After one last New Year’s Eve celebration, Midi shuttered its doors for good. But the prime location the restaurant occupied in the lower level of the historic Fitger’s Brewery Complex, with its patio and unparalleled lake view, won’t be dormant for long.
Renovations are already underway for the Boat Club Restaurant & Bar, a fine dining establishment set to open in Midi’s old space Valentine’s Day weekend.
Midi, which was billed as a Mediterranean fusion restaurant, has occupied the space below the Fitger’s Inn since 2007. Before Midi were Bennett’s on the Lake and Augustino’s. Tami Tanski Sherman, Fitger’s mall manager, says the location’s original restaurant opened in the 1980s and was simply called Fitger’s.
“It’s Duluth’s original lakeside dining spot,” says Jason Vincent, who is behind the Boat Club and also owns the Vanilla Bean Restaurant and Catering in Two Harbors—which has been in business for nearly 19 years.
Vincent says the new restaurant’s concept came to him “while standing in the dining room and looking outside.”
The Boat Club will seat about 100 people, with additional seating and full menu service available outside when weather permits. The space will be updated with new flooring and paint, playing on a nautical theme that emphasizes Duluth’s shipping history. Décor will be minimalistic with emphasis placed on Lake Superior.
“We live by the largest, greatest lake in the world. The idea is to bring that into the dining room,” Vincent explains.
The dinner menu will include locally caught fish, fresh seafood and steak (pricing $20-45). The bar will feature handcrafted cocktails and local craft beers. The Boat Club will also serve lunch and breakfast. The lunch menu will feature items such as a Reuben sandwich and lobster roll (pricing $10-15). Breakfast will incorporate old favorites from the Vanilla Bean like Swedish pancakes ($7-15).
Midi’s staff will be retained for the new restaurant and Vincent expects to hire additional staff too, for a total of 50. The Boat Club is holding a job fair at the space on Thursday, Jan. 12, from 2 to 6 pm.
In addition to Vanilla Bean’s Two Harbors location, Vincent opened the Vanilla Bean Coffeehouse in the Fitger’s building last summer in the former Cookie Temptations location. The coffee kiosk serves Vanilla Bean baked goods and gourmet truffles as well as smoothies, salads, soups and sandwiches to go.
Vincent began a discussion about opening a full restaurant in Fitger’s about a year ago when he learned Midi’s owner, Marie Schmidt, was considering semi-retirement. Schmidt is also the proprietor of Winzer Stube in Hudson, Wis., which is considered one of the top five German restaurants in the country.
Sherman says Vincent’s restaurant was a great fit for the Fitger’s building, which prioritizes local entrepreneurs, because of his passion and proven ability based on his other ventures. “He has the same philosophy as us in terms of quality and attention to detail,” she says.
“We’re excited to be a part of this historic building—it’s been such a significant staple in the community for so long and has an amazing reputation in the community. We look forward to championing and being a part of that,” says Vincent.
The Boat Club will open at 5 a.m. daily (seriously) and close at 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Reservations will soon be available via the restaurant’s website and opentable.com.
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