I’m heartbroken: JP’s American Bistro closed Sunday night. JP’s has long been one of my all-time favorite Minneapolis restaurants. It was my husband’s and my go-to place when we wanted to celebrate but didn’t want a hulaballoo. It was my favorite bar to meet friends at during happy hour. In fact, we had a piece scheduled for the November issue of the magazine that included this passage:
“Every discussion I’ve had about restaurants in the last six months seems to lead folks to bring up one point: ‘You know what’s really good, but no one talks about? JP’s.’ It’s true: JP American Bistro, the LynLake restaurant by J. P. Samuelson, a one time saucier at Bouley in New York City, is the best, least-buzzed about restaurant in town. It’s great because Samuelson has a particular mastery over balancing points of sour, salty, and sweet in every dish, and manages to embellish local products with exotic ingredients—like oak smoked paprika or pickled lemon rind—in a way that is almost undetectable to the untrained. You eat his food and you just think: This is something simple that is very good and I don’t know why. And it’s only after quizzing Samuelson that learn the nuances he has brought to the table….”
Looks like all that not-talking about and not-buzzing seems to have added up. Worse, Samuelson isn’t just a great talent: He’s a really nice guy.
What happened? I called him up to find out. “It’s really sad,” he told me. “The construction [endless, at Lake and Lyndale] finally got to us. With the economy, the construction, Minneapolis property taxes—after our first year, because the property had been redone, our taxes went up by three-thousand dollars a month. Nobody had budgeted for that. The construction was supposed to happen in one year, but they came back and started on Lake Street, and at some point you have to cut your losses.”
It’s so sad!
“Yeah, it is,” J.P. told me. “Numerous people came by, like Mike Ryan from ‘Bewiched. He used to work here, and Mike said: ‘This doesn’t bode well for independent restaurants.’ I don’t want to be a pessimist, but I have to agree. I don’t think we’ll be the last one [closing]. With the economy the way it is, even if they approve a bailout, I think the next six months are going to be brutal, and given the life-spans of most restaurants, it’s hard to see everyone making it. This holiday season coming up; I don’t wish it on anyone. It’s unfortunate, but fine dining is just one of those things people can eliminate from their budgets.”
Well, that’s it. I’m sort of stunned. Heartbroken, stunned, afraid. If you loved J.P.’s food as much as I did, you can hire him for private events or attend his cooking classes; he’s going to keep his website up so people can contact him through that.
“Pass on my condolences to Cheryl,” I told J.P.
“I will. It is kind of like a death in the family,” J.P. told me.
Yes, it is. It’s a sad, sad day in Minneapolis.