July 27, 2012 by Sarah M
//By Jeremy Zoss//
A new restaurant from Crave parent company Kaskaid Hospitality called Union has been revealed as the new anchor for the former Shinder’s site at 8th and Hennepin. Led by executive chef Jim Christiansen, Union will feature a menu of eclectic American food and a feature that no other restaurant in Minnesota can claim: an all-glass retractable roof for its four-season rooftop patio.
The retractable roof and folding glass-panel walls will allow the restaurant’s rooftop to be usable year-round. Climate controls will heat or cool the space to a comfortable temperature when the system is closed. When open, the roof and walls completely retract, save for a ten-foot section about the rooftop kitchen area.
The restaurant will also feature a full dining room on the first floor of the building and a bar in the basement called the Marquee Lounge. The second floor of the building will house Shea, Inc., the restaurant company that designed Union. Shea, Inc. has worked on many other high-profile restaurants on Hennepin Avenue, including Butcher & The Boar, Fogo de Chao and Rosa Mexicano.
Shea, Inc. founder David Shea said the retractable roof has always been part of the plan for the building’s restaurant tenant and that rooftop patios are becoming increasingly important for downtown restaurants.
“But the problem is that you only get 60 to 70 days of really good weather,” said Shea. “It rains, and what do you do with 150 people? The technology is this telescoping element that opens completely to the sky.”
Shea, Inc. approached Jim Christiansen about developing the menu and then brought in Kaskaid Hospitality to operate the restaurant. Christiansen has worked at several renowned restaurants in the Twin Cities, including La Belle Vie and Sea Change. He recently returned from a trip to Denmark, where he spent six weeks observing the team at Noma, named the best restaurant in the world by “Restaurant Magazine.”
Union’s menu has not yet been finalized, but Christiansen said he plans to focus on quality ingredients and that the first floor dining room and the rooftop patio will offer different menu options. North Star Bartenders Guild founder and mixologist Johnny Michaels will develop drinks for the restaurant.
“This is like Super Bowl level here,” said Michaels.
Kaskaid Hospitality CEO Kam Talebi sees Union as something different for the company, which also operates the Crave chain, Urban Eatery and the recently announced reborn Figlio in St. Louis Park.
“Honestly, it’s our first real entre into what I’ll call the culinary restaurant world,” said Talebi. “We’re going to keep the price very reasonable. If anything, it will be a little lower than Crave. We’re going to offer a lot of small plates and snacks, so there will be a range of price points people can come in and enjoy.”
Union is expected to open in November.