Trattoria Mucci, the Italian bistro from restaurateur Tim Niver and chef Chris Urich, is closing.
The final doughscuit-dominated brunch will be this Sunday, Jan. 16, and the final day for dinner will be Jan. 29. Niver shared the news with fans late Thursday via the restaurant's Instagram page with the rallying cry, "Goonies never say die."
Opened in 2019, Trattoria Mucci, at 901 W. Lake St. in Minneapolis (muccisitalian.com), was an offshoot of the smaller St. Paul Mucci's. The restaurant also took the place of another Niver venture, Meyvn, which ran for one year.
"We were only open for six or eight months when we had to close," said Niver, referring to the statewide mandated restaurant closure due to the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020. "We had hundreds of people coming through the doors — it was working for a while. We've spent more time closed for the pandemic than we had opened for service."
The hearty, homey, red-sauced Italian food is the kind people often flock to in colder months. The team had hopes for a better winter 2021 season, but with the rise of omicron, those expectations didn't pan out. Niver, who describes himself as an optimist, said he couldn't find much to look forward to with the business.
"I think I know a lot, I know what kind of restaurants will work," he said. Niver worked at the Minneapolis outpost of Aquavit and was an owner of the lauded Town Talk Diner and Strip Club Meat & Fish. Both places are credited with leading the Twin Cities' craft cocktail revolution. Niver also maintains co-ownership of Saint Dinette in St. Paul's Lowertown. "But what do I know? Some places open and blow the doors off right away."
Niver acknowledged the impossible nature of the pandemic and the even more impossible position restaurants have been forced to contend with, first closing their businesses and laying off staff to enforcing mask mandates to the recent requirements by both Minneapolis and St. Paul that restaurants require proof of vaccination or a negative test for diners. "Mandates don't help restaurants. No matter what I agree with and what I think is best. Mandates are not helping."
Niver said they will absorb as much of the staff as they can into the smaller St. Paul location of Mucci's, but there will be reshuffling and hard decisions to be made.
"In a way, the heyday of restaurants is over," said Niver. "They were waning before the pandemic. The waters were getting muddied. This [the pandemic] put a damper on the way business was. We have to look back and see when our heyday was — 2010, 2012. Things peak."
The address where Trattoria Mucci sits has been regarded as a "cursed location" by some in the industry. It's been home to Spill the Wine, Tinto's, and Mevyn before Mucci's arrived. Before opening his second restaurant in the location, Niver held a spiritual cleansing of the building, which he's spoken publicly about in the past.
While this is the end of Niver's involvement with restaurants at this location, there is hope for a new eatery, and he said there might be a new person interested in opening an entirely new restaurant at this address someday soon. "I took care of the curse for the next person. I think someone with a fresh start there — I think they have a good shot."