So I got the news a couple days back from a source that Volunteer Park Cafe (1501 17th Avenue East) was going to be expanding. I thought maybe a few more seats out behind the joint, a second dining room to handle the overflow crowds at this little neighborhood house-turned-restaurant, something like that.
I couldn't have been more wrong.
What's actually going on is a massive project by Heather Earnhardt and Ericka Burke to make use of the yard behind the cafe and re-do some of interior details of the existing space. We're talking a big gardening project that's already underway with raised beds, kitchen herbs (basil, mint, sorrel, borage and chives), edible flowers and heirloom vegetables that I've never even heard of (French breakfast radish? Pruden's purple tomatoes? Minnesota Midget Melon--which, not for nothing, is also the name I would wrestle under as a Lucha Libre competitor if ever given the chance).There's new outdoor seating going in on a patio built from bricks reclaimed from Capitol Hill's Packard Building. When that's done, it'll be set with custom chairs and tables also made from reclaimed wood, padded out with cushions made from reclaimed burlap coffee sacks and arranged around a brand new barrel BBQ made for outdoor prix fixe dinners--simple grilled meats or fish and local grilled veggies for a single price, served at lunch and dinner. Needless to say, the "new" BBQ is also being made from reclaimed materials. Probably the timbers of ancient sailing vessels and the souls of old pit men gone to their final reward.
VPC is bringing in their own chickens--laying hens, actually--to provide eggs (or, rather, to supplement the eggs already produced by the chickens that live at Earnhardt's house) for the kitchen and fertilizer for the gardens, and when all of this is done--when the patio is finished and the gardens are producing and the chickens are laying and all is right with the world--VPC is going to be rolling out a series of Sunday Suppers: three-course family style meals served in the garden with menus depending entirely on the whims of the chef and the caprice of Mother Nature. These dinners are scheduled to start June 27, go off the last Sunday of each month, and run through the end of September.