The owners of the former Khyber Pass Café in St. Paul are joining forces with an accomplished Twin Cities beverage director to bring a new concept for cocktails and dinner to the neighborhood restaurant on Grand Avenue.
Cocktail connoisseur Ralena Young has spent more than 30 years in the hospitality industry, most recently working with Eyes Wide Hospitality on south-of-the-river restaurants such as Whiskey Inferno, Tequila Butcher and Shakopee House, to name a few.
Now, Young is returning to her hometown neighborhood to work with Khyber Pass Café owners Masooda and Emel Sherzad on a new concept, Bar Car Restaurant and Lounge.
"We want a menu for the neighborhood that's just as chef-driven as it is cocktail-driven," Young told the Macalester-Groveland Community Council last month.
Young has known the Sherzad family for years, with Masooda and Emel being her partner's parents. During the neighborhood meeting last month, Young said the COVID-19 pandemic hit Khyber Pass Café hard and there were talks of selling the business after nearly four decades.
That's when Young suggested joining forces and rebranding instead. The concept for Bar Cart, she added, has since been developed over the past six months.
The owners aren't seeking a 2 a.m. liquor license for Bar Cart, but will rather close at 10 p.m. on weeknights and 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
"We want to offer a really beautiful cocktail scene with really well done food — two things to compliment each other," Young said, adding the Sherzads are planning to partner on pop-up menus.
Young said the business plan for the new restaurant will support work-life balance, with 16 employees to be paid no less than $52,000 a year on set-schedules.
Noting a "vibrant, wonderful lunch scene" near the corner of Grand and Snelling avenues, Bar Cart will only offer dinner service, Young said.
The restaurant is set to open sometime next month, according to a liquor license application filed with the city.