A new restaurant is coming to Smith Avenue, here’s how you can help (updated)

A renowned local chef wants to breathe new life into this vacant space on Smith Avenue.

If you live in the Smith Avenue neighborhood and want to see new upscale dining options in the neighborhood, it’s very important you come to the West St. Paul city council meeting tonight. (UPDATE: The city council approved a liquor license for the restaurant and is working to approve a permit for outdoor seating once new plans are finalized. Thanks to everyone who came out to speak!)

Robert and Ann Ulrich, the owners of Mendoberri in Mendota Heights, are planning to open a new restaurant called FoodSmith at 973/975 Smith Avenue. The building, which until recently was home to Deckci Deco/Cici Events, had previously been vacant for several years.

In their application, the Ulrichs say they have an agreement to purchase the building and plan to open a “bistro-pub” concept, focusing on a chef-driven menu along with beer and wine. The Ulrichs also highlight how their restaurant will help realize some of the goals of the Smith Avenue Revitalization Plan by introducing a new dining option along with outdoor seating.

Last week, the West St. Paul planning commission unanimously recommended approval of a liquor license and a permit for the outdoor seating area. As indicated in the planning commission’s report, some neighbors have already started complaining about parking, even though the owners are working to secure an agreement with the Doddway shopping center across the street, which has abundant parking in the evening.

The West St. Paul City Council will take up the issue tonight in a public hearing, as part of the regular meeting that starts at 6:30 p.m. Please show up, or call or email Ward 3 council members John Bellows and Dave Napier if you support this new restaurant and want to see it approved.