Chef Landon Schoenefeld electrified local food-lovers last November when the new Bulldog restaurant in northeast Minneapolis unveiled his gastronomic take on good old American bar food.
Food critics gushed over his truffle oil fries, Wagyu burgers, and sumptuous steak tartare. Just last month, our own Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl declared Schoenefeld's concoctions "the best bar food ever." By all accounts, the 25-year-old was the best new chef in town.
So why did the Bulldog fire him?
According to one Bulldog employee close to the situation, it all came down to a dispute over salad dressing.
On the evening of Thursday, March 29, in the middle of the Bulldog's busy dinner rush, a bartender asked Schoenefeld for a salad with dressing on the side, per a customer's request, according to our sources.
Schoenefeld—known for working 20-hour shifts and harboring the kind of short temper common among kitchen workers—was unwilling to compromise the salad's presentation. An argument ensued. That's when Schoenefeld went for the mustard.
It's fitting that a place known for its unconventional bar food would be the site of an unconventional bar fight, and this was it. Schoenefeld, armed with a full mustard bottle, doused the bartender (and several nearby customers). A second bartender then physically threatened Schoenefeld.
Owner Matt Lokowich fired all three on the spot. Schoenefeld's friend and co-worker Erik Emery, a onetime sous-chef at Restaurant Levain, has been appointed head chef.
"We didn't want to lose momentum, and we didn't," Bulldog co-owner Chris Rowland says. "Morale is back up."
No word yet on Emery's salad dressing policy. —Chuck Terhark
Whiskey A Go Go
Congratulations, consumers of fine whiskey, for you have proven yourselves to be the best of your breed.
This week, the Local Irish Pub in downtown Minneapolis was recognized for selling more Jameson Irish Whiskey than any other bar in the world.
"Traditionally, one would think the top-selling Jameson account would be in a city with a huge Irish-American demographic like New York or Boston," says Larry Neuringer, Jameson's brand director. "But this year, the Local far surpassed those cities, and many others."
Though Minneapolis's Irish population is a wee 6.9 percent, the Local managed to beat out not only all other bars in America, but also bars actually in Ireland. In total, the Local poured about 12 bottles of Jameson a day last year— be it over ice, into shots, or mixed in coffee.
So why is the Local ground zero for whiskey guzzling?
"I think the long winter months have something to do with it, but also—we focus on serving it, to be quite honest," Irish-born co-owner and manager Kieran Folliard says. "Plus, we're an Irish pub in a landmark location. We're in the heart of downtown."
If last month's St. Patty's Day celebration is any indicator, the Local should have no problem holding onto its championship belt. —Jessica Armbruster
Moorhead resident Gary Atherton seems to have a fetish for combining America's two favorite pastimes: getting naked and receiving mail.
A female letter carrier witnessed Atherton on two occasions late last fall entering his garage naked while the door was open. In January, as the carrier approached the mailbox, the garage door opened, with Atherton once again performing his one-man Full Monty. Then again in February, Atherton came strolling out of the garage's side door wearing nothing but a pair of tennis shoes.
The 54-year-old has been charged with a gross misdemeanor count in Clay County District Court. Sticking close to his garage, however, seems like a bit of progress, as his rap sheet includes a 1994 guilty plea to indecent exposure after he was caught sitting in his vehicle exposing himself near a Fargo middle school.
If the sicko keeps this up, the next package he receives will be in prison. —Corey Anderson
Bridge to Nowhere
Ever since the Lowry Avenue Bridge was closed for a lengthy round of renovations, neighborhood gadfly Leslie Davis has been hectoring Hennepin County officials for information about the particulars.
The tab for the project was considerable. Between 2003 and 2005, approximately $3.8 million was spent on rehabbing the historic structure, which crosses the Mississippi River and connects north Minneapolis to northeast.
"Seemed like a lot of money for painting," complains Davis, an environmental activist and perennial political candidate.
While the bridge reopened to traffic about two years ago, Davis's ire over the project was revived recently by an unexpected development: The county announced that it now plans to demolish the bridge in two years.
Estimated cost of the replacement: $30 to $35 million.
"Everyone talks about reduce, repair, recycle, and here they want to tear down a perfectly good bridge," says Davis. "This is a classic kind of structure, the type of thing that should be preserved."
Indeed, with its stately steel truss design, the old bridge is a handsome specimen. It is also the object of considerable local affection—and one persistent joke. While the bridge extends less than 900 feet as it crosses the Mississippi River, local wags call it "the longest bridge in the world" because it connects Africa (the largely black North Side) to Poland (historically white ethnic Northeast).
According to Jake Bronder, an engineer with Hennepin County, there are some very practical reasons for demolition. During the recent rehab work, engineers discovered that one of the piers on which the bridge sits had shifted about 11 inches, requiring the fabrication of new bearings.
Additionally, Bronder says, heavy truck traffic has exacted a toll on the steel deck's surface. Though the it was replaced just two years ago, the grate now requires welding repairs on a bimonthly basis.
"It shouldn't, but it does," Bronder says.
Bottom line: The county is now sifting through proposals for a replacement. —Mike Mosedale
Last week, the Transportation Security Administration proudly announced the capture of Luis Acevedo, a Mexican illegal immigrant who was caught at the local airport brazenly attempting to board a flight... to Mexico City.
A TSA officer trained to look for suspicious behavior is responsible for blowing the whistle. Acevedo is now in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, awaiting a flight to either Laredo or El Paso, says Tim Counts, an agency spokesman.
But unlike his original ticket, this time Acevedo's flight to Mexico will be courtesy of U.S. taxpayers. —Jonathan Kaminsky