The northwest corner of 26th Street and Nicollet Avenue is getting a makeover--and a Minneapolis outpost of St. Paul's popular Blue Door Pub may be part of it. The former Cedar Lake Ice & Fuel Co. building is being renovated and Finance & Commerce reports that plans for the 41,000-square-foot space include a Minneapolis location of the indoor climbing gym Vertical Endeavors, a coffee shop, 13 apartments, office space, Thom Pham's recently shuttered Azia, and another as-of-yet unnamed restaurant.
The Hot Dish touched base with Blue Door co-owner Jeremy Woerner to get more details about the restaurant's possible expansion across the river.[jump]
Woerner explained that he and co-owner Patrick McDonough have been looking into expansion possibilities for the past couple of years and occasionally going to look at potential properties and get a sense of the market. They were contacted by the Ice House project's investment group regarding their interest in joining the development and found themselves drawn to the space from both a practical and emotional perspective. "This was the first place we saw where our brains and our guts were in agreement," Woerner says.
Woerner stresses that the project is only in preliminary stages and is still contingent on several major factors, including financing and the specific condition of the space and its renovation needs. So far they've only signed a letter of intent, not a legal contract.
Still, Blue Door does seem serious about opening a west side outpost, and the Ice House may just be the place. Woerner says he and McDonough like the space's historic elements, including exposed brick walls, steel beams, and wood-slat ceiling. "It's a location that really screams 'pub'," Woerner explains. "The patina on it is just great." They envision that the potential new space would be roughly double the size of the original's 48 seats, and have a similar feel with a bar area, booths, and chalkboard menus.
The menu would be comparable to St. Paul's, though likely with more tap lines and a different assortment of the pub's signature Jucy Lucy burgers, or "Blucys." The Ice House building does not have a basement, which could be a limiting factor, Woerner says, based on the scratch-made menu's requirements for significant storage and prep space.
Woerner says they hope to have enough information to make a decision about the project by mid-January. If all goes through, the restaurant could be open by as early as next spring. But he cautions Minneapolis's Blue Door fans not to get ahead of themselves: He and McDonough first need to make sure the expansion would be right for the business. "We've been incredibly busy here in St. Paul," he says. "The last thing we'd ever want to do is have a second place that strains us, the company, and the restaurant."