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.

Option B_MG_1307
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.”

  • MyNickel

    I hope they prove me wrong, but I am disappointed in the plan. As much as I like bbq, you can not beat a delicious fish taco and ice cold beer on the lake patio. And if I want snapper I would probably wait to get it from someone known for their fish, like,,,hmm, Tin Fish? or Sea Salt? Anybody can slap pulled pork on a bun and push em through fast. We clearly were all willing to wait over and over and over again for Tin Fish specialties. They may prove me wrong by simply attracting different clientele and make a boatload off fast food, but I will be at Sandcastle. But please, prove me wrong with great food instead.

  • Tandem_fusion

    i hope you’re wrong. I’m afraid a part of that is just regional taste. As a Minnesotan who lived in the Southeastern U.S. for 30 years, I think the notion that “Anybody can slap pulled pork on a bun” rests on your personal taste and an unsophisticated palate: pulled pork ranges from limp and pointless to sublime. Minneapolis largely has the former. I’ve eaten at every BBQ joint in the area and honestly none of them measure up beyond mediocre in my estimation. To assume that all pulled pork is the same and is what you’ve experienced is a bit like saying that anyone can throw together a fish taco: it ain’t so!

    It’s entirely possible the Lola will produce the real thing. If they do, they’ll satisfy people who know good and appreciate good Q.

    As to the snapper, I am completely in agreement. Properly prepared fish, if it isn’t their wheelhouse, doesn’t sound like a good bet.

    All of that said, at least it’s not another $10 burger joint.

  • Cuckles_the_clown

    Ten beers on taps sounds good.

    But the long lines at Tin Fish were to a great extent in reverse proportion to the number of free available picnic tables. What good is getting a plate of food quickly – if there is no place to sit??!!!?!

    I hope Lola’s is also going to add some additional seating capacity.

  • Cuckles_the_clown

    And those fish tacos at TinFish were not only not authentic tacos – but they would take a squeeze bottle and squeeze some nasty white cheesy ooze from a squeeze bottle all over that soggy breaded fish. Must be a Minnesota thang.

    The Mighty Tin sandwich for $3.50 was the only authentic and yummy item on that tired old menu.

  • MyNickel

    You are right about the fish tacos, because as a matter of fact the employees who “took over” the Tin Fish late last year did in fact ruin the taco. And yes, at least it’s not a burger joint. But I bbq is still not my choice lakeside. Lola does have a reputation for good food. Maybe they will have some great ice cream? Have you been there yet? I will check it out soon.

  • Mike

    Growing pains for whole season? No restaraunt pro would waste a season like that. Shortened the lines because few liked the place. Got bad reviews immedistely from friends. Moved boat to Lake Harriet.

More in Biz Buzz