With a new restaurant, a dream comes full circle
“When I moved to Minnesota from D.C. in 2006 as a corporate executive, my first apartment was at the Calhoun Beach Club,” said Pimento Jamaican Kitchen chef and restaurant owner Tomme Beevas (TB). “This used to be my lake. I would walk around there. It was my backyard when I first moved to Minnesota,” he recalls.
“When my then-girlfriend, who’s my now-wife, first visited, I drove her around the lake,” Beevas continued. “I was like, ‘Yo, babe, you should move to Minnesota. We can buy any of these houses. You just pick any one you want,’ because back then I thought you didn’t need more than $200,000 or $300,000 for a house there.”
In October, Beevas returned to his old stomping grounds to host a grand opening for Pimento on the Lake, his latest restaurant venture at the Bde Maka Ska Pavilion.
“The reason we chose that location is because it’s the crown jewel of the Twin Cities. We have 10,000 lakes, and this is the largest one in the city. And so, it was naturally the right fit. It was always a dream. But I didn’t even know the potential until after it burned down,” he said.
“I was thinking that it would be great if we could figure out what opportunities were here. Before I could even reach out, Louis King [owner of Lola’s on the Lake, which was destroyed by fire] reached out and presented the opportunity,” said Beevas. “I was like, ‘Ah, yes.’ God is good.
“It was beyond a dream. It was also a coincidence,” said Beevas. “Because of the fire, Louis wanted to move away from the restaurant space. He thought it would make sense to partner with Pimento and take it to the next level.”
MSR: How is this different from your other locations?
TB: We expanded to include a beach venue. You can get the regular oxtail and jerk chicken. But now with the beach menu, you can also get hot dogs, hamburgers, and not just hamburgers. We’re talking about a jerk burger. I’m going to call it the future award-winning jerk burger. It’s just so flavorful.
Now, we also have soups as a staple on the menu—like our kidney bean soup, which is our vegan option. We have our chicken noodle soup. But it’s not just a chicken noodle soup, it’s a Cajun chicken noodle soup that has the flavor of your grandmother and my grandmother combined.
The wild rice soup is our approach to the Indigenous roots of the Twin Cities and Bde Maka Ska specifically. We turn up a bit more flavor and heat on the traditional wild rice soup. Menu-wise, that’s one difference.
The other difference is that for the first time we’re also introducing Pimento Market. At Pimento Market, you can get the natural Pimento sauces, Pimento-branded items. But you can also get coffee and beer.
You can also get things like products from 20 to 30 women entrepreneurs, and five BIPOC-owned businesses. When combined, Pimento Kitchen and Pimento Market creates Pimento on the Lake, which is a unique experience like none other on the planet.
MSR: How has this location been received?
TB: The location has been tremendously well-received. At our grand opening, our media outreach went really well. We’ve been testing the products, testing the systems for a few weeks. By and large, I’d say that we are well-poised to be able to handle the demands that come with being on the lake. We have the right systems, the right flavors, the right people, and the right communities to be able to be a truly unique space.
MSR: Any big plans for the winter?
TB: Yes, for the winter we plan on doing quite a lot. We’re going to take full advantage of being on the frozen lake. We’re working with groups to figure out how to dig the holes so that people can do lake plunges, and bring out saunas so that we can have saunas right on the lake.
We’re trying to figure out the wind direction so we can further insulate the spaces. This will be a year-round space for the market, regardless of the weather. It is designed to be a space where everyone who’s walking around the lake or cross-country skiing can stop by and get some coffee on the way to their next destination.
MSR: Do you have any plans for events beyond the winter?
TB: We plan on doing quite a few events, including parties on the lake. We have a stage out there and we plan on bringing the same vibes that we’ve always been bringing for the last 10 years right there on the lake.
Whether it’s good reggae music or hip-hop music or folk music or whatever the genre of music, we know that we’re bringing entertainment to bring people together. We continue to bring that same safe-space mindset to the lake—both from an operational standpoint and from an entertainment standpoint, where everybody can come and find a good reason to party.
MSR: How does your business impact the area?
TB: Our business impacts the area because it has been without a restaurant or a concessionaire for a number of years. With Pimento being here, we know that folks feel safe because Pimento has always been a safe space, and we’ll continue to be that safe space.
Neighbors, visitors and tourists alike can come and be a part of the transformation on the lake. We’ll now serve as the hub of entertainment, a party hub of good vibes—whether it’s winter or summer in the Twin Cities.
MSR: What would you consider your most popular item at this location?
TB: Interestingly enough, even though we’ve expanded our menu offerings to include our beach menu—things like oysters—the traditional Jamaican food seems to still be our top-selling items.
MSR: What has been your biggest challenge in getting this location opened?
TB: The biggest challenge is time. Obviously, we wish we could have been open sooner. But it’s construction, and restaurant construction at that. I have enough years under my belt, and I’ve opened enough restaurants now and worked on different projects, to know that construction is beyond my control.
This was the least stressful restaurant opening I’ve ever had, even though it’s the largest and the most complex. But because we have the experience now, we were able to weather the storm and plan, manage and build something that’s truly unique for all of us and that will last a lifetime.
Naturally, as a Black business, one of our challenges is that we don’t get access to capital at all—period. However, with this project we were able to collaborate with U.S. Bank to figure out how to get capital that was funneled through MEDA and Fortress Capital to make this deal a reality.
MSR: What’s your goal for this location?
TB: Our goal for the location is to make Pimento the face of the Twin Cities. When people think of us, we want them to think of culture, to think of a destination, to think of us for food or entertainment. Whether it’s great food or it’s great music, or it’s just the chill vibe, we’re bringing the heat to the Twin Cities.
Pimento on the Lake is located at 3000 Bde Maka Ska Pkwy in Minneapolis. For more information, go to www.pimento.com.