David Burley and Stephanie Shimp, owners of Blue Plate Restaurant Company have are busy expanding their culinary empire. Blue Plate, whose collection of popular eateries includes The Freehouse, Groveland Tap and Longfellow Grill (among others), will open not one, but two new restaurants as well as an event center. The openings are slated for this fall since the team is busy with its State Fair annex, The Blue Barn, in the summer.
The duo is also thinking ahead, way ahead. They’ve purchased a farm in New Prague and have a long term plan to raise some animals, grow some crops, and possibly throw some parties. Eventually.
Burley and Shimp have started some renovations on the former Brasserie Zentral and Foreign Legion spaces, which will become the Mercury Dining Room & Rail in a more open, sunny space. The menu at Mercury promises to be accessible, from scratch fare and will include all-day breakfast. In the former Foreign Legion space, the Shindig Event Center will be born sometime in the fall as well. The event center will be available for larger gatherings, suitable for weddings, meetings, bar mitzvas, what have you.
And that is just the Minneapolis wing of this news bombshell. When Scusi shuttered back in March, Shimp and Burley promised to reopen with a buzzy new concept. Ta da! As soon as they receive the elusive liquor license, Bottle Rocket will reopen in the space after a spiffy remodel and an addition of a cocktail program by Erik Eastman of Easy & Oskey. The revamped restaurant will serve lunch, dinner and a weekend breakfast menu.
Now, about that farm, it's 53-acres, where they hope to raise some produce for the restaurants, maybe a few hogs, compost spent grains from Freehouse brewery and perhaps even add a pizza oven and an event space.