Tavern to open at Duluth's BlueStone CommonsThe mystery restaurant to be built at the BlueStone Commons along Woodland Avenue, just east of UMD, will be called Tavern on the Hill, and it is expected to create 100 jobs.
By: Candace Renalls, Duluth News Tribune
It’s time for the big reveal.
The mystery restaurant to be built at the BlueStone Commons along Woodland Avenue, just east of UMD, will be called Tavern on the Hill, and it is expected to create 100 jobs.
The 350-seat restaurant on the 1200 block of Woodland Avenue, with a large bar and outdoor patio, is designed to appeal to both neighborhood residents as well as the nearby college community. It will offer popular student fare along with light, healthy dishes and ready-made items for commuters at medium prices.
Behind the project is New London Corp. which owns the area’s Black Woods restaurants. But don’t expect another Black Woods when it opens in early summer.
While plans to build a standalone restaurant as Phase III of the BlueStone Commons mixed-use development was no secret, exactly what restaurant it would be has been the subject of speculation and rumors.
Tavern on the Hill will fill a void in the neighborhood, which lacks a sit-down restaurant with broad appeal, said Bryan Flaherty, owner and president of New London Corp. which also owns and operates Black Water Lounge and Greysolon Ballroom in Duluth.
“We expect a wide range of people,” he said. “We think there will be reason for them to come see us.”
BlueStone developer Mark Lambert said his team heard time and again from neighbors, students, faculty and college staff that they needed a nice, classy gathering spot nearby.
“All of those groups were hoping for some expanded options for dining and having a beer,” Lambert said. “So I think there was a need out there waiting to be addressed. Tavern on the Hill will be exactly what people are looking for. “
“It’s not just for neighbors. It’s not just for students,” he continued. “It’s for a neighborhood of great neighbors and great students.”
Open daily, the atmosphere will be casual. Besides burgers, pizza and other traditional favorites, the menu will include bison burgers, sushi, soups, salads, panini sandwiches and vegetarian dishes. Prices will range from $6 to $10 for lunch and up to $15 for dinner.
The “Grab and Go” section in the restaurant will allow customers to buy desserts, pizza and prepared a la carte and other dishes to take home. Take-out from the menu also will be available.
“It’s something that’s got something for everybody,” Flaherty said.
Construction of the 10,000-square-foot restaurant began recently just west of the BlueStone Lofts apartments and near the Shops at BlueStone that’s also under construction. It will stand on the site of a 2½-story, century-old house that was razed last week after it was offered free to anyone who would move it off the site. Made of brick, difficult and expensive to move, it got no takers. Work on the structure, which began last week with the installation of the first footings, will continue through winter.
All the work is being done locally, including the design and the subcontractors used by general contractor Johnson-Wilson Constructors of Duluth.
The targeted opening is June or July.
The bar will have at least 25 local and other craft beers on tap. Separate dining rooms will be available for group parties and meetings. An outdoor dining area will be landscaped and big enough to accommodate 100 people. Fire pits and heaters will allow outdoor dining to extend into fall.
Sustainability will be part of the restaurant’s approach. That includes the use of locally-sourced foods, dimmable parking lot lights, paper towel-less restrooms and eco-friendly takeout packaging.
“We’ll do some recycling, because it’s the right thing to do,” Flaherty said. “We’re doing everything we can to be energy efficient.
With five restaurants and a lounge already, Flaherty wasn’t looking to open another one. But he got to know Lambert through the Black Woods Blizzard Tour, an annual snowmobile ride to raise money to fight ALS in which Lambert rides.
“I wasn’t looking for a project,” Flaherty said. “But when this came up, I thought this was too good to be true.”
He liked Lambert’s BlueStone Commons project, with its mixed-use components. And he liked what it would do for the community surrounding the University of Minnesota Duluth.
Flaherty especially liked that BlueStone wouldn’t be built in a tourist center like Canal Park.
“We want to be in neighborhoods,” he said of his establishments. “And this is an exciting neighborhood.”
Moreover, he grew up just a mile away, and he said he has fond memories of the area.
His company will build the new restaurant and lease the land. It’s a significant investment, he says, but he’s confident about it.
“I consider this to be a home run.” he said.
With a clean, contemporary look, including exterior stonework, the new restaurant will fit right in with the BlueStone development that’s taking shape around it.
Lambert said he was fortunate to hook up with Flaherty and his team.
“Bryan and his group are committing millions of dollars to build a beautiful tavern,” Lambert said. “They put together a great plan to address the needs of the neighborhood. We think it will be a first-class restaurant for BlueStone.”