Carol March has had a passion for the hospitality business ever since her first job in the industry at Ciatti's in the Galleria. While her career later took a turn into the real estate business, she always dreamed of returning to hospitality. When she toured the historic former home of Woods Chocolate Factory in Lowertown, she knew the time had come. Soon her dream restaurant will be our reality.
The space was last an office and all of the building's historic elements were under cover. Since March took over, the walls have been sandblasted down to the original brick, the drop ceilings have been removed, and the giant green awnings that blocked the windows have been stripped away. Now bright sunlight streams through the massive windows, affording a lovely view of Mears Park.
The restaurant space is split-level. During lunch and dinner, hungry folks can head upstairs to the main kitchen and bar, and in the evening, the basement will operate as a cozy, speakeasy-style space with a separate menu of small bites and cocktails. The upstairs seats 181 while the downstairs area has space for 82 and the sidewalk can fit up to 52 patio seats when the weather cooperates.
In the kitchen will be chef Greg Johnson, a St. Cloud Tech culinary graduate, who has spent time working as Jack Riebel's sous chef at the Dakota, in the original Figlio kitchen, at the first incarnation of Blackbird, and as chef at Palomino. He's also worked in kitchens in San Francisco. Of this project, Johnson says, "Before I even knew about it, this was the project I was looking for."
The menu will be filled with familiar dishes like rotisserie chicken, fresh-made pastas, cured salmon, sliders, and more classics with a modern twist. "All at a nice price point," adds March. "We hope to be a neighborhood spot for everyone who lives in the area."
As a commercial real estate agent, March had originally shown the space to other restaurateurs, until she realized that this was the restaurant she wanted to build. So far, they're on track for a June opening.
Public Kitchen & Bar, website
229 East 6th Street, St. Paul