Umami to close after all

RICK NELSON | Updated 11/27/2013

It looked as if Travail's Asian pop-up restaurant in north Minneapolis was going to stick around, but the ownership team has decided to pull the plug.

 
Staff demonstrates how to use chopsticks to a table at Umami.
 
Well, it was fun while it lasted.
 
That’s what diners will – or at least should be – thinking on Dec. 22nd, when Umami by Travail serves its last meal.
 
Follow the bouncing shrimp toast: The total blast of a pop-up restaurant, the work of the seemingly bottomless pit of culinary energy and creativity behind Travail Kitchen and Amusements, originally opened for a short run in mid-September in the hastily renovated confines of a former fast-food fried chicken outlet on W. Broadway Avenue in Minneapolis.
 
After the original concept – Asian comfort food, served Travail-style in a multi-course, single-price format at large communal tables – proved popular, Travail co-owners Bob Gerken, Mike Brown (pictured above, right) and James Winberg decided to keep the place open and reprogrammed the kitchen into a dim sum-inspired operation.
 
Unfortunately, the demands of what they describe as a "manageable side project" are proving to be too unsustainable. With their new version of Travail – and its casual sibling the Rookery – nearing completion in Robbinsdale, the team has decided to pull the plug on Umami after all.
 
“Umami is not leaving because the business was unsuccessful, but rather because its success came at a time when the organization was already overextended,” the partnership said in a statement. “The restaurant was busy and buzzworthy and it demanded too much of the Travail team’s resources in terms of chefs, kitchen equipment, time and energy.”
 
Tickets for the remaining dates at Umami will go on sale here at 10 a.m. Wednesday (Nov. 27). Prices, which include food, tax and tip are $30 on Wednesday and Thursday, $40 on Friday and Saturday and $40 for Sunday brunch. If you haven't been, go, and hurry: space is limited. 
 
Meanwhile, construction continues on the new Travail and the Rookery in downtown Robbinsdale. No opening date has been announced, but the Travail ownership team is currently projecting a soft opening shortly after Jan. 1.
 

[Photo: Leslie Plesser]