Owner of Republic, Bar Brigade to open pizzeria at former Como Park Grill

Matty O’Reilly, owner of Republic, Red River City Kitchen and Bar Brigade, has signed a lease on the former Como Park Grill space on Pascal Street at Midway Parkway in Como Park. O’Reilly says he hopes to turn the restaurant into a neighborhood-friendly pizzeria.

O’Reilly has his hands full, as he recently opened the already-uber-popular Bar Brigade in the former Ristorante Luci in Highland Park and is planning the seasonal opening of Red River Kitchen, which sits on the Mississippi River by the Science Museum of Minnesota in downtown St. Paul. No word on when he will embark on this new project.

In 2013, the Java Train, a family-friendly coffee shop at Pascal Street and Midway Parkway, morphed into the Como Park Grill, a more grown-up cafe serving lunch and dinner. It closed last year. The green building with the sassy graffiti mural on its north side has been sitting empty since, leaving neighbors anxious for a new place to gather over a cup of morning coffee or evening glass of wine.

The location, between the Minnesota State Fair and the Como Zoo, is a high-traffic spot most of the year. The sprawling patio is fenced in, which helped corral spirited toddlers when Java Train catered to young neighborhood families. It seemed like the perfect spot: Why wasn’t anyone snapping it up?

Rumors swirled last summer that Donald Gonzales, former chef at Fourpaugh’s, and his wife, Erin, attempted to rent the space for a restaurant they had planned to call Gray Duck, but things went south. Gonzales is now opening Gray Duck in the Lowery building in downtown St. Paul.

O’Reilly has signed a lease on the space. O’Reilly has partnered with former Muffuletta chef JD Fratzke at Bar Brigade. Fratzke opened Strip Club Meat and Fish on St. Paul’s East Side a decade ago after leaving Muffuletta. The Strip Club is closing July 1.

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