From the moment that Surdyk’s Flights opened at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in 2010, customers began suggesting to its owners where else they should build a wine bar and cafe.
“Literally, from day one,” said Emily Surdyk with a laugh. “And they always think it’s their idea. And we always pretend that we’re hearing it for the first time.”
Following the unasked-for advice of probably every person they have ever met, the Surdyk family is adding to their restaurant holdings — outside the airport.
They have christened their new venture Sidebar. When it opens this summer, the restaurant will occupy a portion of the family’s landmark store in northeast Minneapolis.
Surdyk’s Liquor & Cheese Shop (303 E. Hennepin Av., Mpls., surdyks.com) dates to 1934. It’s the fourth generation of Surdyks — triplets Taylor Surdyk, Melissa Surdyk and Molly Surdyk, as well as Taylor’s wife Emily Surdyk — who are the driving force behind Sidebar. The siblings got their start in the family business in the third grade, operating a sidewalk brat stand.
“Each Surdyk before us has made their mark on the business,” Melissa Surdyk said. “Now it’s our turn.”
Planning started in earnest two years ago, which led to a search of nearby properties in the burgeoning neighborhood, where hundreds of apartments are either planned, under construction, opening, or all of the above.
“We knew it would be in Northeast, because that’s us,” Taylor Surdyk said. “We’ve been here since our great-grandparents.”
Logic eventually had them looking within their own building.
“Our customers are already here,” Melissa Surdyk said. “We like to feel that we’re a destination store, and this will only enhance the Surdyk’s experience.”
There’s another asset, and it’s a valuable one: “We have a parking lot,” Taylor Surdyk said.
The casual, 60-seat restaurant will take over a section of retail space that’s directly behind the cheese shop.
The cheese shop, which dates to 1979 and may pack more fine foods per square foot than any other Minnesota retailer, is also getting an overhaul: a sleek new look, a slightly enlarged inventory, but not much more elbow room. A walk-up window will cater to dog walkers and other quick-service customers, and the shop and restaurant will share a kitchen.
The liquor store will remain open during construction, but the cheese shop will be temporarily shuttered. No construction dates have been announced.
The project is being designed by Shea Design of Minneapolis. The restaurant’s centerpiece is a 19-seat bar, which will feature 15 to 20 wines by the glass, a long list of local beers and a roster of craft cocktails that will include, yes, a signature Sidebar Sidecar.
The restaurant will have its own entrance on the Hennepin Avenue portion of building, along with a 34-seat sidewalk patio fronting a large bifold glass door. The Sidebar name is a reference to that side-of-the store location.
“But it also speaks to what happens in a bar,” Taylor Surdyk said. “You speak confidentially, as in a legal proceeding.”
The menu falls under the purview of longtime Surdyk’s culinary director Mary Richter. The table-service restaurant will prepare lunch and dinner daily, focusing on global versions of classic French brasserie fare — steak frites, moules frites, a Niçoise salad — while taking full advantage of the cheese shop’s expertise via shareable cheese and charcuterie boards served with breads from Minneapolis bakers Rustica and Baker’s Field Flour & Bread.
“We have the best pantry at our disposal,” Richter said. “That gives us so much to play around with. It’s hard to mess up when you have the best ingredients.”