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Monday, December 5, 2022

New Bar Cart Lounge and Restaurant will soon open in former Khyber Pass space

Ralena Young and Brian Riess have collaborated over the last quarter-century. She was his employer, and he was hers. Despite everything, they established a bond and a dream.

Next month, they will launch their first restaurant and cocktail bar, Bar Cart Lounge and Restaurant, at the old Khyber Pass Cafe on Grand Avenue in St. Paul.

Long and winding are the tale of how the new space came to be, but the former employees of Suburban restaurant behemoth Eyes Wide Hospitality Group (Mezcalito Butcher, Tequila Butcher, Farmer, and the Fishmonger, and others) say that their shared values regarding customer service and employee treatment fueled the project.

“Being a bartender, having people from different walks of life and professions come in, when they’re sitting in front of me, they can be themselves and forget about their day’s difficulties,” Riess said. “However, after a time, you no longer want to work for anybody else. You just want to do your own thing for yourself. When we began to really discuss creating a business together.”

Mashal Sherzad’s parents, who had owned Khyber Pass for 37 years, decided to sell following the epidemic.

Young said, “Initially, I did not see the space as an opportunity.” “I went into guardian mode in an effort to assist them in navigating the procedure.”

However, she eventually came around to the concept of occupying the area. However, banks were unwilling to lend the two industry veterans money and were hesitant to cede control to an investor.

Consequently, they negotiated a payment plan with Masooda and Emel Sherzad and budgeted every dime necessary to make the room their own. They themselves have remodeled, furnished, and renamed the facility.

Young said, “We are all sort of working together to make this happen.”

Young, who was previously in charge of the cocktail programming at Eyes Wide, will return to the kitchen for the restaurant’s opening. Her opening menu included appetizers such as hummus, whipped feta, and tuna tartare, as well as sandwiches, nachos, wings, and entrees such as skirt steak, pan-seared chicken, and short rib.

At the conclusion of their employment with the firm, Riess managed the bar at Volstead House. They will collaborate on the menu for the specialty cocktails.

They plan to begin on December 1 and want to offer gift cards on Black Friday. The first 100 individuals who purchase a gift card will get a permanent 10% discount. For additional information, you may follow them on Facebook (facebook.com/barcartlounge).

They’ll be open until 11 on weekdays and midnight on weekends, and they’ll serve food until they shut, which is wonderful news for hospitality workers and anybody wanting a late-night supper in the region.

The business concept at Bar Cart will be progressive; they will implement a service fee and give all employees an equal salary. In this manner, workers may and will learn new jobs. This will not only aid with schedule flexibility, but it will also offer those employees the confidence they need to one day start their own enterprises.

“If you remove money from the equation, kids have the opportunity to understand every aspect of the sector,” said Young. “We like instructing and seeing others learn.”

Both Young and Riess are thrilled to have such a tiny area — 55 seats — so that they can provide the type of personalized service they believe clients want during the epidemic.

Young said, “We want you to feel like you really visited our home.” “The room is so tiny that I can see you enter from the kitchen, and if I do, I’ll call your name.”

Cedric Blackwater
Cedric Blackwater
Cedric is a journalist with over a decade of experience reporting on local US news, and touching on many global topics. He is currently the lead writer for Bulletin News.

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