The following story by Jake Weyer was published in the September 6, 2010 issue of the Southwest Journal:
HARRIET CONCESSION CONTRACT NEARS APPROVAL
The board will decide this month whether to approve local restaurateur Kim Bartmann’s concept, Bread & Pickle
After more than a year of community review and a selection process that narrowed a field of nearly a dozen applicants, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is scheduled to vote this month on a new Lake Harriet concession contract.
Staff recommended local restaurateur Kim Bartmann’s concept, Bread & Pickle, based on the suggestion of a community group that reviewed and interviewed the applicants. That group was made up of former members of a Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) the Park Board assembled last year after public outcry over a proposed concession change that would have required a new building. The CAC examined concession opportunities and drafted recommendations used to review applicants.
“The CAC was really a lengthy, drawn-out, long process,” said Park Board General Manager Don Siggelkow. “But it yielded the information and the understanding that I think brought this conclusion the way it needed to happen.”
Several high-quality applications were reviewed, Siggelkow said, but the decision to recommend Bartmann’s proposal was unanimous. A Park Board committee planned to vote on the contract Sept. 1, after press time for this issue. If approved, the full board would take up the contract Sept. 15.
Bartmann, who runs Bryant Lake Bowl, Barbette and the Red Stag Supperclub, was thrilled about getting the nod.
“We think it will be a challenge, but we think we’re up to it,” she said.
Bread & Pickle would serve a variety of sandwiches, salads, frozen treats and snacks (popcorn and ice cream would stay on the menu) made from locally sourced ingredients, Bartmann said. She also wants to open at 7 a.m. to serve breakfast and coffee.
Some of the items on her sample menu (purposefully oversize to show a range of offerings) include egg sandwiches, a burger made with grass-fed beef, a vegetarian-friendly black-bean burger, a rice and veggie wrap with tofu, a “pasta of the day,” a chocolate covered frozen banana and numerous beverage options such as coffee, tea and lemonade. Beer and wine are not on the menu.
In an effort to be as eco-friendly as possible, Bartmann said she would not offer bottled water. Instead, she plans to sell Minneapolis tap water in reusable stainless steel containers for the same price. She also hopes to provide compost containers for waste and is working with Linden Hills Power and Light to become a part of the neighborhood’s composting program.
Bartmann said she is negotiating the purchase of GiGi’s Cafe at 822 W. 36th Street, which she would use along with Barbette, 1600 W. Lake St., for food preparation. Barbette chef Kevin Kathman would oversee all of the food operations.
Speedy service is crucial at Lake Harriet during the busy summer months and Bartmann plans to offer a call-ahead picnic menu to help keep things moving. She’ll even provide a blanket for all pre-order customers. Catering and mobile vending around the lakes might also be offered.
Operations would be seasonal, but she’s hoping to host some special events that might involve periodic winter appearances.
Her contact would be good for five years, at which time the Park Board would reassess the concession operation. Siggelkow said he was hoping for swift approval and expects Bread & Pickle to be a success.
“I think it offers concert goers and users of Lake Harriet another great opportunity, just like we did with Tin Fish (on Lake Calhoun) and Sea Salt (near Minnehaha Falls) to have an additional amenity to an area that already has all kinds of great things to do,” he said.
Lisa McDonald, an East Harriet resident who served on the CAC and the review committee, said Bartmann’s track record, financial backing, nearby facilities and vision made her standout among several other solid applicants. Well-known local establishments D’Amico and Sons and Sawatdee were among the contenders.
“Kim is very creative and inventive and she’ll keep fine tuning it until she gets it right,” McDonald said. “And she was the only person that was willing to do breakfast at the lake, to really do it thoroughly I mean.”
McDonald was among those concerned that the Park Board wasn’t “casting its net wide enough” in its first search for vendors. She said the CAC had a lot to do with the larger pool of applicants the second time around. Its recommendations for the site also streamlined the selection process, she said.
Among the group’s guidelines were more food options, timely service, use of the existing facility, environmental sustainability, respect for the setting and a business plan that included proof of financial strength.
“I think that really did a tremendous service,” said former CAC president Matt Perry, who was also on the review committee. “The CAC brought visibility to the fact that there was an interest in having a local firm providing expanded food options. It also gave great marketing information to what a potential vendor would be.”
Bartmann said the name of her concept alludes to its sandwich offerings. With the Park Board’s blessing, Bread & Pickle could be open as soon as April.