Hold on to your yachts, western suburbs, because one of Minneapolis and St. Paul's most beloved and esteemed chefs has joined forces with one of its most renowned general managers to open a beefy bistro with a view in the old NorthCoast space overlooking the Boatworks docks and Lake Minnetonka beyond them.
JP Samuelson, of course, was the veteran of New York City’s Bouley and Danube who returned to his native Midwest to open the dearly departed, and still lamented, jP American Bistro, which was felled by the deadly combo of that once endless road closure of Lyndale and the Great Recession.
Samuelson's been hiding his light at Figlio lately, but suddenly jumped ship after being approached by Randy Stanley. Stanley is well known in restaurant circles as he was the general manager who helmed Manny’s for some 20 years, raising it from a mere start-up to the see-and-be-seen mover’s and shaker’s place we know it as now.
“He’s a legendary chef, and I’m a legendary ass-kisser,” Stanley told me, laughing. "A legendary chef does need a legendary ass-kisser to really succeed, and a legendary ass-kisser can’t get far without a legendary chef.”
And that’s more or less the logic behind the new restaurant 6 Smith. Think of it as a reverse mullet; a party up front and all business in the back. This team of titans plans to open this spring in the old NorthCoast space on the edge of downtown Wayzata, with 180 degree water views right on the lake.
Oh, and the space will be stunning. Stanley and his wife Dee have totally gutted it to allow for a massive new industrial-chic spot with 220 seats inside, 130 on the vast water view rooftop deck, and another 70 outside on the patio. And all that’s to say nothing of the diners who can be serviced on the restaurant’s boat-slips, where Samuelson and Stanley have plans for a menu of seafood- and sandwich-platters to-go for the boating crowd.
Speaking of the menu, what’s the thinking? Beef and plenty of it, mainly, but not particularly the premium corn-fed cuts Manny’s is known for. Instead, the restaurant will focus mainly on heritage beef and pork, and the lesser valued cuts of those, like hanger steak and bavette (a French way of getting extra steaks from what Americans sometimes call the flap cut.)
Affordable beef, with a view, folks! And a new burger contender? Could be. There will also be dayboat fish, lots of vegetables, and a fair amount of gluten-free menu items. They might even go head to head with Butcher & the Boar and throw a cheffy hot dog into the ring. The menu is designed for all-day service (lunch, dinner, happy hour, grazing, the works) and even a special rooftop burger shack designed to run over the summer.
As for drinks, the plan is extensive with a robust offering of fancy cocktails, local micro-brewery beer, a wine list with a focus on West Coast mom-and-pop vintners, and bourbon.
“When I first thought of JP, I immediately thought: No way, I’m not going to get him out here to the suburbs, are you kidding me? I must have caught him on a good day,” Stanley says.
“This literally happened last week, for me, at this point in my life, it’s a dream come true,” Samuelson says. “There are few people who I would jump at the chance to work with, but Randy Stanley is one of those people.”
Yes, it’s a beefy love-fest on Lake Minnetonka right now, but come this spring all these good vibes could actually turn into something really special. Opening date? Start shopping for stylish new sun hats, folks, because if all goes well you’ll have a new place to wear them by Memorial Day.
I'll leave you with a few more of Katherine Harris's images of the resto-to-be: