mexican artists and artisans.
“ViV!R will allow us to continue to create during a time when it feels like life is on hold,” said Jami Olson, owner and general manager of Centro and ViV!R in a statement. They’ll do agave tastings as well as Mexican wine tastings in the space. (Thank goodness, the Mexican wine dinners at Popol Vuh have been incredibly rewarding and illuminating to highlight a wine region previously unexplored in the Twin Cities.) They’ll have classes and tastings for up to 14 guests, and they’ll do some shaken and tap cocktails at lunch and dinner.
Chef and co-owner Alarcon teamed up with pastry chef Ngia Xiong to open it up. Alarcon said he was inspired by casual market food of Mexico. This really sounds like the template for what you’d design if you were coming up with a restaurant concept in 2020. It will be different than the taco-heavy Centro menu, but easy takeout carries over. This will be comfort food like bread and pastries, more seasonal empanadas and verduras, chilaquiles, enmoladas, all-day breakfast items, fresh ceviches, salads, and sandwiches. To drink, cocktail kits for takeout, as well as Mexican Coke and agua frescas. With bulk pantry staples by the pound, you can elevate your home cooking.
Look for a new front door on NE 15th Avenue, separate from Centro. They’ll have a new patio on Quincy Street with 40 seats, as well as 38 low and high-top seats inside. Look for ViV!R this fall serving the neighborhood from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
ViV!R, 1414 Quincy Street NE, Minneapolis, vivirmpls.com