Travail began in whispers, a cozy neighborhood restaurant on a charming main street in a quaint suburb of Minneapolis. The chef/owners were doing something rare at the time, serving everyone themselves. There were rumors of an incredible, affordable tasting menu. What could have remained a treasured neighborhood secret soon spilled out into the mainstream food press and suddenly there were lines out the door.
When the time came to upgrade the space, owners Mike Brown, Bob Gerken, James Winberg, and the rest of what would come to be known as “The Collective,” launched a massive Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a new location. No one had ever seen anything like the response it got. There were pop-ups, sexy chef calendars, records smashed - it was jaw-dropping.
That electric thrill of being a part of something bigger, special, and working outside the expected confines of what a restaurant should be is exactly what makes Travail special.
In the intervening years there has been a launch of a wildly successful pizza restaurant (that’s now also a brewery), and countless memories made.
In 2018, the collective had outgrown its second location, the building the Kickstarter campaign built. While building yet another new entire building, the crew relocated for a time to Minneapolis, opening new restaurants every couple of months inside the same building at 1930 Hennepin Avenue. Pig Ate My Pizza took over the former address, adding many more pizza options, as well as a tasting menu, and that brewery.
Now, the collective is back in what’s affectionately known as Bird Town, and kicking off a whole new era. As we dip into the multi-level experience, it seemed like a good time to look back at the astounding trip Travail has taken so far. So, here is the story of how Travail got to here, starting back in the early days of the restaurant, in 2012.