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Third Bird Chef to Lead New Seward Co-op Cafe

Executive Chef Lucas Almendinger is moving on from Third Bird to lead the kitchen at Seward Co-op's new cafe.

As Seward Co-op expands its reach from retail to restaurant, it’s recruited a chef adept at applying expert technique to simple flavor profiles.

Lucas Almendinger will join the Seward team June 1 as executive chef of the Co-op Creamery café, leaving Kim Bartmann’s Third Bird restaurant, which he helped open last August in the Loring Park neighborhood of Minneapolis.

“We’re very excited to have Lucas on board at the Co-op Creamery as we return the building to its original use,” says Chad Snelson, Co-op Creamery production manager, in a statement. “He has built an incredible portfolio of work across the Twin Cities and will bring a unique perspective and talent to the Seward neighborhood." 

Almendinger (a 2014 FSN Top Chef) got his start at W.A. Frost in St. Paul, working under Leonard Anderson and later Wyatt Evans, and then building his resume at Haute Dish and Tilia. He led the transition from Union to Union Fish Market for Kaskaid Hospitality (now The Workshop at Union) in downtown Minneapolis before helping Bartmann launch Third Bird. He’ll now build a menu of local fare at the Co-op Creamery, set to open in late July.

Part of the co-op’s $3.5 million renovation of the Franklin Creamery building at 2601 East Franklin Ave., where new bakery and meat production areas will also reside, the café will have counter service, pour wine and beer and have seating for about 50 people.

“We’ve always talked about diversifying and how can we get good food out to people,” marketing manager Tom Vogel told Foodservice News earlier this year. The café will serve to extend the co-op’s commitment to local, sustainable food and further support its producers and farmers through increased purchasing. “Plus, we’ll expose a new group of people to the cooperative,” Vogel added.

Work is also underway at Seward’s second full-service co-op, the Seward Co-op “Friendship Store,” set to open this fall at the former site of the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church at the corner of 38th Street and 3rd Avenue in Minneapolis. 

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