MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s gone by so quickly, Pat McDonough barely even noticed that the blue double-doors into the kitchen look every day of their ten years old.
“It’s gone by in the blink of an eye honestly,” McDonough said.
McDonough and his friend Jeremy Woerner were working together at St. Paul’s Groveland Tap in 2008, when they decided to open their own restaurant. Blue Door Pub started up on Selby Avenue in St. Paul at an absolutely crazy point in time.
“It was 2008, it was the recession, and people couldn’t believe we were opening a restaurant,” McDonough laughed.
They opened it near his home, taking over the lease from a Carribean spot called Puerta Azul, which translates to “Blue Door.” It was a hit from the moment they opened.
“First day, we were three deep outside. The line ran around the block. It’s been busy pretty much ever since,” he said.
Ten years later there are four neighborhood Blue Door Pubs, plus a new outpost at Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport. The entire concept is based on a riff on a Twin Cities icon: the jucy lucy. Like many restauranteurs have experimented with different forms of pizza, Blue Door added blue cheese instead of American, and turned the juicy into a Blue Door original called the “Blucy.”
“Burgers and beer, they don’t go out of style. We all work really hard, and we’ve had a core group of people, employees, who’ve been with us almost from day one,” said McDonough.
The burgers are prime chuck beef from Central Minnesota. The creative toppings – like the ghost pepper cheese and fried avocados in the Mount Bleusuvious, come from the imagination of the owners and their team. No fancy chef working here.
“We’ve always tried to come up with something fun, playful, something people can talk about and take pictures of,” he said.
That social media, interactive approach is also clear in the Blue Door’s BOM contest – the burger of the month. Fans submit ideas like The Big Tex : pulled brisket, cheddar and barbeque sauce, stuffed with brie.
“We had people saying all the time – what if you did this,” said McDonough, “so we created the contest.”
Blue Door is also one of the first spots you could get state-fair type food done in a more gourmet setting. Cheese Curds, Deep fried Pickles, Tempura Green Beans too.
“I was worried that we only had fried food on the menu, so we created a version of a jalepeno popper: hollowed-out, filled with cream cheese, wrapped in bacon, topped with seasoning, and baked,” he laughed, “not much healthier!”
Ten years of hard work… and patina on those blue doors. A new concept that’s become a modern classic.
“I love it, I have fun every day,” said McDonough.
Blue Door Pub is celebrating it’s 10th anniversary with a “10-year Anni-Hootenanny” an outdoor birthday bash at their Como Avenue location.
Blue Door Pub-St. Paul (Como Avenue)
Saturday, Sept. 22