Shea Inc. continues its partnership with Kaskaid Hospitality and celebrates the expansion of the Crave brand as well as the creation of new restaurants in the Metro area. Shea is working with Kam to bring Sopranos Restaurant to the Shops at West End in St. Louis Park this spring. Rick Nelson explores the company's expansion with his article in the Star Tribune (see below):
Twin Cities restaurateur craving growth
|Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune |
Brothers and restaurateurs Keyvan and Kam Talebi last year at their Mall of America location.
By RICK NELSON, Star Tribune
Last update: January 13, 2011 - 10:59 PM
Restaurateur Kam Talebi is going to go where few, if any, Twin Cities restaurateurs have dared to tread, particularly during a jittery economic climate. Starting in February, the CEO of Kaskaid Hospitality is aiming to open three high-profile restaurants in as many months.
Talebi, who owns the Crave chain with his brother Keyvan, is taking over the shortlived Ringo -- located next door to the Crave outlet in St. Louis Park's Shops at West End -- and remaking it as Sopranos Italian Kitchen.
"It has been in the works for about nine months," said Talebi. "We have wanted to expand our horizons from American into Italian, but we didn't have the players, at least not yet."
Now they do. Talebi has recruited a top-tier Twin Cities chef -- J.P. Samuelson, formerly of Solera, D'Amico Cucina and his own jP American Bistro -- to run the kitchen.
"We're committed to continue building a culinary team to demonstrate that we are serious about food," said Kam Talebi.
The kitchen's wood-fired grill will turn out steaks and pizzas, and Samuelson will emphasize fresh pastas, rotisserie meats and an ever-changing selection of antipasti. There will be salads prepared tableside, and the bar will tap wines from a half-dozen barrels. "It's going to be the next generation of Italian restaurants," said Samuelson.
A mid-March opening is planned. But first, the Talebis are transforming View Restaurant, their underused property in the Calhoun Beach Club in Minneapolis, into Urban Eatery. Crave culinary director Jim Kyndberg -- chef/owner of the former Bayport Cookery in Bayport -- has devised what he calls a "Scratch Cooking 101" menu that's a moderately priced, gastropub-neighborhood cafe hybrid.
"Crave seats 400, and Sopranos will seat 200, but this is closer to 100 seats," said Kyndberg. "That's a lot closer to my chef-drive comfort zone."
The dining room and bar, with their Lake Calhoun views, are in the midst a makeover. Opening date is set for Feb. 11.
Finally, in April, Crave's fourth Twin Cities outlet will replace the former Palomino at 9th St. and Hennepin Av. S. in downtown Minneapolis. The sprawling location will feature three private dining rooms and the now-requisite rooftop patio and bar. "We hope to serve a market that's looking for an alternative to steakhouses," said Kam Talebi.
That's not all. Later this year, Crave is expanding into the Coral Gables, Fla. market -- following last year's excursions into Orlando and Omaha, Neb. -- and Kaskaid Hospitality has also launched a catering division. It's a steep uphill growth pattern for a company that opened its first Crave in the Galleria in Edina in 2007.
"Our restaurants grew during the recession," said Kam Talebi. "That growth has given me the confidence to continue to push for more opportunities."