Vincent Francoual, chef and part-owner of the restaurant at 11th & Nicollet, said business is up 30 to 40 percent since early February when musicians returned to Orchestra Hall after finalizing terms of a contract agreement that put an end to a 15-month lockout.
“It was a really good feeling when the Orchestra came back,” Francoual said during an interview at his restaurant earlier this week. “We stayed neutral. We had friends on both sides.”
Vincent’s launched a catering company in 2013 to help offset losses when business slowed down during the lockout. The restaurant also ramped up promotions for lunch specials and happy hours.
Brit’s general manager Shane Higgins said the pub, which is next door to Vincent’s, has also seen an influx of customers on weekend nights before Orchestra events.
Francoul and Higgins said they are also supportive of the $50 million Nicollet Mall redesign project, which appears poised to receive $20 million in state bonding this session.
They both advocate making it a more pedestrian-focused street and would like to see less bus traffic. They noted how pleasant it was for restaurants along Nicollet Mall during the Metro Transit strike in 2004 when there was no bus traffic.
They also said they would like to see a revitalized Peavey Plaza with more green space and year-around activities.
City leaders had plans for a major makeover of the plaza, but preservationists blocked the proposal. Under terms of a settlement approved last fall, the preservations and city leaders are working on a plan to update the plaza while maintaining its historic features.
Vincent Francoual (left) and Shane Higgins.