Lancer Catering Buys Out Spring Café
Wednesday, February 20, 2019 2:50 PM


Lancer Catering has purchased Spring Café from owner Matty O’Reilly and will take over management of the restaurant inside Como Park’s Lakeside Pavilion immediately. Lancer’s purchase assumes full responsibility for the remaining four years of Spring Café’s contract with the city, says Susie Odegard, special services manager for Saint Paul Parks and Recreation.

Lancer currently operates Zobota Café and Zooper Foods at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. But Odegard says park visitors should not presume that Lancer simply will duplicate those menus in the Pavilion. “They also do high-level catering and have a whole other line of business that features good, quality, fresh food,” Odegard says.

“They understand they have to perform what the contract requires,” Odegard says. “We’re going to work through it, but I expect a smooth transition.” Lancer is also familiar with the studies and community input that preceded Spring Café’s opening in April 2018, Odegard says.

District 10 continues to seek comment from Lancer management, and to set up a community meet-and-greet before Lancer opens.

Sale won't affect Delicata, O'Reilly says
Lancer purchased Spring Café and Red River Kitchen, another seasonal eatery that sets up shop inside City House, which is a restored terminal building that Parks and Rec owns at Saint Paul’s Upper Landing.

O’Reilly, who is traveling overseas, would not comment on selling Spring Café. But he told District 10 in an email that the sale will not affect Delicata Pizza and Gelato, the Como neighborhood restaurant on Pascal St. that he also owns.

Under O’Reilly, Spring Café featured an ever-evolving “Americana picnic” menu. It lasted one year in the Pavilion, after replacing Como Dockside, a Cajun-influenced restaurant that also lasted one year. Dockside replaced Black Bear Crossings, a long-running cafeteria and coffee shop that the city replaced in hopes of generating more revenue from the Pavilion site.

Spring Café’s contract with the city requires that it is open daily at least from May through Labor Day, and weekends the rest of the year. However, Parks and Rec let the restaurant shut down in October 2018 after O’Reilly said business fell off dramatically.

The contract also requires, among other things, that Lancer provide at least 100 musical performances a year, operate the lakeside concessions window (which hosted Sweet Science ice cream in 2018), and provide bicycle and watercraft rentals.

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