“Nordic/Minnesota/Wisconsin dive bar” is how Jesse Huot describes a new venture with his wife, Liz Huot, called Oskar’s Slider Bar.
While it will have a fully stocked bar with craft and domestic beers and the Scandinavian liquor aquavit, among other offerings, Oskar’s Slider Bar will be family friendly. After all, the restaurant is named after the Huot’s nearly two-year-old son, who Tuesday afternoon was christening the restaurant per a common childhood ritual of dropping Cheerios on the floor.
And as Liz noted: “Everything is automatically kid-sized.”
The menu will include a variety of sliders, which are sandwiches that can be devoured in just a few bites; lefse (Norwegian flatbread) tacos; and Swedish shrimp salad. The average price of a taco or slider will be $3.
Most items will be kept fairly simple with only a couple of toppings. Customers will be able to mix and match their own meals or share with others.
Dishes will “change whenever we get a whim,” Jesse said, later stating that Oskar’s Slider Bar “walks the line” between a restaurant and a bar with food.
Oskar’s Slider Bar is an ode to the Huots’ Norwegian heritage. The full-service establishment, located at 3799 Poplar Level Road, is the second venture for the Huots, who run Grind Burger Kitchen, which was a food truck before it settled into a spot in NuLu.
Despite their prior experience, the pair said Oskar’s Slider Bar had been harder to open than Grind Burger.
“Grind Burger was easy. It was half done,” Liz said.
The space had been a restaurant before, so the kitchen was already built out, and when they made the leap to a brick-and-mortar location, she said, they would sometimes sleep in the restaurant to maximize their work time. Now, with a child, they can’t burn the candles at both ends readying a restaurant.
He’s a toddler, so he’s impatient, Liz said, turning to see if Oskar, seated in a high chair, was still engrossed in the Disney movie “Moana.”
“This was gutted down to a concrete cave,” Jesse said.
With pretty much a blank slate, however, they were able to design the kitchen the way they wanted to help ensure there aren’t overly long waits while food cooks.
For inspiration, the Huots visited nearly two dozen bars in rural Minnesota. They opted for an exposed look with metal beams, refinished concrete floors and open ceilings.
The restaurant is dotted with Nordic-related items such as an elk statue on the back of the bar, giant bear statue in the dining room and a beer carrier for Grain Belt Brewery’s Nordeast. Light fixtures hang on the wall that emit an antler shape.
In the dark, “the antlers shoot all the way to the ceiling,” Jesse said.
The bar was built out of wood, and Jesse created a layered pattern of roughly 800 cedar shake panels above the bar inspired by stave churches found in Norway. They declined to say how much they invested in the renovation.
Oskar’s Slider Bar will seat about 82 in the dining room and at the bar. They also hope to construct a small outdoor patio in the spring.
The restaurant and bar will open sometime next week getting its 10 employees’ feet wet with dinner only before expanding into lunch hours and possibly into later night. The opening hours of operation will be 5 to 10 p.m.
Don’t expect a big opening announcement, though.
“We like the surprise open,” Liz said.