via Blue Plate
If all the restaurant closing news makes you sad, here’s some good news, one company is certainly in growth mode. Blue Plate Restaurant Company, owned by David Burley and Stephanie Shimp (pictured above), is about to take it up a notch with two new restaurants and an event center opening this fall. Plus, they’ve bought a farm.
The relaunching of the Scusi space now has a name. Bottle Rocket is pretty much ready to go with a remodeled space, new menu, and full bar with cocktails by Erik Eastman. They’re waiting on liquor licensing which will likely put them at an opening in the Fall (post-Fair). Of the name, Shimp told me “It’s supposed to hearken back to a time when we were all less stressed. When it was more ok to play. That’s what we feel a neighborhood restaurant should feel like, an escape back to easier times and a refuge from the pressures of daily life.”
The new spot will have lunch and dinner daily, with breakfast on the weekends. The menu will be in the comfortable Blue Plate zone, there may be a few crossovers from their other restaurants, but it will have its own identity.
Mercury Dining Room & Rail + Shindig Event Center
Here’s the big secret, they’ve taken over the former Brasserie Zentral/Foreign Legion space in the Soo Line building. Mercury Dining Room & Rail will occupy the BZ space, with a remodel that makes the space brighter and a bit more open. “That kitchen is amazing, so we’re just going to open the space up a bit, give it some modern touches and expand the bar area, hopefully creating a buzzy hustle & bustle to the space. We really want this to be a city neighborhood gathering spot where people in suits can feel good coming, but also the condo dwellers who live above. You know, a guy from an accounting firm should be able to come in and grab an egg salad sandwich or have a meeting and get steak frites if they want.”
So no to fine dining. Mercury will be aiming at more accessible, every-day food made from scratch that includes all-day breakfast. The bar will definitely have a robust happy hour plan with cocktails, wine, and beer. The bar and food menus are currently in the works.
The Foreign Legion space will become Shindig Event Center, not open to the public for general service, but available for booking parties from 25-130 people. “It’s still going to have a bohemian feel with a chic vibe, but we’ll do a little work on it to create a better flow. We want it to be a more versatile space that can handle weddings or meetings.”
Both Mercury and Shindig will open sometime after the Fair.
And because they don’t have enough to do, they’ve bought the farm (sorry, I had to).
Actually it's a 53-acre farm in New Prague. “This is a long term plan, we are working on a 5-10 year scope with this project, but it’s very exciting!” There is a dairy barn on the property, which is mostly planted with corn, but they’ve done soil testing and have found it suitable for hops. “Of course we’ll want to grow various produce, but we’re also looking at having some cattle and hogs on the farm. We’re not planning to abandon all of our suppliers, but it will be nice to have some things at the restaurants that we’ve grown ourselves. Plus it makes sense on lots of levels, like the fact that we’ll be able to compost our spent grains from the brewery.” Long term plans could include an event space, installation of a pizza oven, perhaps even having ag-internships that will help cooks and restaurant people really understand the whole process. Again, 5-10 year planning on this.
Big plans for the local company that currently employs over 600 people. With their Blue Barn at the State Fair taking up a lot of their time this summer, fall will really be the GO-time for all of these projects. Exciting stuff!