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20.21 closing, D'Amico confirmed for Walker Art Center food service

D'Amico ousts Wolfgang Puck from the Walker.
D'Amico ousts Wolfgang Puck from the Walker.

"It's true," says Richard D'Amico, when asked about Heavy Table's anonymous report that his restaurant group would be ousting 20.21 from its prime digs at the Walker Art Center.

D'Amico says he was recently approached by a Walker consultant, along with several other restaurateurs, to be considered as a replacement for the Wolfgang Puck-branded eatery. With a strong track record in providing museum food service--at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Museum of Russian Art, and the Mill City Museum--it's no surprise that D'Amico got the gig. (The D'Amicos must be feeling pretty badass after ousting their second international cheflebrity, having also replaced Jean-Georges Vongerichten's flagging Chambers Hotel restaurant with D'Amico Kitchen in 2009.)

D'Amico shared a few exciting tidbits about what's in store:

The Walker restaurant's pretty patio.
The Walker restaurant's pretty patio.
Michelle Leon

The new restaurant will be named Gather, and primarily a lunch operation offering contemporary American fare, D'Amico says. The more innovative component of the concept will take place during the restaurant's "guest chef" dinners on Thursday nights, when the museum is open until 9 p.m. and offers Target-sponsored free admission.

D'Amico says that each month, a new chef--he named former D'Amico employees Isaac Becker, Doug Flicker, and Seth Bixby-Daugherty, as examples, though there will certainly be other locals featured, including a few current D'Amico chefs--will bring in a new menu and cook some of their specialties to introduce Walker guests to their style of cooking and restaurant. "It'll be all the top chefs in the Cities," D'Amico says. "It's a great way for them to showcase what they do to hook a new audience."

So when will the transition take place? D'Amico suggested that 20.21 would be operating for another two months or so, but deferred the particulars to the Walker. [[Update: The Walker Art Center says the change will be effective April 18.]]

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