Chef Max Thompson, owner of Stewart’s in St. Paul will be taking over the kitchen at Nighthawk’s, the diner on the corner of Nicollet and 38th in South Minneapolis. He’s going to dig in and gear up for a major reset that will debut to the public on October 1. This the next chapter in one has been one of the most dramatic restaurant stories of the past few years.
Nighthawks first opened in April of 2015 as a Landon Schoenefeld project. The chef was also the owner of Haute Dish in the North Loop and there were huge expectations for his new diner. A year later, he opened an experimental dining/pop-up space called Birdie. Somewhere during this time, he divested in Haute Dish (which eventually closed) and in December of 2016, the chef announced he was leaving the restaurant and Minneapolis behind.
It looked like the restaurant might falter, but it instead became a part of the neighborhood where people could count on getting a burger in the evenings and some giant pancakes on the weekend.
In November of 2017, Kim Bartmann stepped in to takeover management of Nighthawks. The prolific restauranteur operates a mini empire of eateries in Minneapolis.
“She knew how to run the place, but we’re looking to put the focus back into the food,” said Thompson. What can be expected in the new iteration of Nighthawks is about 75% new stuff with 25% classics in place.
“We’re keeping the pancakes and the hot dogs,” Thompson said. “People love the burger and I think we’re going to continue that with some really good, ground in-house meat with some variety.”
One returning classic to the menu will be the pastrami sandwich. The original Nighthawks menu had a cured meat king that was all the rage when the restaurant opened and somewhere along the way got dropped from the menu.
“It’s about two weeks since I’ve been here,” said Thompson. “I’m just starting to feel like I have some kind of a clue.” He’ll continue to learn the ropes, work with the great staff already in place and in October relaunch the restaurant with his menu.
“This place just needs a little love. I think Landon probably poured everything he had into this place and it’s time someone came back in who could give it that kind of attention again.”