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About a decade after Steak and Ale, the restaurant chain, had closed, Paul Mangiamele and his wife, Gwen, went searching for memories on Facebook.

Like reconnecting online with a long-ago high school sweetheart, they typed in the name of the brand they had bought after Steak and Ale's 2008 bankruptcy. They had a feeling there might be others out there who missed the family-friendly steakhouse as much as they did.

"I said, 'Is anybody drinking the Kool-Aid but Gwen and me?' " said Mangiamele, a New Jersey native now based in Eden Prairie and Florida.

The Facebook page the couple started, "Steak and Ale's Comeback," became a 54,000-strong fan club for people with memories of the restaurant chain, founded in 1966 in Texas. And it was a signal to the Mangiameles — the owners of Texas-based Legendary Restaurant Brands — that they weren't alone in wanting to revive Steak and Ale and its sister brand, Bennigan's.

"The bloom wasn't off the rose," he said.

That comeback officially begins today. The nation's first new Steak and Ale is now open in Burnsville, attached to the Wyndham hotel at 14201 Nicollet Av. S. It's the first of 15 Midwestern locations for Steak and Ale and Bennigan's, planned in partnership with a local franchisee, Endeavor Properties. Greater Minnesota can expect another two to three locations.

"They were two beautiful diamonds that just needed to be polished up and brought into the 21st century to appeal to a whole new generation," Mangiamele said last week while showing off the new restaurant, speaking over Chita Rivera's "All That Jazz" on the speaker system.

Selecting Burnsville as ground zero was controversial, he added.

"They're all mad that we're not in their backyard," he said. "The Dallas people are going, 'Why not in Dallas?' Shouldn't we get a little credit for doing it at all? We said, 'OK, here's where we're going to plant a flag.' "

Employees train at the new Steak & Ale in Burnsville on July 3.
Employees train at the new Steak & Ale in Burnsville on July 3.

Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

Living part of the year in Eden Prairie, Mangiamele said he chose the Twin Cities because it's a "great restaurant market," where he had access to friends in the local food world who could give advice on tweaking original recipes and plating.

The result is a mix of old and new. The thatched roof and Tudor-style décor Steak and Ale was famous for are visible only in a mural of vintage photos on one wall. Other walls are accented with wine racks and barrel tops, trading midcentury coziness for tasting room vibes. But then there's a stone-encrusted fireplace featuring the original S&A crest, flagstone walkways and the restaurant's signature salad bar — now with glass sneeze shields and other COVID-safe precautions. Stained glass accents are on the way.

The restaurant, which has a parking lot-facing patio, can seat 150 to 160. More than 100 staffers will keep it running.

It's not only germ awareness that's changed since the last Minnesota Steak and Ale, in Bloomington, closed 16 years ago.

The brand revives in a social media-fueled world, where "Instagrammable" is among the Mangiameles' descriptors of the food and drink. Original recipes were tweaked for today's tastes (more spices, different plating), but have the same "basic DNA," Mangiamele said. Cocktails are now "speakeasy" style, made by "mixologists." Familiar dishes such as the Hawaiian chicken, prime rib and loaves of honey wheat bread are all back.

Other retro perks are tableside Caesar salad and tableside Irish coffee. "Nobody does that," Mangiamele said. "We're bringing flair back into casual dining."

The menu is price-conscious. Dishes start at $15 for a crispy chicken sandwich and max out at $57 for a 10-ounce filet mignon. The salad bar is included with every order.

A towering chocolate layer cake for dessert is, for Mangiamele, a symbol of his version of Steak and Ale's "point of differentiation." On value, he said, "we go overboard."

Steak and Ale is now open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Reservations are available on OpenTable.

The "Mile High” chocolate cake at the new Steak and Ale in Burnsville.
The "Mile High” chocolate cake at the new Steak and Ale in Burnsville.

Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune