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Brazilian steakhouse Bullvinos opening in former Octo Fishbar space

Dec 1, 2020, 12:17pm CST

Tanya Spaulding, Shea Design The former Octo Fishbar space in Lowertown St. Paul is set to become Bullvinos, a new Brazilian steakhouse. Bullvinos Churrascaria, a new Brazilian steakhouse, is set to take over the former Octo Fishbar space in Lowertown St. Paul. Co-owners Marcio Demorais and Nate Uherka signed a lease last week for the 11,800-square-foot restaurant space, according to Caspian Group, the Edina-based brokerage that represented both the landlord and tenants in the deal. Caspian Group principal Rafik Moore also manages Urban Creative LLC, an Edina-based company that owns five spaces inside the Lowertown building, previously home to the defunct Market House Collaborative. Demorais and Uherka are part of the ownership group behind Grill Hall Churrascaria, a Brazilian steakhouse in Maple Grove that opened in 2018. They aim to open Bullvinos by March 1, and possibly earlier. A native of Passo Fundo in southern Brazil, Demorais previously spent over a decade at the Minneapolis location of Fogo de Chao, a steakhouse chain founded in 1979 in Brazil that now has more than 50 restaurants on three continents. He and Uherka signed the lease for their new restaurant just as the state’s hospitality industry was beginning a four-week pause on in- person service. Meant to counter a sharp uptick in Covid-19 infections, the second dial-back of the year for restaurants is scheduled to run through Dec. 18, although many in the industry expect Gov. Tim Walz will extend his order unless there’s a dramatic turnaround in the pandemic. That uncertainty, and the difficult operating conditions for restaurants during the pandemic, helped Demorais and Uherka negotiate favorable lease terms. They have the financial breathing room to open in two or three months, even if the reopening of dining rooms comes with a return to 50% capacity restrictions, Demorais said. He said the proximity CHS Field, home to the St. Paul Saints baseball team, was part of what made the location appealing. He expected Bullvinos would draw customers from across the east metro and even western Wisconsin, adding that Grill Hall Churrascaria frequently welcomes guests from across the border. At full capacity, the restaurant would have room for 300 guests, Demorais said. The space’s previous tenant, Octo Fishbar, closed permanently in July. The restaurant, helmed by James Beard Award-winning chef Tim McKee, was the centerpiece of the Market House Collaborative, a market and food hall. The 3-year-old food hall unwound during the pandemic. The last of the original tenants, Birch’s Lowertown, closed Oct. 17. Caspian Group Vice President Marshall Nguyen said True Stone Coffee Roasters still has a café open in the space. Another late addition to the Market House Collaborative, Argentinian charcuterie and pie concept Quebracho, continues to use its space in the hall for a production kitchen. Nguyen said a successful Bullvinos could expand its footprint inside the building, which until 2016 was home to chef Lenny Russo’s Heartland Restaurant & Farm Direct Market. “In the future, our plan is to hopefully have Bullvinos take over the brewery,” Nguyen said, referring to the space formerly leased by Birch’s. Nguyen and Caspian Group associate Jay Mawas represented the tenant in lease negotiations, while Caspian Group COO Patrick Corbett

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