Spring Café Morphs into Dock & Paddle
Thursday, May 28, 2020 8:45 AM

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Two years ago, it was a new owner and a new name. Last year, it was a new owner but the same name. This year, it is a new name -- but the same owner.

Such is the journey of the restaurant in the Como Lakeside Pavilion, previously known as Spring Café, previously known as Como Dockside, previously known as Black Bear Crossings.

Now, welcome Dock & Paddle, which intends to open on Friday June 5. “This is tough time to roll out anything, but we’re committed,” Tony Arvidson, regional vice president for Lancer Hospitality, told the Como Community Council. “We are really looking forward to embedding ourselves in this community."

Lancer's Red River Kitchen unit took over Pavilion management in 2019, had a season that exceeded projections, and learned a lot about what can work in the space, serve park visitors, and be a family destination for neighborhood residents, Arvidson says.

Quick service for outdoor dining

Opening in the middle of pandemic restrictions means Dock & Paddle will debut in a scaled-back version. Expect items that can be ordered at the indoor counter, then prepared quickly. That will get diners outdoors, as required by state provisions. The restaurant can seat a maximum of 50 people in the Pavilion’s covered promenade.

The initial menu will include appetizers, grill fare such as sandwiches and burgers, a children's menu, and locally sourced salads. Some favorites return from last year, including the BLAT (bacon, lettuce, avocado, and tomato) and Cubano. In keeping with the new name and decor, we'll see fish-and-chips and fish tacos. This year’s “hand-pattied” burger is a smokehouse cheeseburger. Kids' items are $8; most everything else is in the $10-$14 range.

Unique beer lineup
Dock & Paddle’s biggest coup is an exclusive arrangement with the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild. “This is super exciting for us,” Arvidson says. The Guild will curate a rotating selection of brews from around the state: from Rochester and New Ulm to Duluth and Grand Marais. That means Dock & Paddle will serve beers that are rare – or even impossible – to find in the Twin Cities. The restaurant will serve wine, too, but no other alcohol.

Dock & Paddle intends to open weekdays 11 a.m.-9 p.m. and weekends 9 a.m.-9 p.m. The lower-level, carryout window called "Lakeside Treats" is open noon-8:30 p.m. daily. Outdoors, Wheel Fun will continue to operate surrey and watercraft rentals.

Once restrictions ease, the restaurant will expand its menu, including more “restaurant caliber” choices from chef Max Chavez, Arvidson says. “Our plan is to offer chef-inspired food served by a consistent and friendly staff focused on providing exemplary customer service,” he said in a statement. "There will be good vibes and good times."

Initially, though, the emphasis is on “very fast, very quick.” To manage customer flow under pandemic guidelines, the restaurant will use a “reverse” pager system: Customers will be paged to place their order. Kitchen and infrastructure improvements that Red River made over the winter will speed service. Full social distancing and health regimens will be in place, Arvidson says.

Dock & Paddle also hopes to resume music, theater, and other entertainment on the promenade as soon as July. Molly Maher booked a full summer line-up, which will be ready to go as soon as public health officials give the green light, Arvidson says.

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Copyright 2020 Como Community Council. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

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