Coming soon: Lola’s on the Lake, an eatery with a mission

The founder of Lola’s on the Lake will serve chicken wings and employ neighborhood kids, dovetailing with his day job’s vocational training mission. Submitted photo

Update: Lola’s is planning a grand opening Memorial Day weekend. 

Expect to wait until mid-May for Lola’s on the Lake to open in the former Tin Fish refectory on Bde Maka Ska.

“I talked to the Park Board, and there is still 18 inches of ice on the lake,” said owner Louis King, explaining that they can’t pump water to the building until a full spring thaw.

Lola’s has grown from backyard parties to the Super Bowl, beating 11 other pitches for the five-year lease to replace Tin Fish at 3000 East Calhoun Pkwy.

“Why not throw our name in the hat?” King said. “I think I can shorten the lines.”

He said one way to do that is offer a quick line for grab-and-go food like kids’ meals, salads, pulled pork sandwiches and smoked mac and cheese. There will be frozen treats and 10 beers on tap.

“We’ll spice it up and speed it up,” King said.

Another line with longer waits will offer specials like fried fish and red snapper garnished with peppers. The wings are a customer favorite. The Sweet Sticky Thing, named after the Ohio Players song, are made with a “secret glaze.”

After the refectory hits its stride, mobile food carts with ice cream will travel to spots like Thomas Beach.

King said he launched the business to teach work ethic to his daughter, Lauryn “Lola” King. They started by cooking for a jazz festival at Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park.

“It gave us the fever,” he said.

They went on to work concessions at the Jim Lupient Water Park in Northeast, and later succeeded in taste tests to cook at U.S. Bank Stadium. At their busiest game, where the Vikings played the Green Bay Packers, they made $30,000 in a few hours.

“We are built for speed,” King said.

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Louis King. Photo courtesy of Summit Academy OIC

King is a U.S. Army veteran, and he works as president and CEO of Summit Academy OIC, a vocational training and job placement program in North Minneapolis. He asserts that “the best social service program in the world is a job.” Summit offers accredited training programs at no cost to students in fields like construction and healthcare.

The New York Times featured the academy in a February story about the lowest-ever black jobless rate, still twice that of whites. Summit Academy is in the midst of a campaign to provide 1,000 low-income Minnesotans with education and job training. According to Summit, the average graduate comes to the program earning less than $10,000 a year, and leaves to earn about $34,000 a year, with 82 percent still employed three years later.

Photo courtesy of Summit Academy OIC

King plans to extend that mission to Lola’s on the Lake.

“The first thing we’re going to do is make sure neighborhood kids far and wide know we’re hiring,” he said. “…They need some independence and they need to make a little money.”