Building for Buzz: How Shea-designed restaurants keep their status as the hottest in town

Building buzz around a new restaurant is easy—the space is fresh, the food is exciting, the energy is high. And while occasionally changing design and menu features can keep things interesting, it takes more than that for a restaurant to survive—especially with the constant rate of restaurant openings trying to attract the same clientele. It’s about coming up with a great concept and providing that full experience to diners who have their pick of places to nosh. Shea builds brands and designs with longevity. We set restaurants apart from their surroundings, drawing those who live in the neighborhood but also creating destination-worthy gems, ensuring that restaurants remain hotspots and poising them for growth.

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Butcher & the Boar

James Beard award-winning Butcher & the Boar is one of Shea’s greatest concept and space transformations to date, turning a long-vacant, crumbling building into a Minneapolis mainstay. On the edge of downtown Minneapolis, where expense-account restaurants rule, the meat-and-bourbon centric eatery is a fresh concept designed to stand the test of time—it will forever be a breath of fresh air in the area, with high-end food and design in a relaxed atmosphere.

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Traditional and timeless décor complements Butcher’s robust concept and cuisine, with an open kitchen at the restaurant’s heart to emphasize its chef-driven nature. The design sets itself apart from that of many Midwestern restaurants, utilizing rich bronze and copper tones that are more “Kentucky Bourbon” than “Minnesota Nice.” Dark reclaimed wood walls bring elegance, treated by the Japanese burning technique shou-sugi-ban.

A stable of timeless, meticulous details went into the creation or Butcher, ensuring that it won’t get tired. The bar floor, tiled with more than 300,000 pennies, is a dining-room showstopper, and real copper was added to the paint on the walls. A rolled-edge zinc bar, tufted banquettes, and velvet finishes bring softness to the overall masculine space, highlighting its more elegant features. It’s these details that give the restaurant its overall luxurious vibe without crossing over into fussy territory—the exterior is covered by a hip 170-foot mural by artist Adam Turman, depicting Minnesota’s ever-changing seasons, and the backyard beer garden is a perfectly crafted spot to kick back with a brew.

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World Street Kitchen

From its origins as a food truck, World Street Kitchen has never had any trouble drawing a crowd with its overstuffed burritos and “Yum Yum” rice bowls. When head Chef Sameh Wadi decided it was time to open a brick-and-mortar joint in the bustling Minneapolis Lyn-Lake neighborhood, he looked to Shea to create a space that would serve as the perfect backdrop for his global-fusion flavors, with potential for expansion later on.

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Lyn-Lake is an area of ever-rotating restaurants, and Shea wanted to make sure that World Street’s inventive concept stuck around—so it needed to be more than your regular counter-service spot. Our team brought the food truck to life with an urban design that puts Chef Sameh’s food at center stage—literally, with an open kitchen, where diners can sidle right up to the cooks at a long metal bar. Wood-fronted counters, exposed ductwork, and industrial metal stools and chairs give the space an element of cool that no other spot on Lyndale has, and revolutionized quick-service design style in Minneapolis.

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Punchy décor pieces bring a little warmth to the minimal space, including painted light fixtures over the bar, inspired by jars, and a lit-up “Eat WSK” sign that brings life to the room, echoing the way that the restaurant’s marquee-like façade lights up Lyndale Avenue. And bold artwork brings World Street right back to its roots, showing off close-up features of the beloved red truck. The minimal style can be switched up as easily as the chef’s flavors, giving diners yet another reason to keep coming back.

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CoV Wayzata

It doesn’t get more timeless than the clean beachside style of the Hamptons, but bringing that spirit to the Land of 10,000 Lakes without crossing into dated, kitschy territory was no small feat. To keep the CoV buzz alive—throughout the winter, when the patio doors are closed, and further into time—the Shea team had to create a space that evoked the most classic aspects of East Coast beach life, adapting them for Minnesota practicality.

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The patio at CoV is an always-packed, ever-buzzing space when the weather turns warm. Loungey furniture and chic umbrellas give it a real dockside feel, perfect for sipping wine and languishing over lobster salad. But the interior design draws diners by providing a haven, featuring walls flanked with planked siding and soaring ceilings with whitewashed rafters. The fresh blue-and-white palette brings a breezy coastal vibe to the space, illuminated by glass globes, that’s an always-appealing escape. And a central fireplace keeps the space cozy without seeming out of place, luring diners with its crackling warmth. Not only has CoV been busy since its 2014 opening, but the restaurant has expanded to a second location in Edina, proving its lasting conceptual appeal.

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