BY GABE LICHT
DELANO, MN Adam and Tara King have lived in Delano for 14 years, and have wanted to open a restaurant in town for a number of years.
“We always wanted to open something here in Delano,” Tara said. “We did try a few years back, but it wasn’t the right time for us.”
“The timing was right this time,” Adam said.
The two recently opened The King House Restaurant and Bar at 725 Babcock Blvd. E.
Adam has been working in kitchens since he was in high school, when he worked at Billy’s Lighthouse.
He went on to work at restaurants in Montana while attending Montana State University, where he met Tara.
They moved back to Minnesota, where they both worked in the restaurant business.
“I started working at Campiello in Eden Prairie, which is owned by D’Amico and Partners,” Tara said. “They were opening a new restaurant in Minneapolis, Café Lurcat, and I was talking to my general manager and she said they may be looking for cooks. Adam started on the salad station, which is the lower end of the line there. Within a year, he was sous chef, and within two years, he was executive chef.”
Adam worked there for a total of 14 years, but never liked the commute.
So, when the Delano location became available, the Kings looked into the possibility of opening a restaurant there.
“I talked to Mike Bauer (of Bauer Design Build) and kind of asked him, and some of his architects came out. I said, ‘Could we turn this into a restaurant?’” Adam said. “I spent a lot of time making little drawings at home, trying to see if I could fit a kitchen in here. As it was, I just couldn’t do it. It wasn’t going to work unless we wanted four tables. Mike had suggested making it bigger . . . We spent a lot of time figuring out whether or not we could afford to do it.”
After a year’s worth of planning, the restaurant has come to fruition. Adam believes The King House is a good fit for Delano.
“My vision, I guess, was always to have a place similar to how I feel my personality is and how Delano itself is: humble, but at the same time, there’s sophistication there,” Adam said. “It’s not a downtown, flashy kind of place, but with good quality.”
It features a menu that includes a variety of appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, flatbreads, pasta dishes, and entrees such as steak and pot roast.
“We just wanted fresh cooking, fresh food,” Adam said. “I spent a lot of time as the executive chef expediting, running numbers, and tracking numbers, and not as much time cooking. I wanted to get back to cooking . . . That’s the fun part: making bread from scratch, making pasta from scratch, braising meats. Those kinds of things are fun. I was hoping to be able to do simple food, focusing on letting ingredients shine through.”
Tara added that the couple did not want the menu to be too complex so “people are going to look at the menu and not have a bunch of questions.”
Adam is proud of his kitchen staff, and believes they are enjoying learning new things at his restaurant.
“It’s neat to see people get excited about cooking,” Adam said. “I think the ultimate goal is, no matter what it is we put on, we want to be proud of it and make it as good as we can, within the limitations of reality.”
One of the limitations is time.
“The amount of prep work it takes to do this from scratch is a lot,” Adam said. “These guys are working so hard back there. They’re prepping all morning and all day to get through lunch and dinner . . . We’re figuring it out. When we first opened, we’d make something and it would be gone right after lunch. Now, we’re in the mode that we make enough to get through a day or two. It’s a little easier.”
The kitchen is led by chef James Leeder-Botnan.
“It’s my first time as an owner,” Adam said. “I don’t think I’ll be able to do everything like I thought. I’ve worked with James in the past. He’s super passionate about cooking and food. I wanted somebody to match the passion that I have. He’s also a great trainer.”
Tara also believes the front of the house is in good hands.
“I have two wonderful supervisors who are helping me: Jennifer Christianson and Patty Kewitsch,” Tara said. “They both have a ton of experience in the restaurant business. That’s who I was looking for. People are going to be taken care of, and I don’t have to worry about it. They’ve gone above and beyond for me and I really appreciate it.”
They have set the stage for a relaxing atmosphere.
“We also wanted to, on the front end, have a place where people can come in, relax, and hang out,” Tara said. “We tried to make the bar really fun. I wouldn’t say we’re upscale, but we’re casual upscale.”
She added that the restaurant is family-friendly
“We’ve certainly had a ton of families come in here, kind of like what we like to do,” Tara said. “We have three girls. We like to go out to eat. We don’t want to go to a place where kids are running around everywhere, but we want to feel like we’re not going to get looked at if we bring our kids. We just want a place where people feel like they’re welcome.”
Groups are also welcome at The King House.
“We do have the private room up front,” Tara said. “It’s great for business meeting, lunches, dinners, and parties. It seats about 30 to 35 comfortably.”
The King House is open for lunch 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and open for dinner 4 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with plans to offer Sunday brunch in the future.
The King House can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (763) 251-6470.