Gigi’s Cafe at 822 West 36th Street was officially sold in early November by Alex Woehrlin to Kim Bartmann. Bartmann is the current owner of Cafe Barbette, Bryant Lake Bowl, Red Stag Supper Club and in a purchase option agreement for Casey’s Bar at 3510 Nicollet Avenue. Bartmann is looking forward to the Gigi’s ownership and said “I sort of missed the coffee shop business.” Bartmann has had a 20 year ongoing relationship with coffee distributor Woehrlin. She appreciates the neighborhood’s loyalty to Gigi’s under Woehrlin’s watch and is adamant about being faithful to them. But coffee isn’t the only reason Bartmann is excited about Gigi’s.
The new site will also be a staging area and support location for the Lake Harriet Bandshell concession building. Bartmann recently won the Park Board’s selection process for running that business. Because the Bandshell location is protected under historic preservation its small space cannot be modified. That means it limits what a chef can prepare on site.
The big picture for Gigi’s is a remodel and rebranding with a name change in February 2011. Bartmann will be working very closely with kitchen and house staff over the transition period. She closed the shop soon after the sale for two days of limited remodeling. A few things got moved around and some new paint went up but Gigi’s Cafe remained very recognizable afterward.
As Bartmann has done with her other establishments she wants to focus on the local and the sustainable when it comes to serving food at Gigi’s. She currently sits on the board of the Land Stewardship Project, a private, nonprofit organization founded in 1982 to foster an ethic of stewardship for farmland, to promote sustainable agriculture and to develop sustainable communities.
Early risers will be happy about the new hours. Gigi’s will be open at 7 a.m. everyday. And on the other side of the daylight, Bartmann assures there will be no change to the alcohol license. But expect to see a few more customers as free wireless service will be available and potentially some more bike racks.
Specific changes for the menu include adding small breakfast scrambles, oatmeal and fruit. She also wants to provide more fresh salads and fresh chai tea from scratch.
On the service side there will be improvements made to reduce the food-to-table service time. And the to-go program will be improved and expanded. Bartmann would like to give the young families in the area a simpler offering of some family-style comfort foods like fresh roast chicken dinners. “It’s hard to feed the whole family Chinese when you’ve got a two year old that eats very little variety.”
And save room because Bartmann says that “Pies, pies, pies are coming to the bakery case.”