In 2010 a creative cook and his artist wife opened Caribe Caribbean Bistro in the Midway area of St. Paul, Minnesota.
Serving up dishes from across the Caribbean, Puerto Rico native Tony Panelli was fulfilling a dream along with me, his wife and business partner. The dream is temporarily on hold now, as the restaurant had to close. We are asking you to help kickstart a new Caribe in the Audobon neighborhood of Northeast Minneapolis!
Create a new Caribe Caribbean Bistro at 2851 Johnson St. NE in Minneapolis! That's right, the making & opening of the restaurant is the project!
Project start date: If our goal of $50,000 is met, the project will begin June 16th as we unleash a creative explosion of colorful tropical hand painted mural art and decor in the space, while Tony will once again be able to get creative in the kitchen.
Project finish date: The opening of the new restaurant will mark the project's completion, which we estimate will be late this summer (we're shooting for August 2012). It will be a challenge, for sure, but we're energized by challenges and are ready to take it on!
EXCLUSIVE BEHIND-THE-SCENES UPDATES!
Project progress videos, photos, design sketches, menu brainstorming, and other progress updates as we build out the space will be available exclusively to backers only.
Backers at all levels will be updated regularly as our project unfolds; joining us along the way and sharing our joys, challenges, hurdles, surprises, and inevitable unexpected set-backs from permits to paint to plates to plantains.
Ever wonder what all goes in to opening a restaurant? See what it's like first hand! Ask questions, make suggestions, and leave comments. YOU–not just your pledge–will be a part of building this restaurant!
THE LOCATION: 2851 Johnson St. NE
As you can see in the pictures above, we would have a lot to work with! Plenty of space to get creative and add color and Caribbean charm to the walls, booths, entry area...OK, pretty much everything will be covered in color.
The broader location surrounding the building is the Audobon neighborhood of Northeast Minneapolis. The neighborhood boasts several unique businesses we would be honored to call our neighbors, including:
The Coffee Shop Northeast (their 4-berry smoothy is to die for!)
Holy Land Restaurant & Deli (mmm...gyros!)
Eastside Food Co-Op (creative & colorful...our kind of building!)
Crafty Planet (they have Caribbean fabric!)
Sarah Jane's Bakery (totally worth the made-from-scratch calories!)
Rewind Vintage + Contemporary Clothing + Accessories (groovy!)
Hazel's Northeast (American comfort food, made from scratch!)
Foiled Again Salon (don't ya just love that name?!)
Washburn McReavy (funeral services)
A Bag Lady (a sparkle wonderland of jewelry & clothes!)
Castle Building & Remodeling (hmm...maybe they can help us?)
Terravista Landscape Design (I'm seriously drooling over their gorgeous work on their website)
...if we missed your business, let us know! We're happy to add a link here.
Backer rewards range from a hug from Tony in the new restaurant (see video above), to your name being painted in a wall mural, to an exclusive private party with celebrity guest (and Caribe fan) HGTV “Bathtastic” and DIY “Bathcrashers” host, Matt Muenster who may also be helping with the design of the restaurant. One top donor and a guest get to eat free-for-life at Caribe while $5 gets you our eternal gratitude. There is no minimum and no maximum.
Backers at all levels will receive exclusive, regular updates on our project progress. You will have a front row view of the creative process and start-up marathon of opening a restaurant.
(Please note: the $500 reward includes 2 invitations, not one. $500 gets you and a guest into the dinner! Now that the project has launched, we were unable to change it in the backer rewards section.)
What else is in it for you? An expanded menu and comfortable booth seating. Free parking in a nice parking lot across the street. Men's and women's bathrooms (if you’ve been to our original location, you’ll know what a big deal this is).
But your donation goes far beyond customer amenities. By backing this project, you will be:
- Filling a vacant storefront that has sat lifeless for nearly a year with a vibrant, locally owned business.
- Bringing in tax revenue to the city and state.
- Providing a lunch, dinner, and brunch spot with a unique menu
- Enhancing the value of the neighborhood.
- Bringing additional customers to the area, which benefits surrounding businesses.
- Bringing business to our wholesale vendors.
- You will be creating jobs!
This project is to raise the necessary funds to make a "Caribe 2.0" a reality. We estimate we will need $50,000.
You can make it happen!
HERE IS YOUR MISSION, SHOULD YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT:
1. Kick in for Caribe! Get in on the project and help make it happen. Pledge a donation of any amount, reap your backer rewards, and bask in serious bragging rights every time you step in for a meal.
2. Cash mob our new neighbors! Sure the doors will be locked at 2851 Johnson Street for the time being, but the bakery next door is open now, and has been for over 30 years. So go to Sarah Jane’s Bakery and buy some goodies. Then ask for Sarah or Kevin, and give them a big hug for giving us this opportunity. They own the building (2851 Johnson St.), and operate the bakery (next door). They’re good folks. Their treats are amazing and made from scratch. The trip will be worth it.
3. Last but not least: SHARE THIS PROJECT! Pass it on. Tell your foodie friends that you're helping build a restaurant. Tell the media there's a great story here. Post to your Facebook page that you'll be getting exclusive project updates. Tweet about your sweet rewards. Help build buzz! The more donors, the better the odds are for us to be able to bring Caribe’s Mofongo & tres leches cake to NE Minneapolis!
We poured our hearts & souls into the first Caribe and we’ll do it again. And we’ll do it better. Tony is an owner who actually works in his kitchen daily, I’ll be painting like crazy once again, and helping with all things behind-the-scenes as before. We’ll take on the risks, do the hard work, and deliver the great food and experience you’ve come to love.
And a note to Waite Park School and other area schools, we already plan to donate gift certificates to your fundraising efforts in the future, should we get into this space. We want to support our (hopeful) new neighborhood!
OUR STORY: THE LONG VERSION
April 2010, in pursuit of a dream, we opened our first restaurant, Caribe Caribbean Bistro on Raymond Ave. in St. Paul, Minnesota. The tiny space we transformed into our own tropical oasis. We meticulously painted every square inch of the place in bright tropical colors, including a 20-foot mural on one wall. Expecting nothing more than a chance to offer up something unique to the Twin Cities’ dining scene while doing something we love, we were blown away by the positive response from customers and food critics. Our first year was a success.
What was Caribe (“ca-rEE-bay”)? Jerk chicken, empanadillas, doubles, and the oh-so-popular mofongo special of the day. Caribbean food, cooked in house, from scratch. Craft beer & house-made sangria. It was a happy place. A mini vacation. An island in the city. A cozy little space to have a mimosa and eggs benedict over conch fritters on a Sunday. A colorful place to celebrate a birthday. A gathering space for friends. A bright spot in the neighborhood. A labor of love by our family.
Then construction began a block away to build a light rail line. In a nutshell, we had no idea it would be so bad, affect us for so long, and ultimately lead to our closing.
Months ago “just looking” turned into touring a space we’ve always thought would be a good fit for Caribe but availability and funding just never worked out: 2851 Johnson Street in the Audobon neighborhood of NE Minneapolis. Thinking naïvely we could just get a business loan from the bank and start over, we hit a wall…and another…and another. To date, we've been turned down by 8 banks for a loan due largely to the fact that our business “wasn’t currently profitable,” among other new restrictions & regulations that have the bankers hands tied & lending scarce. It doesn't help that our business is a restaurant, an industry the banks are not fond of to begin with. Another Caribe in the near future was looking bleak.
Meanwhile we finally had to close Caribe, after pouring our personal income into keeping it afloat. Around the same time, were told the 2851 Johnson Space had been sold. Bummed about that space no longer being available, but optimistic Tony could find a cooking job, we were ready to embrace whatever God threw our way, and still are, whether it be a job or another restaurant.
Then came the email.
The owners of the restaurant at 2851 Johnson Street contacted us to let us know that the sale had fallen through; the buyer had backed out and the space was available again. They wanted Caribe there, however they could help make it possible.
Nope it wasn’t a dream.
We have now been presented with an incredible opportunity.
And an incredible challenge: IF we are able to raise start-up funds in 30 days here on kickstarter, Caribe 2.0 will become a reality as early as this summer.
If we don’t raise this start up money, no restaurant.
So now, it really is all up to YOU!
If you want to bring Caribe back to life in Northeast Minneapolis, let's make it happen together!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Scroll down to the bottom here for FAQ's. Feel free to ask us questions, and we'll do our best to answer them here.
Below is a post card we are handing out during the 30 day fundraising period.
Feel free to download, print, hang up, post to your blog, or pass around. If you'd like the high resolution PDF, just let me know & I'll email it to you.
Want a stack of them for your business or to hand out to your neighbors? Just let us know, we'll be happy to drop off as many printed post cards as you need!
Email Heidi at: heidi @ caribemn.com (without the spaces)