Centro Restaurant Group is expanding around the metro, now with burgers and banana cream pie in tow. First stop: Nicollet Avenue
Fast-casual Mexican restaurant Centro’s newest location opens on Eat Street in the former Wedge Table building this Wednesday, August 3. The same savory tacos, enchiladas, and crunch wraps from the Northeast location are on the menu — sister cafe and bakery Vivir will tag along too, and serve an abbreviated menu of breakfast tacos, burritos, and snacks. (The menu’s tres leches cake and chocolate mole cupcakes are also making the move to Eat Street.) This time around, owner Jami Olson, chef Jose Alarcon, pastry director Ngia Xiong, and beverage director Tye Sullivan have added a new twist: Everywhen Burger Bar, a smash burger concept that will live in the Eat Street building.
“They’re high-quality fast food smash burgers,” says Sullivan. “We knew we were pairing them with our very fast taco concept, so we wanted to make a burger we could deliver with the same speed and quality.” Centro bought some high-tech burger-making equipment to achieve a consistent texture — the same machine, says Sullivan, that McDonald’s uses to smash its burgers. The patties are served on Xiong’s pillowy housemade brioche buns. The Everywhen menu also features chicken sandwiches, hand-cut fries, tater tots, and salads. But perhaps most enticing is the dessert menu, which includes fluffy, rich banana cream and pineapple cream pies, and malted ice cream cookie sandwiches.
The new Centro mirrors much of the Northeast location’s design: pink walls, wood accents, and a mod bar from local firm Shea Design, colorful floral cross stitches by artist Third Daughter Restless Daughter. There’s communal seating, a patio, and a food hall feel — Centro, Vivir, and Everywhen all have their own counters. But it’s much more than a sister restaurant: Olson, Alarcon, and the team have a larger plan to expand Centro throughout the Twin Cities. A 6,000-square-foot Highland Park spot, which will house a fully-fledged Everywhen menu, is up next. Originally, that spot was slated to open this fall, but Olson says equipment delays have pushed it to late winter or early spring of 2023.
From there, Centro will continue to expand throughout the metro, though likely at locations with smaller footprints. “We’re growing the Centro brand,” says Olson. “But this will allow us to potentially — if we see success with Everywhen — to grow that brand as well. If we go into a neighborhood that already has tacos, and I find a great space, and maybe it makes more sense for burgers, then we can pop that Everywhen concept into that space.” The new Eat Street location, meanwhile, will become a central hub for all of Centro’s operations — with 8,000 square feet of kitchen space alone, it can cater, deliver, and ship product out to other restaurants. Olson says that in a year or so, they’d like to start making their own tortillas.
The new Centro joins some of Minneapolis’s most beloved, long-held restaurants on the Eat Street corridor, from Rainbow Chinese and Black Forest Inn (both recent recipients of historic small restaurant preservation grant, according to Bring Me The News) to Quang and Lu’s Sandwiches. The Centro team is thrilled to be a part of such a vibrant food hotspot for the Cities, Olson says. It’s not the only newcomer, either: Eat Street Crossing, a new food hall by the owners of Bebe Zito and Zen Box Izakaya, plus local bar veteran Trish Gavin, is in the works in the Old Arizona building. “I’m so excited,” says Olson. “No matter what transition the city’s gone through, all these restaurants have been around for a very, very long time. All their doors are still open. I think that the combination of restaurants that have held down the street for so long and the new concepts will bring a little bit of fresh energy.”
The new Centro will open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner service starting August 4, with brunch launching not long after opening.