Amazing Graze: Elevated Gathering Place in North Loop
General Manager Adam Rosenkrantz shows off the view from the elevated patio, holding one of the upstairs’ bars elevated cocktails. Construction is hopefully wrapping up by the end of September.
It’s easy to buy into the concept of elevated food and cocktails when you’re sitting on Graze Provisions + Libation’s elevated millennial-magnet, second-story patio over looking downtown Minneapolis and a patch of green grass below. Around 6,5000+ people live in the one-square mile radius of the new food hall located at Fifth Avenue and Fourth Street in the shadow Target Field. “It’s the most densely square mile in the area,” said Steve Hance of Number 12 Cider House in the North Loop. “You’d have to go to Chicago to find (a denser square mile of apartments).”
Thanks to a walk-up window for passersby and generous lounge area for freelancers and coffee klatches, Honey and Rye kicks off the day of grazing and gathering.
The trendy neighborhood is home to several breweries, in addition to Number 12 Cider, and their beverages will be featured at the two full bars at Graze. The two-story modern building is home to seven carefully curated food concepts, that all bring something different to the line up.
For instance, GM Adam Rosenkrantz pointed out, the day starts when the window opens and the glass garage doors roll up and Honey & Rye starts serving coffee and pastries. Guests are invited to use the couches and long tables and chairs for working. No one can overstay their welcome, Rosenkrantz said. The concept is about community and “gathering.”
Upstairs are retro shared games like Nintendo, and there are plans for yoga on the lawn, live music and other cool group activities. Outdoor stairs allow dogs easy access to the deck.
At 11 a.m. they’re ready to serve lunch and move on into happy hour and dinner.
The concept was built for newer chefs to get their name and faces out, said Greg Cuda, one of the investors behind the concept. “We did our homework; we met with 30 to 40 chefs” before deciding on the seven who have leases in the building. Each concept hires and runs their food bay as an independent—with benefits.
Concepts include Honey & Rye, Carbon Coal Fired Pit Beef, MidNorth Empanada and Churros, Flagsmash (tacos), Lu Restaurant, Fish Bowl Poké and Soul Bowl. And then there are the bars. “When you have ‘Libations’ in your name, you gotta have something more than gin and tonic,” Rosenkrantz said. The bars, managed by Rosenkrantz and the FWd Hospitality Group, have some twists, such as wine in single-serving cans, batched craft cocktails and local beers and ciders. Jesse Held, who designed Bourough and Parlour’s bar programs, consulted here.
Stephen Trojahn, owner of three Gastrotrucks, has branched out into Maryland-style pit beef sandwiches.
Before opening in Graze, Soul Bowl owners, Brittney and Gerard Klass had been doing pop-ups and catering for two years. Their version of soul food is “approachable and healthy,” Brittney Klass said. It’s plant-based, customizable and quick, featuring both Southern and Caribbean flavors. The food is chef-driven—Gerard is the chef in the family—and “Instagram-worthy,” she said.
Next door, Lu’s Restaurant sports a larger menu than its counterpart in NE Minneapolis, Lu’s Sandwiches. Its version of the popular Vietnamese sandwich, banh mi has morphed into a banh mi burger, with the traditional toppings and French bread bun, said Larry Lopez, an enthusiastic counterperson.
Stephen Trojahn has taken what he learned from his three food trucks, Gastrotruck, and applied it to Maryland-style pit beef with his new concept, Carbon. The delicious sandwiches start with bottom round from Petersen Farms, cooked fairly fast over charcoal that then rests before it’s thinly sliced. There are several varieties, but the traditional one—which Trojahn refers to as their “gateway sandwich—has tiger sauce (horseradish sauce) with picked relish. They also serve an old classic, Whoopie Pie, which is similar to a s’more. “It’s like a campfire back here,” Trojahn said, grinning.
Because they’re located in an apartment-dense area, Rosenkrantz isn’t counting on much drive-by traffic. His hope is to attract walkers from the neighborhood and Uber/Lift users, since the area’s “not a parking paradise,” he said. To add more opening night jitters, Fifth Avenue has been under construction for months, which not only makes it hard to get to, but also provides an aesthetically challenged view.
But on the day we went—a soft opening for the neighbors—everyone was excited and hopeful. When asked how it compares to the media-darling Keg and Case in St. Paul, Cuda said the St. Paul version has more of a market feel. “We don’t want retail,” he said.
The investment group does have plans for other projects, but they won’t duplicate this one elsewhere. “It’s local,” he stressed.
The outside view of the building.
After years of pop-ups, Soul Bowl owners,