By C. Rick Jourdan and Sarah Kowal
Talk to Brian Ingram and the first thing you notice is his enthusiasm and passion for food and the restaurant business. The second thing you notice is he’s making you hungry!
Brian is the creator behind two of the Twin Cities’ hottest restaurants: the New Bohemia Wurst + BierHaus, with seven locations across the metro, and the inventive new Seventh Street Truck Park in downtown St. Paul.
But it’s hard to know what to call him…restaurateur, entrepreneur, concept innovator, chef, CEO, burgeoning celebrity chef, or simply a smashing success!
Brian turned 15 years of managerial experience in restaurants and opening 100 Macaroni Grills into two of the freshest and most innovative concepts in the nation. He sees being different, new and exciting as being a key to succeeding in a crowded restaurant market.
Different is Good Business
Today’s restaurant consumer is more sophisticated and is looking for not only great food but for a unique dining experience as well. What Brian has done is a perfect example of differentiating oneself with a distinctive restaurant concept and that is his key to his successes.
Brian says he likes doing something that hasn’t been done before the niche existed and “blow it up. People are into being authentic with great food.” Brian says he wanted to create something comfortable, “Instagrammable”.
But when that new concept is also designed to be more efficient in terms of staffing, it can also save on operating costs.
“At each New Bohemia, our labor is 8 staff vs. a more traditional 30 at this type of restaurant. At the Seventh Street Truck Park, a staff of 50 would be a typical number where we only have a staff of 12 because of the efficiency of the food truck concept,” Brian commented.
“With minimum wage hikes coming in the city of Minneapolis, this concept makes sense for people to come to their food at the truck rather than being served at their table. Our trucks have tip jars and the average food truck employee makes about $45 per hour.”
Standing Out in the Crowd
“With so many people watching the food network and all the cooking shows, everyone thinks they’re a chef today. The typical restaurant concept is getting tired and worn. So I think being innovative and exciting, with unique food choices, is critical for success,” Brian said.
That’s exactly what he’s done with the New Bohemia Wurst + BierHaus, opened in 2013. The restaurant won the Hot Concepts Award in 2017 from the Nation’s Restaurant News. Inspired by the Bavarian bier hall celebratory tradition of great sausages and signature beers, with an American twist, New Bohemia serves all-natural sausages, custom-blended burgers, giant pretzels and 36 local craft beers. The restaurant and food is so popular that Brian recently opened his seventh location with more restaurants opening soon across the US.
The Best Wurst Menu…and More
What brings ‘em in? Diners can start with a signature item like the Giant Bavarian Pretzel, topped with pepper jack cheese, or hand-breaded kosher dill pickle spears. For the entrée, there are 24 classic and creative wursts–like Surly or Hellfire beer brats, MN wild rice and asiago brats, New Orleans Cajun and andouille sausage or chicken and Fuji apple—just for starters. Want something more exotic? Try the alligator, wild boar or rabbit, and rattlesnake sausage. Or order a custom burger. All the food at New Bohemia features no artificial ingredients or nitrates and is made from scratch with locally-sourced ingredients.
“What’s a great German dining experience without a great beer,” Brian commented. “Our guests can get 36 different local craft beers without having to visit 36 different breweries.”
New Seventh Street Truck Park
And now for something completely different—the unique Seventh Street Truck Park. It’s a highly- innovative concept for those who want to get the feeling of “roughing it” and dining at a campsite, only indoors and right in the heart of St. Paul–across from the Excel Energy Center.
“It’s my great indoor concept,” Brian said. “It’s a campsite-styled food truck court with a collection of vintage, retrofitted food trucks rimming the perimeter of a converted warehouse. It’s like a food trailer park, with each truck serving a different specialty item. In the summer we open the doors and let the outside in.”
In addition to the food truck concept, the food is the great differentiator at Seventh Street Truck Park. “The Truck Park menu is designed to serve comfort foods that relate to childhood memories. And I wanted to create a place where my friends would want to hang out,” said Brian.
And what a menu it is! The huge pizzas feature slices as large as a normal pizza and come with toppings from classic to creative to exotic. Toppings include mac and cheese or taco, to the unexpected—like alligator, rattlesnake or the Minnesota Wild pizza with deer and elk. Creative grilled cheese sandwiches include one with mascarpone cheese, fresh berries and topped with caramelized sugar butter. Want a memorably filling and delicious dessert? Try the giant 20 lb. ice cream sandwich made from huge T Rex Cookies and filled with pints of Sebastian Joe’s ice cream in the middle.
What’s a camping adventure without the drinks? Three trucks are dedicated just to serving fun beverages. You’ll find affordable, blue-collar beers or the 40 Oz. Stanley Stein served in take-home beer stein shaped like the famed hockey trophy. Share a cheap bottle of Ripple or Mad Dog wine. Reminisce with a spiked Kool-Aid cocktail. Or for a true taste treat, order the S’more Beer made with a specialty chocolate stout, cocoa and marshmallows. The beer glass is rimmed with marshmallow fluff, fudge, and graham crackers. It’s like a dinner and dessert beer all in one!
Perhaps good business is seldom this much fun and delicious!
Brian Ingram Restaurants – At A Glance
Restaurant: New Bohemia Wurst+BierHaus
Specialty: Patterned after a classic Bavarian bier hall atmosphere serving all-natural sausages, custom-blended burgers, giant pretzels & 36 local craft beers.
Since 2013: Owner—Brian Ingram
8 staff members: At each of 7 locations
Locations: St. Paul, In Minneapolis: Northeast & Lake St., Golden Valley, Roseville, Eagan, Mankato
Restaurant: Seventh Street Truck Park
Specialty: A campsite-styled food truck court with a collection of vintage, retrofitted food trucks rimming the perimeter of a converted warehouse. Serving a unique menu of comfort foods that relate to childhood memories.
Since 2017: Owner—Brian Ingram
12 staff members
Locations: St. Paul, across from the Excel Energy Center
Accolades & Appearances
2017 Nation’s Restaurant News Hot Concept Winner
2018 Nation’s Restaurant News Power List Readers’ Choice
2018 Guy’s Grocery Games Food Network
2018 Carnival Eats Food Network
2018 Man VS Foods Travel Channel
2018 Food Paradise Travel Channel
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