Brian and Sarah Ingram have renovated the exterior and interior of the 138-year-old former Cathedral Hill firehouse that had been home to the Happy Gnome for 14 years; the craft beer-centric restaurant closed in December.
Inside, they peeled back six layers of drywall and paneling, removed five layers of carpet and tile to reveal the original floor and uncovered windows to let in more natural light.
“It was important to us to get back to the bones of the building and show off some of its history,” said Brian Ingram. “We really wanted to showcase that it was an old firehouse.”
Upstairs in the beer hall, they installed a $6,000 find from Facebook Marketplace: the floor of a high school gymnasium that they hauled back in a U-Haul trailer from its original home, 120 miles to the north.
“I love repurposing and reusing stuff, and giving old stuff new lives,” said Brian Ingram. “It’s also supercool to have hardwood floors in a space that should have hardwood floors. You won’t see any free-throw lines, but you’ll know that it was once a basketball court.”
Ingram describes chef Justin Sutherland’s menu as smack-dab within the supper-club zone, with dishes that include a beef-bone marrow pot pie, beer can chicken, green curry duck wings, whole grilled branzino, build-your-own charcuterie boards, burgers, sandwiches (on Brake Bread breads) and raclette shaved tableside onto potatoes and giant pretzels.
The bar will feature more than 100 beverages on tap: wine, cocktails, soda, cold brew coffees and 50-plus beers, along with tiki cocktails.
The patio was also rejuvenated and expanded, and seats up to 240 people, which is roughly triple the size of its predecessor.
“We wanted a giant new patio for this new world that we live in,” said Ingram.
The pub is starting off as a patio-only setup, operating 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Extended hours and inside seating will follow in the coming weeks.
The Ingrams also have a patio under construction at Elotes (928 W. 7th St.), their-soon-to-open Mexican street food cantina in the Keg and Case Market space that was formerly occupied by In Bloom.
“We’re waiting on the liquor license,” said Brian Ingram. “It could be two weeks, or up to 30 days. We’re hoping for two weeks.”
The patios at the Gnome, Hope Breakfast Bar and Elotes aren’t going to fold up at the first cold snap.
“Our focus is going to be continuing to put people outside,” said Ingram. “We’re going to try and cover them and extend their life into the fall. Instead of shutting down in early October, we’re hopefully going to be going into late November.”
Are the Ingrams the busiest couple in the 651? Possibly.
“It’s been really surreal,” said Brian Ingram. “With so many closings in the Twin Cities, this feels almost awkward, but we feel super-blessed. Between these restaurants, it looks like we’re going to hire 150 to 175 people, and we’re excited to bring jobs back to the community.”
Meanwhile, on East Seventh Street
There’s happy news on the frozen treats front: La Michoacana Purépecha is up and running at 809 E. 7th St., which is just west of the corner of 7th and Arcade.
It’s the third location in two years for owner Ricardo Hernández, following two Minneapolis outposts, at 701 E. Lake St. and 920 E. Lake St. in the Midtown Global Market.
The frozen goodies selection includes 30 ice creams, 50 fruit-packed frozen pops and an assortment of fruit yogurts. The shop is open 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily.
Rick Nelson • @RickNelsonStrib