After an extensive remodeling process, the much-anticipated Reunion restaurant will open next week in Northfield, bringing a restaurant not only unique to the region, but one developers hope further sparks the downtown district.
Reunion, which consists of buildings at 501, 503 and 505 Division St., will feature a restaurant with an open-kitchen wood-fire grill and oven, serving American fare like steaks and seafood, plus shareable dishes, a couple of bars, space for private events and gathering space.
After Freetime purchased the buildings in 2017, workers demo’d interior spaces. Now, century-old stone walls are displayed, layers of ripped out flooring reveal original wood base and opened up rooms highlight the size of the structures. The buildings successfully provides an industrial-classical feel.
Freetime co-owner Brett Reese began working at the Rueb ‘N’ Stein in 1975 and bought the restaurant in 1982. He sold it to Joe Grundhoefer six years later. Grundhoefer owned the building until the restaurant closed in 2017.
Since then, remodeling has taken the buildings back to their late 19th century to early 20th century look.
“This is going to be an economic driver, this establishment, in terms of taking it and renovating it,” Reese said. “A lot of money went into it, to create what we did today, so contractors, subcontractors, we’ve had a lot of people working here over the year and a half.”
The building at 501 Division St. has a bar in the lower level. Most of the second floor, which served as apartment space, is exposed to the ceiling, except for the back, which will include bathrooms and a lounge area with a balcony overlooking the lower bar.
The first building on the site was Jenks Tavern, built in 1855, that later burned in a fire. The second building also burned down before the existing building was built in 1876. The middle building, 503 Division St., features the restaurant. The upper level features the second bar with a lounge feel, including low tables and comfortable seating.
The southernmost building, 505 Division St., includes overflow and private event seating for the restaurant in the lower level, with kitchen space and bathrooms in the back. An event and music space, including a stage and dance floor, is planned for the upper level.
Space will be available for private events.
Fifty-seven jobs are being created at the restaurant.
In addition to the five owners of Freetime — Reese, Chad Jenkinson, Jennifer Sawyer, Greg Heymans (Hogan Brothers owner) and Joshua Drivdahl — Architect Dave Medin, who helped design the Rueb ‘N’ Stein space in 1969, has helped design the project. Twin Cities area investors Scott McQueen and Dan Nepp. They advised the team to strip the late-1800s and early-1900s buildings back to their roots.
The team created a two-level patio option, with the upper patio occupying an existing deck behind the middle building and the lower patio taking the space behind the northernmost building.
Reunion is considered an ode to the place where many Northfielders have convened.
To Sawyer, the location where the restaurant will be “is just such a significant part of the downtown of Northfield, and to be able to now open up and share that with the community is great.”
“Just to have that ‘eat, drink and gather,’ that place where people gather, is an important piece for us, because we want this to be a place where memories are made,” she said. “I think all of us have these significant memories from the Rueb from years ago and now the Reunion going forward, so we want to create a space and a place where people come and gather and make memories of their own.”