It's been a long journey for chefs Craig Johnson and Tobie Nidetz. Since August of 2013 the duo have created and dreamed of sausages made from locally sourced meats and ingredients being sold inside a little shop to call their own. Beset by stumbling blocks like an unfulfilled first attempt at Kickstarter and leases that didn't quite come through, they never faltered in the belief that Minnesota was anxious for these seasoned, snappy dogs.
Today marks the end of the location sojourn. Prairie Dogs have secured a restaurant space and expect to move quickly towards opening. The address was last occupied by The Gray House at 610 West Lake Street.
Construction will be minimal. There are plans for a walk-up window to open in the spring for easy takeaway orders. The chef owners expect to open before the end of the year.
On the menu will be the standards from the pop-up events Prairie Dogs have hosted around the metro area with traditional dogs like the Chicago-style with mustard, neon relish, tomato, peppers, pickle and celery salt; a Sonoran dog wrapped in bacon and more exotic creations like banh mi style dog with pâté with pickled carrots on crusty bread or a merguez lamb sausage.
There will be a monthly sausage devoted to area celebrity chefs. First up will be Landon Schoenefeld of Haute Dish (and the forthcoming Nighthawks) and Steven Brown of Tilia. The chefs will create the special sausages with Johnson and each will be available for a full month.
Initially, the restaurant will only serve dinner. There will also be a special kid's menu, designed by a real kid. Johnson's seven year old daughter was up until bedtime working on it last night.
The bar will be stocked with local beer. Johnson, a self-described "wine guy," is creating a list of affordable bottles. (The beer and wine license might not come through until early 2015).
There are still plenty of big plans on their horizon, anyone who has ever dealt with prairie dogs know they they seldom pop up in just one location. This winter the dogs will also be available at Linden Hills Farmers Market.
There is still a need for some sausage-making equipment and construction costs. A second Kickstarter fund has launched with benefits like a magic hat and a secret handshake or the opportunity to study the craft of sausage making alongside Johnson. There is an investor party planned for the contributors in the new space and a store is operating through the website with hats and t-shirts to help get the gear they need.