Only weeks after closing its doors, Waconia's Green Room has reopened with new owners and an increased emphasis on locally-grown, farm-to-table food. Now known as Terra Waconia, the restaurant has been taken over by two of its former employees, head chef Craig Sharp and general manager Tracy LeTorneau.
"They did a great deal to educate and inspire the local crowd and we are trying to build on what they began here," Sharp said of the former owners, La Pointe Ouest. "Everything just seemed to align at the right time and place for both [LeTorneau and me] and we felt we had a strong product to bring to the market."
Terra Waconia opened for business on February 10th. Sharp and LeTorneau, who worked together at the Green Room for over two years previously, were approached by the former owners last summer about the possibility of taking over the restaurant. After initial negotiations failed to reach an agreement, the two parties eventually made a deal late in October.
One of the aims of the newly rechristened enterprise is to help promote local business in Waconia. This means narrowing the restaurant's brand while collaborating with other businesses to avoid overlap and serving locally-grown food, including partnerships with Parley Lake Winery and Fox and Fawn Farm. "Hopefully collaboration over competition will serve us well," Sharp says.
Aside from changes to the restaurant's decor, the chief difference between the Green Room and Terra Waconia is the introduction of a chalkboard menu. "We are not a high volume restaurant and we're not trying to be," explains Sharp. While the two menus are similar stylistically, the chalkboard menu means that items change frequently but that those items remain as close as possible to local and seasonal availability.
The staff remains the same as before, with the only addition so far being sous chef Eddie Baron, formerly the executive chef at Duluth's Blackwater Lounge.
Located at 140 Main St. W. in Waconia, Terra Waconia is open for dinner Monday through Saturday, with plans to serve lunch in the future. The restaurant currently opens at 5 pm, with kitchen close at 9 pm Monday through Thursday and 10 pm on Friday and Saturday.