A Twin Cities restaurant — that will also feature craft cocktails and a full wine menu — wants to be known for exceeding expectations in customer service and quality of menus for the price.
Kitchen and Rail will open to the public in Eagan on Aug. 16.
Victor Salamone, a longtime resident of the area, will be opening the craft cocktail and dining spot alongside Joe Newhouse in the Shoppes at Promenade shopping center.
"The idea behind it started with a question: How do we bring a Minneapolis-quality restaurant to the suburbs?" Newhouse told Bring Me The News. "Eagan is starting to get some good restaurants but historically has had a lot of chain [restaurants] and fast casual. The seventh-largest city in Minnesota is pretty underserved in that regard."
Newhouse says the menu will be a "pit master's take on an eclectic mix of global flavors."
The menu will feature filet mignon sandwiches, crispy duck, lamb lollies, Vietnamese pork belly, pig wings, an assortment of salads, cauliflower burnt ends, and "Classic Nana's Meatballs." The Italian balls of meat come from an inspiration that started with Salamone's father, who once owned a restaurant called Victorio's in Milwaukee.
"His family has a lot of experience in the restaurant industry. They're an old Sicilian family, so we're bringing in Nana's Meatballs," Newhouse said. "They take a lot of time so it's probably the not easiest item to have on the menu but it's definitely something that will be made with love."
Salamone and Newhouse met while working at MATTER, a Twin Cities nonprofit, and have known each other for about six years.
"It started as a passion project turned into a full blown restaurant," Newhouse said, adding that this is the first time he's dipped his toes into the restaurant industry but Salamone has "all the experience."
Salamone worked with Dave Anderson, who owned three Famous Dave's stores at the time. Of course, it's a lot more famous now with more than 200 restaurants nationwide. He also worked at Crave and ran operations there before coming to MATTER, where he met Newhouse.
Newhouse says this has always been Salamone's dream to open his own restaurant, so he decided to help out in making that dream come true.
Kitchen and Rail will be an open kitchen concept. Its menu is designed by Charlie Torgerson, who is most known for his work in developing recipes for, as well as being an executive chef, at Famous Dave's.
"Charlie also worked with Victor and Dave, helping Dave take his recipes and make it into something that could be franchisable and scalable," Newhouse said.
Torgerson also owns a barbecue truck and has a spot at the Minnesota State Fair called Charlie T's, which used to be the former Famous Dave's spot. Torgenson helped create a "protein-forward" menu for Kitchen and Rail, but Newhouse says the eatery shouldn't be classified as a barbecue restaurant.
Newhouse said he and Salamone wanted to make sure customers and get in and out, which is important for suburban families who are on the go and may not have time for the full dining experience.
"It allows many with different schedules to pop by," he said. "Whether it's a bite to eat and happy hour, a full meal, or an after dinner drink and appetizer situation, it's going to be pretty versatile to people's schedules."
In addition, the establishment will offer a full, proprietary wine menu. The wine is sourced primarily from California's central coast. The wine will be brought in under Victorio's name. What's more, the wine will be on tap, both on reserve and cask level.
"Outstanding wines at an incredible price," Newhouse noted.
The restaurant will also feature a cellar, where hard-to-get wines will be available for purchase.
"You will be able to get these unattainable wines by the glass, as a self-preservation system allows us to offer that. No where else does it like that," he said.
Then there's the craft cocktails. The cocktail menu is designed by Stefan Van Voorst, who received training from Attaboy in Nashville.
"We were really lucky to have [Van Voorst] craft the menu out. He's just a cocktail fanatic," Newshouse said.
Van Voorst is also responsible for the same duties at The Break Room, a Monday night cocktail lounge located within Machine Shop near Nicollet Island. Newhouse said Van Voorst is also going to be opening a new Minneapolis restaurant called Public Domain this fall.
When it comes to the atmosphere, the restaurant will have vinyl playing, a pink buffalo head on the wall, wine casks on the wall, a butterfly-shaped bar, and a variety of seating options that include a 12-foot long community table; which was made from a 109-year-old walnut tree by a sawmill in southern Minnesota.
Kitchen and Rail will also donate a percentage of revenue back to community organizations and causes.
"Being that Victor and I have a history in working in nonprofits, giving back is something that's important to us... we've seen the example that businesses can have in the community of what can happen when you use a business as a force for good," Newhouse said.