A new neighborhood restaurant hoping to bring an approachable, diverse menu is coming to the former Blackbird Cafe space at 38th & Nicollet.
Petite León, a new project from two co-owners, chef Jorge Guzman and bar specialist Travis Serbus, is coming to the food-centric node in Kingfield.
Guzman is perhaps best known locally for his time leading Surly’s Brewer’s Table, a well-regarded kitchen for which he was named a finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef Midwest” award in 2017. A native of Mexico, Guzman said Petite León will incorporate flavors and themes from his home nation, as well as the U.S., Spain and France.
“We want it to be good tasty food; we don’t feel we need to put a classification on it,” Guzman said.
He’s confident the menu will have something for everybody and said burgers, roasted chicken and octopus will all be in the offering. He said the kitchen will cook with the seasons, but he hopes to have regular items that people crave.
“What’s going to set us apart is going to be our hospitality,” Serbus said. “We want to get to know people on a personal level.”
The plan is to build up a following of dedicated regulars in the neighborhood. They were attracted to the Kingfield corner by the diversity of language and cuisine.
Opening during the pandemic is “a little scary,” Guzman said, “but we’re rolling with the punches.”
Petite León intends to have a strong takeout presence, with heat-and-serve family meals that will mirror the menu but contain distinct features, according to Guzman.
Guzman and Serbus are joined in the project by Benjamin Rients and Dan Monosack. It’s the first restaurant from the newly formed Duck Soup Hospitality. Having four restaurant professionals involved has helped ease their minds about opening during the coronavirus pandemic, Serbus said, because if need be, the four of them can run the operation themselves.
The team hopes to open in the early fall. The Blackbird space had “great bones,” they said, but they are making some tweaks to give it a new look.
“We’re trying to build a family-friendly place for the neighborhood,” Serbus said.