The Minneapolis dining scene has changed in recent years, according to Gavin Kaysen—a Minnesota native and one-time winner of the James Beard Rising Star Chef Award for running the kitchen at Daniel Boulud’s Cafe Boulud in New York City. Local operators are thinking beyond local specialties like fry bread and the Juicy Lucy (a cheeseburger with the cheese mixed into the ground meat), hatching ideas that make the city a leader rather than a follower. But these menu shifts aren't the only areas of innovation. Operators are implementing service and design ideas that could apply beyond their four walls.
Here’s a look at three.
1. Continued staff education
When Kaysen returned to his Minnesota roots and opened high-end Spoon and Stable in Minneapolis, he brought in programs to make his staff feel valued. As part of an ongoing education and betterment program, Spoon and Stable employees are required to do a book report once a month. The book of choice can be on any topic that the staffer finds interesting, with the goal of helping his team further their knowledge on topics that intrigue them.
2. Instagrammable walls
Warehouse-style spaces have a tendency to be really loud, with noise bouncing off the cement walls and high ceilings. To combat this in its lofty private-events space, located above the main dining room, The Bachelor Farmer covered its walls in crocheted patchwork squares. Not only do the squares provide some colorful and funky decor, they make for an Instagrammable space—most diners whipped out their smartphone cameras to snap pics right when they walked in, debating which squares were their favorites.
3. Sweet appreciation
As a symbol of appreciation, Spoon and Stable servers provide each table with a tin of cookies, brownies and other sweet bites before dropping the check. The tins are different shapes and sizes, a nod to the cookie tins Kaysen’s grandmother used to give to friends and relatives. The no-charge small desserts are a surprise for first-time diners.