This morning Gavin Kaysen, owner and chef of the most buzzed about restaurant in recent Minneapolis memory announced a change of heart. What we have been calling Merchant will actually open as Spoon and Stable.
"It was about two weeks ago," he explained of the idea for the name change. The original thought, when he was pulling together a business plan and dreaming of his own place while still working in New York City for Daniel Boulud, was "Dorothy's." That name would honor his grandmother, who has been much of the inspiration for the cooking and heart of the restaurant.
However, when he saw the space, which was originally a horse stable built in 1906. Spoon and Stable was his first thought. Then came an "ideation" session. "You begin with something you love and it makes perfect sense, but sitting in a room bantering with other people... somewhere it changed," said Kaysen.
As opening day draws near, he began to feel more and more that Merchant wasn't the right name for his restaurant. "So, I called up Daniel and Thomas [Keller], as well my closest advisors, my dad, brother, and wife. I asked them if people would think I'm off the deep end - changing the name this far into the planning. They all had had the same response: this place will be what we make it, this team."
The timing of the announcement along with a recent story regarding his fascination and tendency to steal spoons seems a bit too coincidental, but Kaysen insists that story wasn't a plant. "I thought everybody knew that about me. That [article] just came from a casual conversation we had back when I was visiting New York," he insists.
How does he plan to combat the steal of the now namesake utensil? "We added it to the P.O.S. system. There's a 'souvenir' fee."
He's still learning as he goes when it comes to owning a restaurant, but he's had some pretty good mentors. "One of the most important things I learned from Daniel is that the key to success is spontaneity."
Of course we're all wondering what the inside of
Merchant Spoon and Stable looks like. Msp/St. Paul Magazine's food editor Stephanie March shot a video tour with the team, including images of a soup from Kaysen and one of Diane Yang's desserts.
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