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WTF is dining at a 'virtual food hall' like? We're about to find out…

So lifelike, no?

So lifelike, no? Courtesy Kenwood Food & Beverage

In mere days, the Twin Cities is set to discover what it’s like to, erm, graze a food hall, without that last part… the hall. 

On September 30, Luke Shimp, the restaurateur behind local spots Red Cow and Red Rabbit, will open a new dining concept called Kenwood Food & Beverage. On its face, the operation sounds a lot like North Loop Galley in that it is intended to serve as an incubator for new restaurant concepts. The current vendor lineup includes four unique establishments: Chicken Republic, Venice Salads & Bowls, Shakee Shakee, and, of course, Red Cow.  

Through a statement, Shimp said this “allows us to test new concepts prior to opening brick-and-mortar restaurants.” 

The distinctly 2020 element of this enterprise is that you – I, we – cannot visit this food hall. It’s “virtual.” 

“This was a creative opportunity to utilize the Red Cow Uptown space and bring back employees as we evaluate indoor dining with colder weather approaching,” said Shimp. 

It’s nice to know that Keebler elves or White Castle’s spare robots aren't making these meals. Rather, the restaurateur is making use of the space and people within reach to see what sticks, while following pieces of a formula that previously worked.

Heady as the place and concept may be, we hear the food is real! The featured flavors touch on four popular palates: Chicken Republic’s got chicken-based gastropub grub on offer. Venice Salads & Bowls covers the plant-based and gluten-free base. Shakee Shakee brings the milkshake game, and, well, Red Cow does Red Cow.

All four options are to be ordered online for delivery, in an exclusive partnership with DoorDash. No dine-in or carryout options are available, hence (again) virtual food hall. 

Winter is coming, folks. But delivery milkshakes will be here to get us through.