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Acclaimed Mill District restaurant to close after 14-year run

Spoonriver was popular with patrons of the Guthrie Theater.
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An acclaimed Minneapolis restaurant is closing its doors after 14 years in the city's Mill District.

Brenda Langton and husband Tim Kane announced Friday that they will be closing down Spoonriver on Dec. 21.

They opened the restaurant in June 2006 opposite the Guthrie Theater, championing sustainably sourced food and healthy eating that proved a hit with theater-goers and many others.

What will take its place will follow in the same vein, with Langton announcing that their space will be passed on to the Birchwood Cafe, which will launch a new venture with the Minnesota Farmers' Union.

"It’s always hard to say goodbye but after 14 years we are moving on and passing the torch to [the Birchwood and MFU] alliance to continue our legacy," a post on the Spoonriver Facebook page reads.

"Spoonriver has never been just a restaurant. Relationships have always been at the heart of our business," it continues. "Our mission has been to build a healthier community through the meals we serve. Our staff has done that every day and they have been the foundation of our success." 

The efforts of Langton and Kane saw them nominated for the James Beard Foundation's Outstanding Restaurateur award in 2019.

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The Star Tribune described Langton as having been a "powerful force in the Minnesota dining landscape for decades," and will continue to be heavily involved in the Mill City Farmers Market, which she co-founded in 2006.

She opened Cafe Kardamena in St. Paul in 1978, when she was just 21, before operating Cafe Brenda in Minneapolis for 23 years. At Kardamena, she notes her menu featured "locally sourced gourmet vegetarian cuisine and fresh seafood at a time when most Americans were still eating a meat and potatoes diet."

Few details have been released about the Birchwood and MFU collaboration, though the Birchwood said it intends to carry on Langton's legacy "of connecting eaters with the farmers who grow our food!"

The south Minneapolis restaurant and the farming union have notably collaborated at the Minnesota State Fair, where the Birchwood this year provided heirloom tomato BLT sandwiches and a blueberry key lime pie for the MFU stand.

"We’ve been presented with many opportunities in our 24 years in business, but none as special and unique as this," said Birchwood Cafe owner Tracy Singleton. 

"Brenda has always been a role model; by elevating farmers, community and sustainability to our conversations about food, she’s redefined what it means to ‘eat healthy.’ We’re excited to carry on her ethos through our ‘Good Real Food’ and trusted farmer relationships.”

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