Top restaurateurs vie for lucrative Lake Harriet concessions contract

Will Lake Harriet keep up with the concessions Joneses?
Will Lake Harriet keep up with the concessions Joneses?

With the success of park operators Tin Fish (Calhoun) and Sea Salt (Minnehaha Falls), more local restaurateurs are eyeing the high-profile and potentially lucrative Lake Harriet concessions contract available in 2011. Rodney White holds the existing contract, and his proposal was among 10 others submitted to the city last month, according to the Southwest Journal. The list of bidders includes some of the biggest names in local restaurants, and the prospects look very promising in terms of offering more ambitious fare than the limited options currently available.

The city first opened the Lake Harriet concessions to private bidders in 2001. (Remember the whole flap over the proposed Dairy Queen? I think I even wrote a strongly worded letter to the park board over that one...) The Harriet concessions has a lot of potential due to its iconic location and density of park visitors, and, thus far the lake's food offerings haven't nearly lived up to the potential. Many of the names on this list could change that:

Kim Bartmann (BLB, Barbette, Red Stag) Larry D'Amico (D'Amicos) Steve Brown (most recently of Porter & Frye, opening new spot in Linden Hills) Roger Lund and Greg Jost (Is this the same Roger Lund of Lund Distribution, a gourmet beverage distributor, who had a booth at Taste of MN?) Lowell Pickett (Dakota) Doug Flicker and Jim Andrus (Piccolo) Rajee Aryal (Is this the painter whose husband's family operated Himalayan Chai and now runs Namaste?) Supen Harisson (Sawatdee) Jon Blood (Sea Salt) ZHC (??) Rodney White (current concessions operator)

Interviews with a committee of Park Board staff and community representatives will take place next week. (The group has already requested several changes: expanded food options, while still offering ice cream and popcorn, sustainable practices, affordable prices, and a remodel of the tiny-looking concessions interior.)

After the interviews, the group will narrow the list to two or three and make details of the those options available to the public and name a recommendation to the Park Board. The board will make a decision in September so the vendor can serve by next spring. We'll keep you posted...

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