Lenny Russo was one of the first local chefs to approach Minnesota fish, flora, fauna, and farm bounty with the religious fervor of an Italian chef.
Russo had the now more widely accepted attitude that whatever is right here, right now, is the best stuff, and produces the best cooking.
The approach served him very well over the past 14 years. That method inspired creations at the first location of his Heartland restaurant, in the Mac-Groveland neighborhood, and carried over when the Heartland operation moved to Lowertown. Russo wrote a cookbook, and he made a very formidable reputation for himself with critical acclaim and countless accolades.
Fourteen years after opening the doors to the original Heartland location on St. Clair Avenue, he announced today that Heartland would be closing the doors to its 26,000-square-foot location in the “uber hip Lowertown neighborhood of downtown St. Paul.”
It is, Russo adds, a neighborhood that he is "proud to say we helped revitalize when we relocated in 2010."
St. Paulites of a certain age can probably say that they never expected to be around long enough to live in a world where Lowertown is referred to as “uber hip." Welcome to that world; a world, sadly, without Heartland.
R.I.P. Heartland, 2002-2016.
Russo says after December 31, he plans to turn the real estate over to a "private investor."
He explains the long lead-up to the closing night:
We are making this announcement now in order to give our many longtime patrons and friends a chance to visit us, as well as to allow those who are currently holding Heartland gift certificates ample opportunity to redeem them, before we turn out the lights on New Year’s Eve.
We wish to express our most heartfelt thanks for all of the love and support that we have been shown, and we hope to see you here.
289 5th St. E., St. Paul