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A first-of-its-kind food hall, market, and incubator coming to Whittier

The Lynhall is still in "hardhat phase," but will open this summer.

The Lynhall is still in "hardhat phase," but will open this summer. Photo courtesy of The Lynhall Facebook Page

Now that restaurants, bars, and trendy food halls are opening by the week in the Twin Cities, what could you dream up next, dear food lovers?

Perhaps you might like a place to do more dreaming. The Lynhall will be just that: not exactly a restaurant or a bar, not exactly a food hall, not exactly a bakery, or a cafe, but with elements of all of the above plus more. The Lynhall will be a first-of-its-kind place for ideas and for gathering.

Owner Anne Spaeth had long dreamed of a public hall that would create space not just for artisan vendors to make and sell food, but where people are “assessing food and experiencing food as community gathering.”

She said she thought of the symbol of a long community table, and in fact a real-life 16-foot table will anchor the Lynhall space, which is scheduled to open in the Whittier neighborhood of Minneapolis on June 14.

Admittedly, says Spaeth, it’s difficult to envision the place without being there, but once we are, she assures, it will make plenty of sense.

All of the things we need for a happy life will be on-site, including great coffee, beer, wine, and baked goods. But also excellent cooking by Shane Oporto, formerly of La Belle Vie, including rotisserie meats and gorgeous sides for eating there or taking away.

But that is only the beginning. Lynhall is also designed to be a business incubator, where the next big thing in food can go from dream to reality. Applicants (there will be an application process for those interested in taking advantage) will have access to kitchen space, plus assistance with the “learning curve” of bringing food ideas to reality. They’ll also be able to rent time in the on-site television studio. Need a video for social media explaining your product? You can do that here. The Lynnhall will offer an obvious place to sell your product once it comes to market.

But Spaeth is careful to point out that shopping at Lynhall won’t be like walking into Crate & Barrel or Macy’s. Instead, she says the retail will be “embedded” in the overall experience. That plate you’re eating off of might be made by a local potter. The salsa on that plate might have been made by a business incubation participant. And you can have it all to take home with you once you’re finished eating.

Lynhall has also made a commitment to hire a certain number of interns from a culinary program at a local family homeless shelter. People Serving People runs a 13-week culinary training class, mostly for young mothers but also the general public, and Spaeth wants to incorporate it into the concept. “We want to do it not in an exploitative way, but an empowering way,” she says.

There will also be private dining space, which Spaeth describes as being in “someone’s beautiful living room,” with gorgeous fixtures and a fireplace. That private dining space will open to the general public when not in use.

What do you call a place like this? It sounds a bit like a Willy Wonka factory for grown-up food, a crazy wonderland of ideas and togetherness with food at the center. But Spaeth describes it as a “cross-pollinator,” which sounds even better.

In addition to Oporto, she’s brought in pastry chef Katie Elsing, formerly of Icehouse, Dogwood Coffee alum Tyler Lanzi, and former KSTP-TV reporter Eric Gislason for help in the studio and “storytelling.”

Still can’t wrap your mind around it? Good thing we don’t have to wait much longer to see it come alive. Bring your ideas, and grab a seat at the big community table.

Opens June 14
2640 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis
thelynhall.com