Imagine a summer night. You're headed over to the Bandshell for a concert, but need to grab some food on the way. While you drop your kids off for a sugar cone down at Sebastian Joe’s, you head down the block to grab a picnic basket of meats, cheeses, and more, along with a quick glass of wine if the ice cream line is spilling out onto the block.
Now imagine a winter night, sipping on a cocktail or a beer before wandering down to Martina, Tilia, or Harriet Brasserie for dinner. Better yet, heading there after your meal to unwind and digest. Soon, both seasonal experiences will be within your grasp.
Elizabeth "E" Kitzenberg is finally ready to reveal her plans for the space at 4307 Upton Ave S in Linden Hills that was previously filled by Clancey's. Picnic, her new woman-owned neighborhood bar, is coming soon.
E and her husband, Andrew (who describes himself as "The man behind the woman"), moved back to Andrew's home state of Minnesota in 2020. The couple settled down in Linden Hills and came to love the neighborhood. Kitzenberg said that she hopes the new “neighborhood gathering spot first, food second” venue can fill in one major thing that she thinks the neighborhood lacks.
“Andrew is from here, I’m not. This is the spot that I feel like I needed since I got here, so we decided to create it.” She originally hails from North Carolina, where her family has food traditions that include the cooking of whole pigs – so it's fair to say that she won't be messing around with the menu here.
Between the neighbors in Linden Hills that live in walking distance, spillover crowds from a few of the dining options on the street that want to grab a quick drink before or after, and of course summer nights like the ones she came to love, Kitzenberg thinks she has the right concept for the right place in her adopted home.
“One of our favorite things is to take a picnic to the Lake Harriet Bandshell. Picnic is a nod to that unique aspect of our local culture,” she said. “We also want this to be an every day, every week kind of place that serves as a complement to the more special occasion places Linden Hills already has.”
The vibes are inspired in part by a lifetime of travel that the couple has undertaken, with a special focus on memorable days and nights in places like Rome and Paris that embrace the culture of casual, drop-in drinks and food that can be stumbled upon in seemingly every corner of the cities.
Originally, their plan didn’t include serving lunch. But after talking to enough people in the neighborhood that felt the Clancey’s-sized hole that opened up when they decamped for Kingfield, they reversed course and added earlier hours and a variety of sandwiches to their menu. “There are a lot more people working around here than most people realize, and between that and the other businesses in the [Linden Hills] village, we think lunch will be a great fit.”
The centerpiece of the food offerings will be their picnic boards, with options ranging from charcuterie to seafood options like crudo, tuna, and pickled mussels to Middle Eastern, cold crab, and pimento cheese dips.
The sandwiches menu will include a BLT, a turkey sandwich with herbed goat cheese and pepper jelly, and more. They'll have salads, including an apple, blue cheese, and prosciutto number named "The Trolly Path" after the Como-Harriet streetcar that rumbles down the tracks a few blocks away.
At night, they'll also have a small food menu that includes mushroom ravioli, carbonara, bone marrow fried rice, and the "Bowl of Cheese," which is their house lasagna. Save room for the four different types of cake at the end of the meal.
If you’re familiar with the Clancey’s setup, their new design might blow your mind. After clearing out a bunch of space that was previously occupied by cases and fridges, they have plans to fit 34 seats along with ample room for people to move around. That will include the construction of a new, central bar on the north side of the restaurant, a window counter with seats facing the street, a couple small tables for two, and a large communal table.
As a family-owned restaurant, Picnic is crowdfunding to offset some of their startup costs and get the neighborhood’s input on wine, food, and events.
If everything goes according to plan with their construction and getting a liquor license approved, they’re aiming for an opening this winter, ideally in January or February, just in time for you to grab a steamy lasagna and dream about the grass turning green again in time for a warm summer night at the Bandshell.
Picnic will be located at 4307 Upton Ave S in Linden Hills. To start, they're planning to be open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. until late night on weekends.