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Downtown St. Paul Sports Bar Snags a Chef with A History of Burger Mastery

The Pillbox Tavern is expected to open in late February

A close up of Messenger’s face, smiling. He’s wearing a Minnesota United baseball hat Max Haynes/Courtesy of Messenger

The Pillbox Tavern, the new sports bar in downtown St. Paul’s new Treasure Island Center, has hired Graham Messenger, formerly of The Fitz in St. Paul as opening chef. The bar, owned by the same people behind Jersey’s Bar in Inver Grove Heights, is expected to open by late February. It’s one piece of the new multi-use event center that’s just finishing construction at 400 Wabasha Street.

Messenger was the chef under Justin Sutherland at Madison Restaurant Group’s Fitzgerald’s, where he built their reputation for fantastic burgers, and again when it was rebranded as The Fitz, serving a selection of pizzas, including the best Chicago-style deep-dish available anywhere in St. Paul.

A part of the Treasure Island Center complex, The Pillbox Tavern was named by Jersey’s co-owner Bill Ashton, who told the Pioneer Press that restaurant/bar is named for the short-lived Saints stadium on 12th and Robert that was known as “The Pillbox.”

Expect the room to be decorated with historical sports memorabilia, and a menu sporting some seriously good burgers, bar food, and plenty of craft taps.