Saguaro restaurant opening in former Caribou spot at 53rd & Lyndale

A new restaurant called Saguaro is slated to open this summer at 5309 Lyndale Ave. S.

The mother-and-daughter team of Caryl Abdo and Amanda Abdo Sheahan is launching the venue — their family is recognizable for its ownership of the Nicollet Island Inn, the My Burger chain, and other ventures such as the ice supply for the Minnesota State Fair.

Saguaro (named for the cactus) is devoted to the Sonoran cuisine of Arizona. It’s inspired by Amanda’s late grandmother, who was Lebanese, lived in Tucson, and cooked in a unique style blending Southwest and Mediterranean traditions.

Amanda anticipates a nice taco menu with pork belly, roasted mushroom and fried chicken tacos prepared in an open kitchen. Most of the menu would be gluten-free, a priority for Amanda as she is gluten-free herself. The 45-50 seat restaurant would offer wine and beer and sidewalk seating.

Amanda works from a wheelchair; she became quadriplegic after a car accident her senior year at Notre Dame. While designing the restaurant, she joked that the tables must be placed appropriately so she can easily navigate the space.

“I need to be able to get around in there,” she laughed.

She said her career “claim to fame” involves operating the State Fair’s Big Fat Bacon stand (bacon-on-a-stick), which she runs with her cousin. She also serves on the boards of the Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute and Breakthrough Twin Cities, a group that helps students overcome adversity to prepare for college.

Her mother Caryl operated restaurants with Larry in the 1980s, and she’s had a hand in family businesses and State Fair booths.

“She’s worked behind the scenes for a long time,” Amanda said.

The restaurant is targeting an August opening date, filling a yearlong vacancy created by Caribou’s sudden departure.

 “I’m just really excited to be in the neighborhood,” Amanda said.

She said her father grew up in South Minneapolis, and she was baptized and married at the nearby Church of the Annunciation.

Amanda said the food won’t be the heavy fare typically associated with Tex-Mex. Chef Ryan Stechschulte of Nicollet Island Inn and Chef Rich Harrison are creating the menu.

“It will be light and fresh, and we’ll have smaller plates so people can come in and try lots of different things,” she said.