Well the cat is out of the bag and the lease has been signed! For months there has been scuttlebutt amongst industry scamps, people reporting that there had been movement in the grand old former La Belle Vie space, but lips were tight as to whom. I'd heard that there was an established restaurateur who had been courted by the building's resident owners and they were excited for the lease to be signed.
His plans follow what a lot of us had been hoping for the space. That spectacular bar area will be known as the 510 Lounge and be the focal point, open at night serving craft cocktails and wine along with food, let's call them social plates, "I want to have a really insane cheese and charcuterie menu, plus things like oysters, grilled sardines, beef tartare, ceviches; things that you can all have gathered on a table while drinking and hanging out with your friends," Saunders told me. There will also be a signature burger that anchors the menu, and if you've had the best locally luxe burger at Kenwood, you know they got game, "I love that Kenwood burger but I'm really excited to do something different from that, something new and signature for 510. I don't know what it will be yet, but I have a few ideas, it's going to be fun."
The formal dining rooms will become event spaces, used exclusively for private parties, weddings, anniversary dinners, corporate dinners, and the like. Brilliant, these days that's what should be happening in those rooms. "This is one thing I don't have at Kenwood, and there's a HUGE need for it. We get so many requests we just can't take because of space over there. I'm very ready to be able to say yes to spring rehearsal dinners and such." Obviously the menu for those special gatherings will be much more extensive. If you're getting married next year, I'd give them a call now and get on the info list. Saunders' cooking goes way beyond just burgers and cheese plates, he cut his chops at Vincent and La Belle Vie, and had developed a loyal following for his south Minneapolis restaurant In Season (which is now Red Wagon Pizza) before closing it to focus on The Kenwood.
The space will remain largely as it is, fireplace and chandeliers will be left intact, with Jim Smart (who also did Kenwood) coming on board to add some final signature touches. Meanwhile, let's all hope that the road construction clears up in that area and plan a return trip to the 510 sometime next summer.