A new destination eatery for St. Paul? Long-awaited lakeside pavilion restaurant opens

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The long-awaited restaurant in the lakeside pavilion at Como Park is opening Friday, and it's hoped it will become a new destination eatery for St. Paul.

The Pioneer Press reports that Como Dockside opens for business at 4 p.m., offering New Orleans-inspired food and patio seating by the scenic Como Lake.

Co-owner Jon Oulman previously told the newspaper that work on the eatery will continue throughout the summer as improvements continue to be made to the pavilion, which will include new paving, landscaping, and the addition of bocce ball courts.

MPR reports that St. Paul officials want the city's park food offerings to replicate the success of lakeside eateries like Sea Salt and Tin Fish in Minneapolis, which draw big numbers during the summer.

Last year the city brought the curtain down on the former tenant, cafe and coffee shop Black Bear Crossings.

Oulman, who also co-owns the 331 Club in Minneapolis and Amsterdam Bar and Hall, told MPR that the next few weeks will be a "long soft opening" as it "tweaks and tones" the eatery, getting its lunch and dinner offerings sorted before opening for breakfasts and coffee.

The opening brings an end to a turbulent period for the pavilion, with the City having to pay out a settlement of $800,000 to Black Bear Crossings after demanding the cafe double, then triple its revenue to $500,000 and $750,000 before refusing to extend its lease, the Star Tribune reports.

MPR notes that the new restaurant will have a 200-person picnic area nearby, and that a concession stand carrying "grab-and-go" food is expected to be open by Memorial Day.

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