Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal - by John Vomhof Jr. Staff writer
Barrio Tequila Bar plans to open a sister restaurant called Cocina del Barrio at 50th & France in Edina this summer, its third location in just two years.
The core Barrio concept will remain the same, but it will have an expanded menu, placing more emphasis on food than its bar-driven counterparts in downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Barrio general partner Ryan Burnet said Cocina del Barrio is a better fit for the Edina market, and also will give the company more flexibility as it prepares to grow beyond the Twin Cities — something it plans to do shortly after the third location opens.
“I don’t have a set number of locations in mind, but I want to continue to expand,” Burnet said. “I’d like to be in a lot of the major cities across America.”
Barrio already has started scouting sites on Rush Street in Chicago, a popular nightlife area. The company also is eyeing markets including Kansas City, Mo.; Austin, Texas; and New York.
Barrio, which boasts more than 100 varieties of tequila and a menu developed by award-winning chef Tim McKee, has drawn rave reviews and big crowds since opening its first restaurant on Minneapolis’ Nicollet Mall in August 2008.
That location generated $3.2 million in sales in its first year, shattering the company’s initial forecast of about $2 million. The St. Paul location, which opened last July, also beat first-year expectations.
With the addition of Cocina del Barrio in Edina, the company should see annual sales of between $10 million and $12 million from its three Twin Cities restaurants, said Burnet, whose business partners include McKee and local real estate developer Tim Rooney.
Cocina del Barrio will be located in a 4,000-square-foot building at 5036 S. France Ave. in Edina, formerly the site of an Edina Realty office. It is next door to Parasole Restaurant Holdings Inc.’s Salut Bar Americain and two doors down from the Blue Plate Restaurant Co.’s Edina Grill.
Burnet has not yet closed on the purchase of the building, but he doesn’t expect any major hurdles; after all, the seller is his dad, Coldwell Banker Burnet founder Ralph Burnet.
Minneapolis-based Shea Inc. will design the space, which will require extensive renovations to convert it from a real estate office into a restaurant. Rooney will oversee the construction.
Ryan Burnet will finance the project with a combination of private capital and bank financing. He has verbal commitments from his investors, including KQRS-FM radio personality Tom Barnard, and he expects to finalize those agreements soon. He is targeting a July or August opening.
Cocina del Barrio will aim to generate 60 percent of its sales from food and the other 40 percent from alcohol. That’s in contrast to Barrio’s Minneapolis and St. Paul locations, which make 60 percent of their money from drink sales.
The menu will be an expanded version of those found at the other Barrio restaurants, featuring upscale Latin fair such as authentic tacos and enchiladas. Phil Roberts, co-founder of Edina-based Parasole, said Cocina del Barrio would be a welcome addition to the 50th & France neighborhood.
“Between them, us and the Edina Grill, this is becoming a dining destination,” he said.
Barrio also would help fill the void left by Tejas, a southwest-style restaurant that closed at the end of 2009, Roberts said.
Cocina del Barrio
Location: 5036 S. France Ave. in Edina (opening in July or August)
Description: A sister concept to Barrio Tequila Bar, which has locations in downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul
Menu: Latin theme with many popular items from Barrio, such as tacos, enchiladas, made-to-order guacamole and various small plates; it also will have an expanded selection of large plates, salads, ceviches and chili rellenos (stuffed peppers)