Alexia Nizhny / Manitou Messenger

There’s a new place downtown that’s shaking up the local bar and restaurant scene. Reunion is a polished casual restaurant serving American cuisine on Division Street. Although they have only been open since April, they have already made an impression, revamping their corner of Division Street and drawing flocks of college students each Thursday.

According to frequenters of the new eatery, Reunion has been successful at creating an upscale dining experience that keeps college students returning. Jack O’Hara ’20 remarked on the restaurant’s leather furniture and complimented the bar setup, outdoor patio and dance area. Jon Thomas ’20 and Luke Wallace ’20 also spoke favorably of the ambiance, layout and patio.

The chic, modern look was no mistake.

“Our original vision was to have a polished casual restaurant with an industrial-type feel to it,” said Reunion manager Chad Jenkinson. “We wanted the restaurant to be urban and rustic.”

The sleek interior design came on the back of a major remodel of the former J. Grundy’s Rueb ‘N’ Stein space in which three buildings were torn down. Reunion’s six-person ownership group, of which Jenkinson is a part, hired Northfield Construction Company as contractor and Dave Medin as architect. A $100,000 loan from the city helped finance the overhaul and went towards new sidewalks that meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, Jenkinson said.

The group also owns The Tavern of Northfield, another Division Street restaurant that recently closed after a fire damaged the interior. Repair work is underway, though there isn’t an opening date yet, Jenkinson said.

Similar to that of the Tavern, Reunion’s menu is dominated by protein-heavy American fare, much of which is cooked over a woodfire grill. It also features sandwiches, shareable plates and salads.

Most students, however, don’t come for the food. The bar’s happy hour and late-night happy hour specials are a bit more enticing. Happy hour is 4-6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and late-night happy hour is 9 p.m. to close every day of the week.

Thanks in large part to the happy hour deals and chic interior, Reunion has supplanted Froggy Bottoms River Pub as the primary Thursday-night destination for drinking-age students. Froggy’s, now under new management, no longer hosts a DJ on Thursday nights and eliminated its Thursday-night special, contributing further to students’ shift towards Reunion. Froggy’s did not respond to requests for comment.

Jenkinson hopes Reunion can be both a gathering space for residents and a destination spot for visitors. He also hopes to support local businesses. Reunion buys its bread products from nearby Brick Oven Bakery, for instance, and gets its cakes from Cakewalk.
“I’ve been in the restaurant world for 27 years but when it comes to Reunion, what I like best is the community of Northfield and the support that we’ve received,” Jenkinson said. “Hearing people say that this is what Northfield needed is nice to hear.”

carlen1@stolaf.edu

nizhny1@stolaf.edu