Residents of Standish and Ericsson are likely familiar with Sea Salt, the popular, locally owned and operated seasonal concession at Minnehaha Falls. What you might not know, however, is that a massive renovation to the concession at nearby Lake Nokomis will likely soon rival Sea Salt’s quality selections and service.
On Dec. 5, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) approved a contract with Sandcastle, a new enterprise by Doug Flicker and Amy Greeley. You may already be familiar with Chef Flicker. His restaurant, Piccolo, has been featured on Anthony Bourdain’s TV show No Reservations, and he was named Outstanding Chef at the 2012 Charlie Awards.
Sandcastle will be a sharp contrast to the Lake Nokomis concession that residents and park visitors have seen slowly degrade for years. The recent vote to improve the facilities at the lake’s main beach was not a hasty process. In August 2011, the MPRB created a community advisory committee (CAC) made up of five members, one from each of the lake’s nearby neighborhood associations. I represented the Standish-Ericsson Neighborhood Association throughout this process and, along with my fellow CAC members, helped to relay community input for the project.
The Lake Nokomis Community Advisory Committee crafted a public survey in February
2012, and made it available online and at nearby community centers. At an open house in
March, most of the public comment mimicked the majority of responses from our survey: respondents strongly supported choosing a local concessionaire, patio seating, fresh and healthy menu options at reasonable prices, and, if permitted, beer and wine service.
Armed with this information, the committee put out a request for proposals (RFP) in April. We were excited and impressed by the groups that responded. However, Sandcastle’s alignment with the CAC wish list, their residency and personal stake in South Minneapolis, their financial strength, and, quite simply, their genuine, sincere interest in this specific opportunity made them the obvious choice.
In July, our committee voted to recommend Flicker and Greeley’s proposal, but it would be four more months until we could formally advocate for them before the MPRB. On Nov. 28, CAC officially recommended Sandcastle to the board. One week later, the board voted to approve a contract with Sandcastle.
Design and construction plans are currently under way. If logistics and weather cooperate, Sandcastle could open as early as mid-May 2013. Its menu will be diverse—starters and mains will include (but not be limited to) ceviche (a seafood dish), hush puppies and gazpacho, whole-wheat wraps, hot dogs, and American Indian fry bread.
Chris Lautenschlager is an Ericsson resident and SENA board member.