Plant-based burger bar opening along Central Ave in Minneapolis
MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - A new plant-based burger joint and bar on Central Avenue in Northeast Minneapolis plans to be open later than its surroundings, while offering a neighborhood bar setting to accompany its non-meat eats.
Francis, located at 2422 Central Ave. NE, is currently open for take-out until Dec. 30, with social media-announced soft openings planned next week and a grand opening on Jan. 9, 2023.
Named after a pig who escaped a slaughterhouse in Red Deer, Canada, in 1990 - that then became a local folk hero who the band Propagandhi wrote a song about - the menu consists of Impossible brand foods such as burgers, nuggets and fries.
The new establishment is the passion project for three friends with experience in the restaurant industry at places including Moto-I, Bryant-Lake Bowl and J. Selby’s, who’ve now turned their dream into a reality.
"We got to a point where we had done everything in the restaurant industry, except own one – so we decided to take the plunge," said co-owner and founder Garrett Born.
Starting as a food truck – as entrepreneurs throughout the industry often do – Born and friends/co-owners Brendan Viele and Lindsey Johnston, began with a residency at Sociable Cider Werks nearby from September 2021 to September 2022.
After gaining momentum offering their menu to patrons, the brick-and-mortar building they were collectively looking for seemingly fell into their lap one day.
"We had a 5-minute phone call with the Star Tribune about our food being one of the ‘Best Things We Ate’ last week, and two days later the former owners of Dipped & Debris and Sen Yai Sen Lek showed up at our food truck and said ‘We want to talk with you. We might have a space you might be interested in,'" Johnston said. "We got to know them over the next couple months and went from there. We were very fortunate."
Previously, both Born and Viele, who live in the nearby neighborhood, had found themselves searching for food after working later in the evening, with limited options remaining.
In addition to its food, Francis Burger will also offer a full bar and remain open until at least 10 p.m. (Sunday-Thursday), and midnight on Friday and Saturday.
"We want to be a place that people can come when they’re getting off work because there’s so few options later on," said Johnston. "We will have food right up until the time we close."
"We want to be that neighborhood bar where you can order until close," said Born. "We would love to see people packed and we’ll go for a 2 a.m. license."
A sample burger from Francis.
According to Viele, Francis will partner with nearby Earle Giles Distillery for a craft cocktail program.
"We feel like NE is a great burger and beer area, and a place like that near Central and Lowry makes a ton of sense," said Viele.
With a new home, the trio has initially modest hopes that naysayers will simply give the food a try – or stop by for a cocktail if they can’t be convinced otherwise.
"95% of the population isn’t vegan or vegetarian, and we want to delight those customers just as much as the vegans of the world," said Johnston.
"We want to be the best burger in the city, not just vegan burger," said Born. "We hope to convert people. Maybe if not straight-vegan, but a once-a-week thing as an alternative… We’re hoping to slowly see a change."
Wary of expanding too fast, and light on specific plans at the moment, Born said the expansion into multiple restaurants would likely be a future goal for Francis.
For now, Francis also plans to offer food through GrubHub and DoorDash, along with curbside takeout, as its operation becomes more solidified.