Reporting Sara Boyd Pelissero
Taking inspiration from his first location, Cafe Maude owner Kevin Sheehy wanted to evoke a similar sense of community, celebration and love when opening his new restaurant downtown.
With a style that would stay true to the brand, Sheehy incorporated local artists, warm colors and overall comfort into his newest venture, Cafe Maude at Loring.
He said he wanted to build an environment that would welcome and entice both newcomers and loyal customers.
“It’s a gathering place,” he said. “I wanted to stimulate yet I wanted it to feel warm and reach the head and the heart.”
Sheehy’s Cafe Maude at Loring opened Thursday at the former site of Nick and Eddie, off Loring Park. He used all local artists — from the paintings on the walls to the lighting to the local musicians that will soon be performing.
Sheehy said he considered moving away from the inspiration of his brand, Maude Armatage, if only for a second. He said he considered honoring Minnesota poet Phebe Hanson or Theodore Wirth, a man instrumental in creating Minneapolis parks. But in the end, he wanted to continue celebrating Maude’s forward thinking and many contributions to the community in a new space.
“When we researched her in the beginning, when I needed to name that place at 54th and Penn, we stumbled upon her and she’s just this dynamic woman — first woman elected in the history of the state, girl scouts, civic leader, park board, politician, not only voted but ran for office, that was a no brainer,” he said. “We were like, ‘Yeah, we’re going to celebrate this gal.’”
The name may be similar but what about the menu? Sheehy said it differs only in the sense that they’re able to take it in a few new directions. The menu will largely pull its inspiration from the Mediterranean — without honing in on a specific spot.
“The spices and the freshness and just the way that they cook vegetables, and I really like lamb and I love fish,” he said. “I could eat French food every day, I could eat Spanish food every day. But I mean, just keep it eclectic, keep it fun.”
Sheehy admits, having no professional training in the food industry before opening a restaurant gives him a slightly different approach. He’s a food enthusiast but may not consider himself a “foodie,” per se. He’s just looking to create an experience for people who love food, wine and good company.
He doesn’t skirt around his reasons for opening a second location — he says, quite honestly, he’s looking for a little bit bigger financial gain. In a nickel-and-dime industry, Sheehy said he’s hoping to be able to save a little more.
“The only way to make money in this business is to make sure all the faucets aren’t dripping and pick up all the quarters that drop on the floor,” he said. “It’s really tight.”
When the location opened up, Sheehy said it was a perfect opportunity to share the wealth and be a part of a new community.
“Loring Park is one of my favorite areas of the city, it’s dynamic,” he said. “As a musician, I used to play at the Loring Pasta Bar a lot, that was my hangout. So I love it.”
Above all else, Sheehy’s excited to welcome a new neighborhood to his establishment and hopes the notion is returned.
“We hope to just say ‘Welcome’ to all colors, all stripes, all sorts of people,” he said. “We love everybody.”
Cafe Maude at Loring opened Thursday at 1612 Harmon Place, Minneapolis, MN 55403. The restaurant is open Monday–Wednesday from 4 p.m. to midnight, Thursday-Friday from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. and Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more information, check out their website.