The latest neighborhood-tailored cafe from the prolific Blue Plate Company just opened in a former Hollywood Video near the corner of Franklin and Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis. At the heart of the hip Uptown neighborhood, at the edge of Kenwood, the Wedge, and the rest of the electric enclaves that stitch together that famous neighborhood, the new restaurant leans forward and takes some style cues looking back. The smooth blond, cherry wood and sleek burnished metal lettering evoke the art deco style of the departed Uptown Bar. A blue gas light fireplace greets guests, and the etched concrete floor echoes the clicks of expensive heels. A sleek bar welcomes the thirsty, a stretch of comfortable booths seem set for family meals, and a rare, quiet, and bus-fume-free patio beckons in the back.
We met with owner Stephanie Shimp for a recent sunny morning breakfast, provided by the restaurant, to talk about their newest venture.
How is the Lowry different than the other Blue Plate restaurants?
It's a little edgier. We try to tailor each restaurant to the neighborhood that they're in. This is a little more Uptown, the menu has a little hint of gastro-pub--although this isn't a gastropub. It's just ... edgier. Like the soundtrack.
Mason Jennings was playing first and now the Flaming Lips--awesome.
Yeah, I was here last night, and I just kept singing, it makes me so happy. David [Burley, Shimp's partner in the Blue Plate Company] came up with the soundtrack. Girl Talk, Elliot Smith... I think it's all what's on his iPod.
We wanted to get into Uptown for a long time. It's fun to have more of a bar. We have the small bar at Longfellow, a larger one in Edina, and this has a full bar. Families can still come here and be comfortable, as well as the apartment dwellers and hipsters.
What about an abandoned video store as a building appealed to you?
Location is important, it's better to have location and accessibility as a draw than a fully operational restaurant to walk into. A lot of times we end up pouring money into the renovations, that's just part of the deal. What we look for is somewhere with complementary businesses. I just love the block with the salon, Sebastian Joe's, and Patina. Patina has to think we're following them around town. And Liquor Lyle's has been a great neighbor.
Tell us more about the bar. It's only 10:30 a,m, and already there are a few seats filled, a couple beers poured.
Jeff Rogers is our cheif bartender guy. He did the cocktail list, chose the spirits, did the training. We're not Bradstreet--we're not making all our own bitters and all that. We're doing classic cocktails. Trying to take everything up a notch, but still make it accessible and approachable. This is a neighborhood place, not something for only special occasions.
How late will the kitchen be serving food?
We're open every day from 6:30 to 2 a.m. The kitchen is open until 1 a.m. We also have happy hours, 3 to 6 p.m. as well as a late night, with a smaller late-night menu.
We also have a new app that launched this morning for all the Blue Plate restaurants. You can download it and it will let you access maps to the restaurants, menus, and allow users access to special discounts and loyalty rewards.
What has chef Dustin Pallansch added to the menu?
Dustin's been with Blue Plate for two years now. He came to us from the Strip Club in St. Paul. He has a great attention to detail and has been able to source some ingredients locally. A lot of things are made from scratch. He's contributed several items to the menu.
Part 2, tomorrow: a first look at the food