Despite Hockey Ties, Herbie’s Is More Than a Sports Bar

With what general manager Aaron Johnson called "gentle nods to the hockey world," Herbie’s on the Park will open Saturday, September 24, in the former Minnesota Club building in St. Paul. The restaurant, developed by Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leopold with Chicago-based Levy Restaurants, is named for Herb Brooks, a St. Paul native best known for coaching the 1980 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey team to gold over the Soviet Union.

Overlooking Rice Park and the statue of Brooks, Herbie’s on the Park takes over what was the club’s Parkview Room and marks the first time the building—which is owned by Brooks’ brother, Dave Brooks—has truly been opened to the public, noted Johnson as people gathered Thursday night for a preview event.

And though it’s named after a hockey legend, "we were careful not to make it just a hockey bar or a sports bar," said Johnson. (I counted only four TVs.)

"We think of it as a social house," he continued, pointing out its proximity to both the Xcel Energy Center and Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. "We want it to be a really nice overall experience, whether it’s people going to a show or the symphony or are here for the game."

The menu has a mix of burgers and chicken wings along with more refined items such as seared arctic char with cashew gremolata, braised white beans and watercress. There are steaks, of course, and with the restaurant open daily for lunch (plus weekend brunch) Executive Chef Tim Kovacs put several sandwiches on the menu. Everything is familiar, yet elevated, said Johnson.

"You take that comfort zone and you stretch it from there," he said of the restaurant’s positioning as "fine casual." Craft cocktails and local beers anchor the beverage program, which Johnson said has to be strong to compete in the market.

St. Paul-based Gleeson Architects designed the restaurant renovation, which retains its original 40-seat marble bar.

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