After months of speculation, a new vendor was selected to operate Como Lakeside Pavilion.
Como Dockside is slated to open in spring 2015 and will include a full-service restaurant, an expanded summer concession stand and new recreational options. Based on community feedback and evaluation, listening sessions and more than 1,000 public comments, Como Dockside will be a center for the community first and foremost, according to city councilmember Amy Brendmoen.
If the tentative agreement is approved by the St. Paul City Council on Dec. 17, the pavillion will be run by Jon and Jarret Oulman, the father-and-son team behind Amsterdam Bar in downtown St. Paul and the 331 Club in Minneapolis.
“The new vendors are very much responding to what the community is asking for,” Brendmoen said.
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The Oulmans say they hope to provide visitors with a place to enjoy year round, a community hub that includes great food, both indoor and outdoor activities, and plenty of fun-filled events. Fans of the Music in the Park series need not worry, the contract requires a minimum of 100 events per year on the outdoor promenade, including up to 20 dates selected by the city for its Music in the Park concerts.
“We’re very excited about this opportunity,” Jon Oulman said. “We are going to activate the lake. We will add new paddleboats and canoes—lots of activities.”
The Oulmans plan to have a picnic-type menu for the restaurant, which will also include local beers.
“Folks can bring a picnic basket or get one from us and get out on the water,” Oulman said. An overhaul of the building will make the venue cozier and more welcoming during the winter months as well, he said. The team is considering adding a small arcade facility downstairs for kids of all ages.
While the Oulmans will take over the building the first week in January, a meet-and-greet event is tentatively planned for mid-January. “We want an opportunity to introduce ourselves,” Oulman explained. “We won’t have much to show everyone yet, the ink is still drying, but we are excited to reach out to the community as soon as possible.”
“The city has been amazing to work with,” he added. “They made the process as smooth as possible and were clear about what the neighborhood wanted. I’m a longtime St. Paul resident. I feel that in St. Paul, city officials assume you are trying to do the right thing by the community, and they help you get there.”
The proposal will be reviewed by the parks commission next week and go to the City Council for final approval on Dec. 17.