The gas station formerly home to Liberty Frozen Custard at 54th and Nicollet is about to look a whole lot greener. The owners of nearby Tangletown Gardens are ready to open a new restaurant there in May called Wise Acre Eatery, with outdoor garden seating and a lush indoor atmosphere.
"It's sort of our mission to make everything across the street as beautiful and green as possible," said co-owner Scott Endres.
The restaurant concept is "farm-to-table," Endres said, and the produce will come from his farm in Plato, Minn.[jump]
It's the same farm that is supplying 500 people with community supported agriculture boxes this summer, and it's the farm that has grown most of Tangletown Gardens' plants for nine years.
The food will range from grass-fed beef burgers and hand-cut fries to seasonal salads.
"We like the idea of very great, casual, everyday food," Endres said.
The restaurant will open at 7 a.m. each morning to offer coffee, bakery goods, and bag lunches to commuters. Liberty's old express window will stay open on summer nights, but the frozen custard served there is a new recipe using the farm's dairy products, seasonal flavors and a notable absence of corn syrup.
"This neighborhood is chock full of families; it's a great melting pot," Endres said. "People can come for custard at night or sit down with friends for a glass of wine."
Endres and co-owner Dean Engelmann snagged local Lucia's alumni Beth Fisher and Caroline Glawe for the restaurant operation. Fisher managed the kitchen at Lucia's for over a decade. Glawe previously managed Lucia's Wine Bar and handled beer and wine programs at other restaurants, including Bobino and Zeno.
Endres promises a sustainable operation, starting with organic fertilizers and ending with restaurant compost that goes right back to the farm.
Endres said that when he and Engelmann learned the Liberty owners wanted to close down, they decided to start a "new chapter on the corner."
"The timing was right to give our farm a little bit of a storefront," he said.