Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal reports that the California-based salad chain Sweetgreen Inc. will open three locations in the Twin Cities this year, confirming the company’s plans for a Midwest expansion first reported by Axios. Sweetgreen has a cult following among salad eaters on the coasts, where its (now retired) loyalty program and verdant marketing assets — in which each salad bowl seems styled as a portable Garden of Eden — popularized with fast-moving urban professionals. (The New Yorker writer Jia Tolentino’s take on Sweetgreen: “a marvel of optimization.”)
In October of 2021, Sweetgreen filed for an initial public offering, announcing its plan to start trading on the New York Stock Exchange — a move that affirmed its status as an ambitious tech company, not just a salad chain. Millions of dollars in losses reported in that filing, however, cast doubt on Sweetgreen’s profitability prospects. In March of this year, CNBC reported that in its first quarterly report since the IPO, Sweetgreen has seen both widening losses and strong sales growth. The company doesn’t expect to profit this year — which is uncommon among publicly traded restaurants.
Sweetgreen arrives in a Twin Cities scene already saturated with salad chains: as the Biz Journal reports, Steele Smiley’s Crisp and Green has 10 locations around the metro (with nine more coming this year) and Green and the Grain runs six locations, plus a food truck. Sweetgreen plans to open its first Twin Cities location in Edina this summer, with spots in the North Loop and on Grand Avenue to follow.
Not even pizza can escape inflation
March 29, MinnPost ran a handy analysis of how gooey, doughy, crusty pizza — like many other essential costs of living — has gotten more expensive since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a survey, MinnPost collected data from the Wayback Machine and seven local pizzerias — Black Sheep, Fat Lorenzo’s, Football Pizza, Galactic Pizza, Leaning Tower of Pizza, Mama’s Pizza, and Mesa Pizza — to look at how the price of a specific pizza (in most cases, the largest cheese) had changed. Averaging those prices out, they found that pizza has gotten about 15 percent more expensive: from $14.79 in 2018 to $17.00 today, an increase of $2.21. This increase is approximately on par with general inflation, MinnPost found, which indicates that increased production costs are being shouldered by consumers.
Chef Gavin Kaysen unveils Four Seasons restaurant names
Last week, Mpls.St.Paul Magazine reports, chef Gavin Kaysen revealed the names of his restaurants in Minneapolis’s forthcoming Four Seasons hotel: Mara and Socca. Mara’s menu will highlight cuisines of the diverse countries along the Mediterranean coast: think pasta, flatbreads, hummus, crudo, pizza, and more. Mara’s cocktail bar, led by Adam Witherspoon of 3Leches, will have a separate menu. Socca — more of a grab-and-go morning cafe — will have coffee, pastries, and Mediterranean-influenced dishes like hummus bowls and salads. Both restaurants are expected to open in June, and reservations will be opened in May.
Liquor law reform inches forward in the Minnesota House
Minnesota’s liquor laws are unusually draconian — in one infamous example, a Prohibition-era restriction that’s still in action prevents grocery stores and gas stations from selling alcohol with more than 3.2 percent ABV. On March 25, Racket reports, the state House Commerce panel approved a bill that would expand a number of liquor freedoms: for one, it would increase breweries’ production cap for growler sales from 20,000 barrels per year to 150,000, allowing high-volume brewers like Summit and Surly to sell beer to go. It would also greenlight cocktail rooms for distilleries, temporary liquor licenses for places showing the FIFA world cup, and the sale of six-packs on-site at smaller-scale breweries. Absent from the bill, notes MinnPost, are wins for grocery stores. The bill now must pass through House Ways and Means.
More than a dozen diners sickened from raw oysters at Travail Kitchen
Last week, 29 people got sick with norovirus gastroenteritis after eating raw oysters at Robbinsdale’s Travail Kitchen and Amusements, reports the Pioneer Press. The Stellar Bay Gold oysters were sourced from Deep Bay in British Columbia on March 10. In a statement, health department officials said that Travail quickly notified them and stopped serving the oysters. But officials noted that affected oysters are likely still in the marketplace: restaurants are encouraged to check their stock, and diners can inquire about oysters’ harvest location noted on their shell stock tag.