Ever since the unfortunate fire that destroyed the former Heidi’s and Blackbird spaces on 50th St. and Bryant Ave., all Minneapolis has been wondering: What will go into that prime location?
The answer has finally been revealed: Introducing George and the Dragon, a new neighborhood brewpub.
I talked to the owner, Fred Navarro, a 17-year veteran of the Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants. Navarro ran both the company’s Mall of America properties, Tucci Bennuch and the Twin City Grill, until last summer.
“For 17 years people asked me, ‘Isn’t it your dream to open your own restaurant?’” Navarro told me. “And for 17 years I said, no, I don’t want the responsibility. It would really have to be the perfect storm. And then the perfect storm happened.” Namely, that location, which happens to be six blocks from Navarro’s house, and three blocks from his third-grader’s school. “Isn’t that the American dream, to walk six blocks to work, and then down the street to the teacher-parent conference?”
Navarro tells me it’s going to be a pub—not a gastropub. That means cooks (not a chef) and a simple menu of burgers, hand-cut fries, fried chicken, mac-and-cheese, mostly locally sourced, with Compart farms pork, Kadejan chicken, and Stony Creek Dairy, from Melrose. “I’m thinking it’s a small neighborhood spot that people pop their head into a few times a week,” Navarro says. Expect $9 burgers, a 10-beer tap line (including Guinness, Summit, Fulton and Harriet, but not Surly, which Navarro told me has a two-year wait list for new accounts, pending their eventual expansion), and on Sundays an early menu of traditional roasts and similar gather-the-family-after-church fare.
The one unexpected twist? Lumpia. Navarro is Filipino, and those thin egg-roll-like fried treats should fit well on a neighborhood pub menu. The pub plans to be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays.
The name? That’s a tip of the hat to the British pub tradition. “St. George is the patron saint of England, and he’s the patron saint of butchering, and I have a poster of Kandinsky’s St. George and the Dragon that I’ve always admired.”
Opening date? Possibly March.
George and the Dragon
813 West 50th St, Mpls.