The Lowertown real estate that was most recently home to Octo Fishbar is getting a new tenant. Soon.
Saturday is the opening night for Bullvino's (289 E. 5th St., St. Paul, 651-493-3397, bullvinos.com). The Brazilian steakhouse is the work of Marcio Demorais and Nathan Uherka, who are partners in Grill Hall Churrascaria (9695 63rd Av. N., Maple Grove, 763-999-5918, grillhallusa.com).
"We have lots of customers coming from the St. Paul area, and so we wanted to come to them," said Uherka. "We're looking forward to building relationships on the other side of the city."
The format is familiar to anyone acquainted with the popular Fogo de Chao chain: For a flat price ($44.95), diners can feast on a dozen cuts of beef, lamb, pork and chicken, sliced from skewers that servers carry around the dining room. For $54.95, diners can add four prime meats.
Seating capacity has been boosted to 175 — plus another 30 at the bar — and a salad bar ($24.95 for the salad bar-only option) has been installed. The kitchen now boasts two giant Brazilian-made rotisserie grills, with a capacity of cooking 120 skewers of meat at a time. The lower level has been redesigned for bar overflow seating.
The space — the restaurant wraps around the atrium of a six-story, 119-year-old former shoe factory — has a long been a Twin Cities dining destination. It had been home to Sawatdee for nearly 20 years when chef Lenny Russo transformed it into Heartland in 2010. That landmark farm-to-table operation closed in December 2016, and chef Tim McKee moved in his Octo Fishbar the following year. McKee closed the seafood restaurant last July.
Initial hours will be 5 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5 to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 4 to 8:30 p.m. Sunday.
It's no accident that Uherka and Demorais chose to sign a lease across Broadway Street from CHS Field, home of the St. Paul Saints baseball team.
"The stadium is a big draw for us, and we're big fans," said Uherka. "The hours will change when there are games."