Aster Cafe reboots, gets the 318 Cafe treatment
Remember the Aster Cafe? The what? Yeah, that's what I thought. The low-profile St. Anthony Main cafe has been around for years doing little more than hovering under most people's radars. But that may soon change.
Matty O'Reilly, owner of the 318 Cafe in Excelsior, has taken over the Aster from John Rimarcik, who owns so many properties (and other restaurants including the Kitty Kat Club and the Monte Carlo) in Minneapolis that he was probably never able to devote much energy to the Aster. Having recently sold his share in the Green Room, O'Reilly has turned his attention to the Aster, remaking it as a more neighborhood friendly spot in the same vein as the 318, which is basically a coffee shop with benefits, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts, baked goods, beer, and wine. The 318 has a great live music program and Aster plans on launching one in the fall, as well.
O'Reilly makes the point--and I agree with him--that Main Street real estate hasn't yet reached its potential. He hopes the music will renew the cafe's appeal once patio season is over. "I want to fight for it to not feel like a resort town street," he says. "It's a great street in the winter."
O'Reilly reconfigured the room and updated the décor, but the place doesn't look drastically different. After a soft opening this weekend, the rebooted Aster should feel more contemporary with its updated menu of everything from flatbread pizzas to cheese plates, all priced less than $10, along with it's new wine list and 12 beer taps, including lots of locals and Belgians.
One thing O'Reilly isn't changing is the name, which recalls the old Aster movie theater and helps preserve a piece of Minneapolis history. He says he believes that the riverfront building dates from the mid 1850s and was one of the first, if not the first, brick and mortar buildings in the city. The Aster is open 7 a.m to midnight daily.