While closing and relaunching a restaurant under the same ownership is a fairly drastic step, the feedback from Seward co-op members and the community was loud and clear: It had to be done.
"We pride ourselves on being very reactive to customer feedback," says Katie Nielson, the new executive chef for Seward Co-op Cremery Cafe. "And it was clear that our customers were feeling disconnected to what we were doing."
Seward Co-op Creamery version 2.0 opens on September 12, but we got a sneak peek of what they'll be offering on the plate and beyond.
You know how the place was called Seward Co-op Creamery, an homage to its history as a 1920's dairy plant? But then you walked in and there were no obvious signs of ice cream? That will change. A prominent case of Sonny's Ice Cream offering six hand-dipped flavors will be at the ready, along with two flavors of Nielson’s handmade soft-serve.
Nielson was the sous chef under former exec Lucas Almendinger, and the decision to put her in the lead was an obvious and seamless one. She was also lead pastry chef for Seward, baked goods being one of the items that the cafe was getting right. Grab-and-go items will be another prominent feature of the new space-- something that had been overlooked the first time around.
While the physical space will change, including warmer paint colors, sound attenuation to ease conversation, and a closer branding with Seward, the most notable changes will be on the plate.
“The biggest word is 'approachable,'" says Nielson. "When you ordered before, what arrived was something looking almost artistic. But now, if you order a curry, it looks like a curry. If you order plantains and hummus, you’ll get plantains and hummus.”
The culinary offerings will also reflect more cultural diversities, including more Latin- and Asian-inspired dishes like chilaquiles, a stir-fry, and those plantains, as well as plenty of options for vegetarian and vegan diners.
Somewhat surprisingly, they'll continue with the no-tipping model, which for some (including yours truly) resulted in a bit of sticker shock. But after many talks with community, they came to the conclusion that equitable wages for all staff was an imperative. However, the service model will revert to straight counter service style (rather than table service at night, as was previously the case).
The restaurant will also make a concentrated effort to provide education on vendors, especially micro-vendors that are too small to appeal to the grocery side of the business, but will be perfect for the restaurant.
"We're putting our best foot forward, and we're anxious to get community feedback," was Nielson's final message.
Check them out on September 12 for their big relaunch.
Seward Coop Creamery Cafe
2601 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis