Prime Deli, St. Louis Park’s lone kosher meat restaurant, announced that it would be closing around Aug. 31 for a renovation project and a new restaurant concept, helmed by notable chef and restaurateur Stewart Woodman.
“We’re working with a designer from New York and a local architect to bring the next evolution of of the space to St. Louis Park and the Twin Cities,” said Woodman, who was speaking on behalf of the ownership group. “The current restaurant has become a staple in the community, and the ownership, staff, and employees have driven the restaurant and grocery to such a success that the feeling is now is the time for evolution.”
Woodman said the entire strip mall on Minnetonka Boulevard between Joppa and Inglewood, will undergo a facelift. Prime Deli’s owners, which also own the neighboring Kosher Spot grocery story, purchased the mall recently. Former businesses there included Elijah’s Cup, a Judaica store that closed a couple of years ago, and the Minneapolis Performing Arts Center, a dance studio at the southern tip of the strip mall. The MPAC website said they lost their lease because of the landlord wanting to expand their business.
Woodman said the intention is to keep Kosher Spot operating through the High Holidays to serve the needs of the community. The hope is that the restaurant will be open after a 4-6 week closure, but that is dictated in part by city permitting and the general construction process.
For Woodman, the decision to jump into the project wasn’t an easy one. In 2006, he had been named a “Best New Chef” by Food & Wine Magazine but had been in and out of the restaurant business for the last several years — focusing more on woodworking and carpentry.
“This caught my imagination,” he said. “I said I wasn’t getting back into the restaurant business. I didn’t feel like my voice [in the kitchen] is needed or wanted,” he said. It took the owners a couple of tries of asking to get him on board. “As we got closer, some of the exciting possibilities reared their head.”
Woodman started as a consultant and will be leading the food and beverage segment of the operation, leaving the retail of Kosher Spot to others. “They have this catering business that has exploded, and I need to figure where to take that next. A lot is informed by what community is telling us.”
Woodman didn’t go into detail about what the cuisine was going to look like, but he said part of his excitement is looking at the history of the Jewish culinary experience.
“There is such a wealth of tradition and history that hasn’t been explored to the extent it could be,” he said. “The entire project is infused with a sense of Jewish pride and history, and a desire to connect with the broader community.”