Sol Ave. Kitchen hopes to be a local Moorhead favorite, with interesting food within walking distance of Junkyard...even in Minnesota winters.
Starting up a new restaurant isn’t easy, even for industry veterans like Luna Owner Nikki Berglund and Chef Ryan Nitschke, who partnered to create Luna in 2014.
To make this new project a reality, they sought funding through Kickstarter, an online crowdsourcing platform, to raise $75,000 of the $100,000 needed to start the venture. Two-hundred and thirteen Fargo-Moorhead food fans pledged $75,556 to help bring the project into existence.
“We were overwhelmed by the Kickstarter support,” Berglund says. “We knew we had a lot of excitement from both the Moorhead community and our existing customers, but we were so excited to see everyone get on board with our Kickstarter campaign. It just made us believe in our idea that much more!”
Kickstarter supporters didn’t come away empty-handed, though. Depending on their pledge amount, future Sol Ave. customers can look forward to rewards ranging from a high-five and a cup of coffee for $5, or free food for life for $10,000.
“It’s a nice kickstart, pun intended,” Nitschke joked.
With funding secured, Berglund and Nitschke are looking forward to more fun: securing approval from the city and making renovations to the front 1,000 feet of the current First Ave. Promo building on First Avenue North. Renovations include new lighting, concrete floors, hood vent systems and making a bar divider for the open kitchen concept.
“We are now just waiting on approval from the city to get to work,” Berglund said. “We have a wonderful landlord David Hunstad, who is laying down the foundation pieces for our restaurant and then we will be going in with our own people to turn it into Sol Ave. Kitchen.”
If you’re thinking of Sol Ave. Kitchen as a Moorhead extension of the Luna franchise conveniently located next to Junkyard: don’t. Though it shares core principles with Luna such as using local farmers and vendors, Sol Ave. Kitchen will be an entirely different beast.
Firstly, the daily menu changes at Luna won’t be a part of the Sol Ave. Kitchen business model.
“It will be a much more casual, beer-friendly menu, globally inspired, and sort of like a brick and mortar food truck of sorts,” Berglund said. “It will be geared towards take and go, with the main point being that is can be taken into Junkyard. We will also have our own restaurant space though with a fun, happy vibe and a small wine and beer list.”
After exceeding their Kickstarter goal, the staff is ready to start the project. In fact, they’re already serving food.
Last month, the Sol Ave. crew held “pop-up” events at its sister restaurant, Luna, where customers could try the “globally (and thoughtfully) inspired street food with a Midwest twist” that will be served at the new restaurant.
The menus included appetizers, tacos, entrees and dessert.
Some highlights include the “Midwest Bibimbop,” a sticky rice bowl with pickled vegetables, fresh greens and a soft-boiled egg. And the BBQ Beef Short rib served with toasted Youngblood sourdough, southern slaw and crispy shallots.
If you missed the first two, Sol Ave. Kitchen has you covered. Another “pop-up” event is scheduled for March 20 at Junkyard.
If you’re looking for a more permanent option, keep an eye on the current First Ave. Promo building next to Junkyard. If everything goes to plan, Sol Ave. Kitchen should be open sometime this spring.