‘I want to set the culinary standard in the west Twin Cities’
Restaurateur Jonathan Campion is bringing a new concept in dining right to his home city of St. Michael.
Campion is the owner of Main Street Farmer, which is under construction at the old Thrifty White Drug building on Main Street just south of Hwy. 241. He hopes to open the restaurant in mid-October.
“We want to make a culinary name for St. Michael and the region here,” Campion said. “I constantly hear from people who are heading up north, ‘Where can we stop to eat for a great dining experience?’ There’s no reason we can’t have a more quality restaurants right here in St. Michael.”
Campion’s plans include “an old-fashioned speak easy bar, with an old barmanship approach,” along with a revolving dining menu that features local ingredients right from the farm.
“The Haus Farm here in St. Michael leases acres of land to more than 40 Hmong families who provide amazing sustained farming produce which is then transported and sold at the Minneapolis and St. Paul farmers markets,” Campion said.
He is working with the families now to keep that produce in St. Michael and in his kitchen during the harvest seasons which in return supports the local farmers by eliminating their transport and other expenses while providing them produce demands from the Main Street Farmer kitchen.
“With our condensed menu and from scratch kitchen approach, we’ll be able to offer more flexible gluten free and vegan options all well,” he said.
His restaurant is meticulously designed, such as fixed bench (pew) seating, “an industrial side to everything and adding color to make it a modern effect,” and vintage wall lamps.
Campion, an Orono native, took his culinary skills overseas. He operated four bars and two restaurants in Poland, living in Krakow and Warsaw. He moved to St. Michael about two years ago with his wife and 8-year-old daughter.
“I decided I’d like to get back in the restaurant business,” he said. “I’ve been networking since I got back to the states. I’ve been in the business a long time and I’ve made a lot of connections.”
He has ties to Wright County, where his grandparents were from Buffalo, and his family has a manufacturing plant in Buffalo.
While the restaurant will offer popular favorites like a pork belly tacos, marinated pork ribs with raw horseradish, kielbasa with sauerkraut, garlic and sage stuffed chicken, among others, it will also have promotional evenings like its Wednesday night Burger Night (featuring various versions). Campion said the menu would also include seasonal concepts, such as duck carpaccio and venison stew. All ingredients will be fresh and “nothing will be frozen, when practical,” Campion said.
“St. Michael is actually a modern farming community and the Main Street Farmer will use modern techniques to prepare and present our food,” he said. “It’s all built on the modern farmer concept.”
Campion has leased the entire building on a 15-year-lease and has future plans for a private function space on the west side of the building for events such as weddings and business functions.
There will also be a private dining section and a chef’s table area where customers can see the kitchen line and interact with Head Chef Aaron Hagerdorn, who was most recently the Executive Head Chef for the Hyatt Hotel in downtown Minneapolis for the past five years.
“We’re going to keep reinventing ourselves,” he said. “I want to set the culinary standard in the west Twin Cities.”