Beleaguered Sound restaurant closed, but could reopen soon

Sound, the not-quite six-month-old restaurant occupying the ground floor of the former Duluth City Hall building at 132 E. Superior St., closed on Friday. Dennis Kempton, a public relations professional connected to the restaurant, announced on Facebook today that owner Alison Underthun has backed out of the project. A new group of partners will relaunch the business soon, according to Kempton.

“Duluth’s restaurant scene is thriving and changing in so many ways,” Kempton wrote on Facebook. “It’s a business with a high risk and high reward and needs careful planning. I’m not going to go into the many reasons why the restaurant didn’t succeed at this time.”

Kempton announced that he, along with Sound’s chef, Brian Udenberg, will be teaming with the restaurant’s investment group to reopen within 30 days. The name will be slightly modified: Sound Eatery & Events.

“We’re excited about the opportunities that lie in front of us and grateful for the guidance and support of Rod Raymond, the owner of Old City Hall, and the folks at the Entrepreneur Fund,” he wrote.

The rest of Kempton’s Facebook post follows:

How will this be different than the restaurant that was there before? It’ll look the same. But, we are structuring Sound Eatery & Events to function primarily as a total event space and food culture hub for the city of Duluth.

Imagine a place where your business or foundation and even your group can book an entire restaurant for an event. Our facility becomes your restaurant for the night with the highest quality food and service in town. We’ll assist you in the menu planning, the entertainment, and provide everything you need to make you shine. You’ll have the bar, the dining room, the stage. Chef Brian and our staff will provide any kind of food you want.

When we’re not hosting events, the space will operate as a restaurant serving delicious food that chef Brian describes as, “the kind of food your mom would serve if she were a Michelin-rated chef.” We’ve got Nashville Hot Chicken on the menu, along with Shrimp and Grits, an amazing Philly Cheese Steak, the Notorious PIG, and other upscaled comfort foods and curious new additions that appeal to EVERYBODY and every family. Food is communal. The three of us want everyone to eat together and enjoy the restaurant together without feeling uneasy about the food or about what to wear.

We’ll have themed dinner events, we’ll partner with the HArT district community, we’ll offer cooking classes, chef collaborations, and we’ll do amazing fun events on our own like live interviews on our stage with area chefs while we serve dinners featuring their best known dishes. And, we have some collaborative surprises up our sleeves like Battle of the Chefs and similar events.

Old City Hall has been a place where big things happened in the early days of our city. We will keep it going by providing a cultural and culinary hub here. Come for our events. Come for a meal. Host your events here. Have drinks down in the Rathskeller, too. This building is so full of opportunity. Cheryl, Brian, and I hope you’ll join us on this journey. Thank you.



about 4 years ago

Although I appreciate the ingenuity of the last menu, this one sounds much more accessible to the mass market, and has a chance at success as long as the quality and consistency is there.  I do hope they succeed.

Robert Lillegard

about 4 years ago

No! No! Not upscale comfort food with a twist. Please. I wrote about food in Duluth for several years, and that is what everyone serves. Everyone.

For example, Tycoons in that same space. And Blind Pig in that same space.

I know "amazing, but approachable and at a lower price point" sounds really good. But history will repeat itself.

Sound's menu was terrific. TERRIFIC. Solve the operational difficulties, fix cash and staff and service issues, but please don't take away your number one differentiator.

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