Twin Cities restaurateur Kim Bartmann—who owns the Red Stag, Barbette, Pat's Tap, Bryant Lake Bowl, and Bread & Pickle— is known both for her fun, themed restaurant concepts and, also, her emphasis on sustainability. Her next upcoming restaurant, Tiny Diner, will put sustainability even more front-and-center, with a garden and solar array on the restaurant's Powderhorn site. Originally announced with a hoped-for May opening, Tiny Diner should be opening by Christmas at the latest, and possibly by late November.
Bartmann spoke with Eater about what to expect from Tiny Diner, from the food to the solar panels to the gardens to the giant beehive/playhouse. Here's the lowdown.
1. The food. "Like my other places, I like to reimagine and elevate traditional menu concepts," Bartmann says. "We'll be exploring diner food, but reimagining it with high quality ingredients and more healthful dishes." Beyond the permanent diner-inspired menu, each month the specials will focus on diner food from different American cities; for example, one month might serve coffee burgers and chili from Cleveland, another month might feature Philadelphia scrapple.
2. The 22K solar array. That's right,
the solar panels that will act as a roof over the patio space cost $22,000, the solar panels are 22 kilowatt and they're bigger than the restaurant itself. (Correction: to the solar layman, "22K" sounds a lot like $22,000, but in fact refers to kilowatt.) Sitting underneath the solar array and looking up, the translucent reflectors will mean it always looks like blue sky, even if it's a cloudy day. Hello, rainy-day beer spot.
3. The garden. Tiny Diner will have not one but two gardens, one on-site and one off-site. The on-site garden is being run in partnership with the Permaculture Research Institute - Cold Climate, which will be teaching classes and leading skill shares in the garden. The off-site sister garden, known as Tiny Diner Farm, is a 3/4-acre lot in South Minneapolis managed by a permaculture farmer. In its first harvest this summer, Tiny Diner Farm produced over 2,000 pounds of vegetables, which went to Bartmann's other restaurants.
4. A giant woven beehive/thicket/fort. Minneapolis artist Kelly English is building one of her trademark "thickets"—a kind of beehive woven out of river willow—for the space. At eight-feet around, it has doors and windows and is meant as a children's playhouse (for while you're drinking a beer and gazing at that always-blue sky).
5. The name. When Bartmann came up with the name Tiny Diner, she figured there must be dozens of Tiny Diners across America. But when she looked the name up online, the website was available. "So, I thought, well, if tinydiner.com is available, I'm going for it," she says. Since the diner is actually smaller than the solar array, it's an especially fitting moniker (plus, the tiny carbon footprint). Just don't start singing Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" to her; you won't be the first to come up with that joke.
· Tiny Diner Facebook Page [Facebook]
· All Coverage of Tiny Diner [Eater MPLS]
· All Coverage of Kim Bartmann [Eater MPLS