Monday, April 3, 2023

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Restaurants In Recovery

 by guest food writer Leo Mezzrow

It appears that the restaurant-hospitality industry, so

heavily damaged at the height of the pandemic crisis,

is well on its way to recovery.

Some establishments didn't make it, unable to survive

lockdowns, regulations, take-out only restrictions,

lack of employees, rising meat and produce costs,

and lack of customers.

Those which did survive often had to adjust their food

ordering and delivery processes, reduce or alter their

menu choices, raise prices and intensify their

hospitality relationships with customers.

Hesitant at first, diners began to resume earlier habits

of eating out, and returning to favorite restaurants,

as well as try out the many new bistros which opened


The latter is one of the most positive signs of the

dining-out renewal, with many restaurateurs who had

closed opening new dining rooms. Several closed

facilities also reopened with new owners and different

menu identities.

Many upscale restaurants, previously employing

traditional table service, adapted to self-service

ordering, and employing fewer wait and kitchen


The most visible change, from the diner’s point of

view, has been of course, menu prices which in 

many cases exceeded the general inflation in other

retail industries. This inevitably has caused diners,

especially older ones, to stay home more often, or

to abandon previous favorites which had become

too expensive.

As I said previously, the opening of new restaurants

has been a positive sign of dining out recovery. Using

the Twin Cities in Minnesota as an illustration, here are

some examples. Although parts of Minneapolis are

still suffering, especially in central downtown and 

Uptown, the periphery of downtown where new condo

and apartment construction has taken place, is

enjoying a restaurant boom. The North Loop near the

Mississippi River now has Tullibee, an upscale 

Scandinavian restaurant (in the Hewing Hotel) serving

breakfast, weekends brunch, lunch and dinner. Valet

and on-street parking on Washington Avenue North.

Going south, The Canopy Hotel features two fine

restaurants, its own Umbra, serving a daily buffet

breakfast, lunch, happy hour and dinner. Umbria has

two menus all day, including a menu that features

cassoulet, alligator, octopus, lamb sliders and unusual

flatbreads. The latter are half price at happy hour in

the bar area. Across a beautiful lobby is Chloe, a fine

French restaurant created by a veteran Gallic chef,

serving dinner only, and soon a Sunday brunch.

On-street parking on South 3rd Street near the Viking


Back in the North Loop area, three promising upscale

restaurants are under construction within a few blocks

of each other and Tullibee. One is an Argentine

churrascaria, another is French and a third is Basque,

each operated by top well-known local chefs. In the

same area, three high-end dining rooms are already

open, one of them in the new Four Seasons Hotel.

All of these restaurants, are or will be, quite pricey,

although both Tulibee and Umbra are less so.

Across the river in the East Hennepin commercial

neighborhood, a number of new restaurants have 

opened, including an outstanding southern Indian

restaurant, Curry Corner, and All Saints, featuring

innovative cuisine. On-street parking on East 

Hennepin Avenue.

Over in St, Paul, a number of new ethnic bistros

have opened in neighborhoods outside downtown.

Kalsada is a Filipino restaurant with an authentic

menu. Estelle serves an upscale continental menu

dinner only. Both have on-street parking.

Although I can’t guarantee it for others, I have had 

very good experiences at each of the named new

restaurants above. They range from moderate pricey 

to very pricey. Each one seems to be doing good 

business, and they are are only a fraction of new 

Twin Cities restaurants.

I believe the Twin City experience js being duplicated

in cities across the nation. Next time, I will write about

new restaurants which offer good but less pricey meals.


Copyright (c) 2023 by Leo Mezzrow. All rights reserved.

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