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Novo a go next week: New gastropub to open near BSU on Monday

Austin Sconce and Brittany Cast work on scheduling Wednesday morning at the new Novo Restaurant in Bemidji.Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer1 / 2
The managing staff at Novo Restaurant make final preparations before opening next week. (In front, left to right) Eli Evenson, Erron Evenson, Brent Sicard, Brittany Kast, Shylee Stately and (back row, left to right) Steven Higbee and Austin Sconce. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer2 / 2

BEMIDJI — Although the new gastropub on the former site of the Maid-Rite Cafe has been dubbed “Novo,” it actually combines both the traditional and the new.

Rather than renovating the old building, developers built a modern one from scratch.

Inside, stylish colored lights illuminate a bar that features trendy craft beers from the Twin Cities, but only feet away from large, open windows next to diner-like tables. Everything from burgers to fillet mignon will be on the menu. The new restaurant is owned by Lueken’s Village Foods, and CEO Brent Sicard said the main idea behind Novo is to make everyone feel welcome no matter where they’re coming from.

“The one thing that we kept saying over and over again is, ‘We want it to avoid any pretentiousness,’” Sicard said.

The gastropub’s staff of 24 were laughing and chatting with each other as they tested meals and tinkered with drink mixes in preparation for Monday’s opening. Heading up the Novo team are brothers Erron and Eli Evenson, serving as general manager and head chef, respectively.

“Almost everything is made from scratch,” Erron said. “We take a lot of pride in what we do.”

Erron explained that the notion of a gastropub as it applies to Novo comes from combining the words “gastronomy,” or the study of food, and “public house,” or pub.

“Basically, it’s a lot of stuff that other people do, we just do it homemade,” he said. “The taste… light years’ difference, in my opinion.”

For example, Novo’s breakfast menu features stuffed French toast where the chefs actually take fresh strawberries and boil them into a reduction rather than just using a store-bought strawberry syrup.

“Everything’s fresh, except the ketchup,” Eli joked.

Novo will also have a late-night menu when the restaurant is open until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.

The gastropub has already had three soft opening events that let builders, notable community members and contest winners all have a chance to experience the new restaurant. Proceeds from the events, which Novo will donate to the Boys & Girls Club across the street from the restaurant, total about $1,400 .

A grand opening is planned for sometime in the next few weeks but a specific date is yet to be determined.

For more information, visit Novo’s website at

Zach Kayser
Zach Kayser covers local government and city issues for the Pioneer. He previously worked for the Wadena Pioneer Journal, and is an alumni of the University of Minnesota, Morris. 
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