Black Sheep settles in to 26th & Nicollet

Credit: Black Sheep owners Colleen and Jordan Smith commissioned artwork by local firm PUNY for the new Nicollet restaurant. Photo by Michelle Bruch

Out of 70,000 pizza restaurants in the country, the Food Network recently lauded Black Sheep as one of the nation’s “Best. Ever.”

Owners Jordan and Colleen Smith live in an apartment above the original North Loop restaurant, and they’ve been eating at Black Sheep seven days a week. They didn’t intend to open another restaurant this year. They planned to take a year to relax, especially as their youngest kid left for college. But they like Eat Street — they considered opening their first pizza shop where Glam Doll Donuts is today. So when the former Buddha Kitchen space at 26th & Nicollet opened up, they grabbed it.

“It’s not like you get another chance,” said Jordan.

“We’ve always loved the neighborhood,” said Colleen.

The Nicollet location features a giant wall mural by PUNY. The local firm does the cartoons for Yo Gabba Gabba, and it’s created table art for Black Sheep since the first restaurant opened in 2008.

Nicollet Avenue offers the same pizza and salad as the other locations, with a full bar open until 2 a.m. The closing time is later than any other Black Sheep spot, and the bar is attracting other restaurant workers who get off work earlier in the night.

A grill behind the bar (inspired by 3.2 restaurants and suggested by architect David Shea) cooks chicken and steak skewers, grilled oysters and fennel sausage.

“Brown liquor needs red meat,” Smith said.