Animales Barbeque Co. owner Jon Wipfli announced December 7 that he plans to open a permanent restaurant in the Twin Cities next year, with his barbecue and burger menus in tow. Wipfli has partnered with chef Billy Tserenbat of Billy Sushi on the restaurant — though Tserenbat is a business partner, and sushi won’t appear on the menu.
Wipfli and Tserenbat are still on the hunt for the right space, but they hope to open in Northeast Minneapolis, where the Animales Barbeque Co. and Animales Burger Co. trailers both currently live, or the North Loop. The new restaurant will serve alcohol — a first for Animales, which has operated as a mobile business for all of its four years — and with a bigger kitchen, Wipfli plans to expand the menu, adding more barbecue and burger options and some key sides.
“It’s ridiculous how many people want French fries,” says Wipfli. “We’ll probably do something with potatoes or French fries. Give the people what they want.”
Wipfli says he’s been searching for a permanent space for a while, but partnering with Tserenbat kicked his plans into gear. “We just haven’t had the internal presence or bandwidth to do it,” says Wipfli. “That’s why we brought on Billy to help facilitate that process. He brings a lot of connections and a lot of experience in that arena.”
It’s been a somewhat tumultuous year for Animales. Over the summer, Animales and its Northeast neighbor Boomin Barbecue were the Midwestern dark horses in a Texas Monthly feature on Texas-style barbecue, making a mark on the national scene. Then, in September, a convoluted city food truck ordinance almost caused both businesses to shut down.
Wipfli says he’s looking forward to the stability — and the possibilities — that a permanent space will bring. “It’s gonna be nice to not be running all over town with a bunch of food,” says Wipfli. “We’ll be able to craft everything precisely the way we want it to be done without any of the limitations of a food truck.”
Expect a fall or winter opening in 2023. In the meantime, both the Animales trucks will be up and running next summer.