Skip to main content

St. Paul restaurant that led the farm-to-table scene is closing

Heartland Restaurant and Wine Bar in St. Paul is closing after 14 years. They were a leader in the farm-to-table scene in the Twin Cities.
  • Author:
  • Updated:

A restaurant that was a leader in the farm-to-table movement in Minnesota is closing.

In a heartfelt letter on its website, Heartland Restaurant and Wine Bar in St. Paul said it will celebrate 14 years of business this month, but at the end of December, they will be serving guests for the last time.

According to the post, Heartland is closing because the property has been sold to a private investor, with chef and co-owner Lenny Russo telling the Star Tribune they are not being forced to sell.

"The restaurant is closing because we’re done, and we want to do other things. I’m 58. I don’t have any peers my age. They’re all much younger than me. It’s time," Russo told the paper.

The announcement on the restaurant's website invites long-time guests and those with gift certificates to come and dine before they turn out the lights on New Year's Eve.

They were a pioneer in Minnesota's farm-to-table scene

Russo and his wife Mega Hoehn opened Heartland in 2002 as a small restaurant in the Mac-Groveland neighborhood, the website says, before later relocating to the Lowertown neighborhood in downtown St. Paul, an area Heartland's owners say they are proud to have helped bring back to life.

They focused on local, fresh ingredients with a menu that changed daily based on what they had in stock – an idea that would later become a movement throughout the country, according to Entrepreneur magazine.

Under this philosophy, Heartland went on to earn many awards like "Best New Restaurant" in 2003, "Best Restaurant" multiple years, and other awards for their wine and organic and sustainable food.

And chef Russo has been nominated for six James Beard awards, among many other titles, and his work has inspired other local chefs like Chef Alan Bergo of St. Paul’s Salt Cellar, WCCO said.

Russo also recently wrote his first cookbook called “Heartland: Farm-Forward Dishes from the Great Midwest,” the Pioneer Press said. Profits from the book will be donated to St. Paul’s Urban Roots, an organization that offers food and environmental programs to local youth.

People have been thanking Heartland for their impact on Minnesota's food scene on Twitter, saying they're sad to see it go.

Next Up

Brandon Gardas

St. Michael standoff suspect charged, bail set at $10 million

A judge on Monday set the high bail due to "very significant concerns of public safety" regarding Brandon Gardas.


Minnesota's premier trauma center housed at HCMC

The Minneapolis center is nationally recognized in pediatric trauma

Crisp & Green

Crisp & Green opening 13th store in Twin Cities in July

The fast-casual salad and grains restaurant has exploded onto the food scene.

FLickr - Target Field 2019 - mark grabe

Twins to host post-game concert with country star at Target Field

Country singer Cole Swindell is expected to perform for up to 75 minutes after the conclusion of the Blue Jays-Twins contest.


Canton Restaurant closes after nearly 40 years in Burnsville

It's the end of an era in the Twin Cities restaurant world.

Screen Shot 2022-06-27 at 12.47.20 PM

Luck strikes in Minnesota: lottery winners in Duluth, Grand Marais

The North Shore just so happened to be a lucky place to be this past weekend.


Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Monday, June 27

BA.5 is expected to become the dominant subvariant in Minnesota.

police lights squad car

60-year-old woman arrested after firing shots inside Spicer home

SWAT evacuated nearby residents during the incident.

Florida Georgia Line

Florida Georgia Line booked to play at the Minnesota State Fair

The band is the second country music act to be booked this year.


First case of monkeypox confirmed in Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Health says the risk to the public is "considered low" at this time.

lightning, storm

Isolated severe weather in Minnesota on Tuesday and Wednesday

Definitely not a slam dunk either day, but the chance is there.


Food trucks are out after bar close in Minneapolis, but only for the weekend

They'll be serving up yummy food after bar close all weekend as part of a pilot project.

Update: Surly Brewer's Table is closing

It's the latest casualty in the Twin Cities fine-dining scene.

Update: Surly Brewer's Table is closing

It's the latest casualty in the Twin Cities fine-dining scene.

Yelp says this is the best restaurant in Minnesota

Yelp used an algorithm to determine the best restaurant in each state.

Cool beans: St. Paul is finally getting a Spyhouse Coffee

That's right St. Paul – Spyhouse is crossing the river.

Cool beans: St. Paul is finally getting a Spyhouse Coffee

That's right St. Paul – Spyhouse is crossing the river.