Aug 22, 2022 - Food and Drink

The restaurateurs vying for Lake Nokomis contract

Sandcastle restaurant with Lake Nokomis in the background
Photo courtesy of Sandcastle

Several Twin Cities restaurateurs are trying to win the contract to handle food and beverage service at the Lake Nokomis concessions building.

Flashback: Sandcastle announced it won't return next summer, ending its 10-year run at the coveted spot next to Lake Nokomis Beach.

Why it matters: Park food stands are highly popular and can mean big bucks for vendors.

  • Sandcastle's 2019 revenue was $767,000 and other vendors at park properties each do over $1 million in sales, including Sea Salt, which reported $3.4 million last year.

Who's in the running: Axios obtained a list of restaurateurs through a Park Board data practices request, though the Park Board declined to provide anything more than individual names.

Yes, but: We did some digging and confirmed a handful of restaurateurs and their plans.

  • Jon Wipfli, the owner of the buzzed-about Animales Barbeque truck, is teaming up with Katie Romanski, the owner of MN Nice Cream, Wipfli confirmed. They proposed a combo of barbecue and ice cream.
  • Tii Cup Boba & Taiwanese Street Food, which has several Twin Cities locations, also submitted a proposal, owner Thuy Linh Nguyen confirmed.
  • The owners of Unleashed Hounds & Hops in Minneapolis want to partner with a local ice cream company to operate a full service ice cream shop to go along with craft bar fare similar to Unleashed Hounds. The facility would be dog friendly, but won't be an off-leash dog park like Unleashed, co-owner Sam Carter tells Axios.

Yes, and: Other proposals were submitted by the owners of Jerk Station, a Minneapolis ghost kitchen; Blarney Pub & Grill in Minneapolis; Solomon’s Bakery of New Brighton; and by the GM of Sea Salt Eatery at Minnehaha Falls.

  • None of them could be reached by Axios for comment.
  • Axios could not confirm the backgrounds of several additional applicants.

What's ahead: Staff will present proposals to the Park Board in the fall, a Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board spokesperson told Axios.

MPRB has previously said it wants to execute a contract by Sept. 30 and have the facility available to the new vendor by Jan. 1, with an Apr. 15, 2023 opening.

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