Midwestern fare (and a livable wage) at Seward Co-op Creamery

Chicken & kimchee rice bowl

Chicken & kimchee rice bowl

The beautiful and expansive Seward Co-op now has a beautiful and expansive restaurant right down the street. Seward Co-op Creamery is a growth move for the cooperative, providing a new way for the organization to showcase product, offer a natural way to utilize produce seconds, and give shoppers inspiration for ways to treat the entire Seward pantry.

"Anyone can probably walk into the store and buy some chuck and a carrot and make a pot roast, and it's probably going to taste pretty good," says chef Lucas Almendinger, formerly of Third Bird. "But here we really want to showcase ideas and technique and do what I think of as Midwestern cuisine — food that I really love to eat." 

The daytime menu is casual — a French Dip, a towering turkey club requiring jaw unhinging, an elegant chicken and kimchi rice bowl with fried chicken and poached eggs. Almendinger will try to "push and refine things" at night, and try to cook beyond typical French technique and take inspiration from Southern cuisine, Mexican, and even Asian.

The space is open and airy with plenty of natural light and a versatile service model — counter service during the day, and a more elegant full service at night. 

In a progressive move, the Creamery has done away with tipping, choosing instead to pay front-of-house employees a living wage. Menu prices do reflect the move, and may register a little higher than similar dishes at comparable establishments. Almendinger says they're still trying to establish an effective way to communicate the shift in the standard restaurant gratuity model to their customer base. If a diner still wishes to leave a gratuity, it will be donated to a charitable organization. 

The chef says one of the highlights the job is taking advantage of the vegetable seconds program and the inherent repository for them in his kitchen. "We've got people going hungry in this country, and yet massive amounts of produce typically winds up in the dump because it's not as pretty as people want to see it on the shelf. Food shelves don't take perishable product. But we can use it here." 

See how they're using this, and lots more. Now open. 

7 a.m.-10 p.m., Mon.-Fri.

8 a.m.-10 p.m., Sat. & Sun.

2601 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis