One of the great mysteries of the Twin Cities food scene has been: What the devil is up with the old Bobino space? Of course, we’re talking about the legendarily pretty spot, once a funeral home, at 222 E. Hennepin across from Kramarcuk in Northeast Minneapolis. The former home of once-legendary Bobino (which J.P. Samuelson put on the map, and Marianne Miller briefly, though brilliantly, helmed). Bobino flamed out in 2005, but it stayed in the news for a good time after that as various lawsuits and accusations flew hither and yon. Sometime after that (in 2006?) black signs went up on the building announcing Rachel’s. (If I remember correctly, it was going to be the restaurant of a local chef named Rachel, but I can’t remember the last name.) I have a call into Rachel Rubin to see if it was her; I’ll let you know. Anyhoo, soon local restaurant powerhouse John Rimarcik (of Runyon’s, Monte Carlo, all those Uptown diner restaurants, and loads more) took over the space and since then… nothing. I’ve always heard it was available for private parties, but never went to one.
But then Janet intervened! Who’s Janet? A blog commenter in my recent “Small Wedding in the Spring?” post, who wondered about the space: “Does anybody know anything?”
I certainly didn’t, but I embarked on a series of phone calls that suddenly led to this news: This morning John Rimarcik told me the restaurant will be opening for dinner service, with a full liquor license, probably in January, but definitely by the spring. It will be called Rachel’s after, Rimarcik tells me, his niece Rachel and will serve “very simple, basic American, uncomplicated, non-chef-driven food.” Rimarcik had a well publicized flame-out with his one attempt at fine dining, at the exceptionally brief-lived, and spectacular, Red, and the experience left him, shall we say, chef-shy: “We’re going to have cooks, not chefs,” he told me. “Cooks are people that prepare food. Chefs are people that prepare press releases.”
I tried to get details out of him: Would it be burgers, like his many burger joints? “Certainly hamburgers, but things that are unique,” he said. I fished for what that would be—roast chicken? Chops? Didn’t get any answer. Though he did tell me they have a “state of the art” new kitchen in the space. So, a new restaurant in the old Bobino space, in January!
Except: Rimarcik is slightly notorious for giving the press news that never comes to fruition—he told the Pioneer Press Rachel’s was going to open as a once-a-week dinner spot in 2007; there were any number of reports bringing news of Café Havana re-opening; there were stories in 2006 announcing Rimarcek’s plan to open a 150-room upscale hotel with 400 units of condos on the Monte Carlo’s block. So, I give you this news with a whole heaping spoonful—instead of a mere grain—of salt.
In conclusion: Rachel’s to open! Perhaps. In any event, you now know as much as any restaurant insider: The place belongs to John Rimarcik. If you love it and want it for a wedding, call Runyon’s; if you love it and want it to re-open as a restaurant, at least one local writer was 100% told it would open in January. More when I know more. Till then: Thanks, Janet!