This Restaurant Partnership Break-Up Is a Family Affair
When a TV show spins off an offspring, rarely does it end up on another network competing against its parent. And when restaurant partners go separate ways, there are typically agreements that limit close competition. But in the case of Minneapolis’s new Red Cow, an upscale burger joint/wine bar chain in the making, familiarity is being given every opportunity to breed contempt.
Red Cow is the brainchild of Luke Shimp, whose sister and ex-brother-in-law run Blue Plate Restaurant Company, which operates seven distinct Twin Cities all-day restaurants, with another in the works. Shimp was a minority partner in Blue Plate for nearly a decade when he parted ways with the company last year to do Red Cow—two blocks from Blue Plate’s Edina Grill—at 50th and Drew in Minneapolis.
“I was surprised he opened so close,” says Blue Plate co-founder David Burley. And Shimp is negotiating for a space in a new commercial development at 27th and Hennepin, five blocks from Blue Plate’s Lowry. “I’ve heard that, yes,” Burley notes dryly.
According to both sides, Shimp’s parting was amicable. He wanted Blue Plate to focus on out-of-market growth and replicating concepts, while his two partners, one of them his sister Stephanie, preferred to create original concepts close to home. “There was just a point where we concluded we needed to break up,” says Burley.
Shimp, 39, says he plans three Red Cows in the metro area and will then branch out. He has no partners other than Vision Bank, which is financing part of the venture. Replicating, he says, takes him back to his early career working in a NASCAR pit crew—“it’s about preparation for performance. We’ll have an independent face but a corporate back of the house. That’s how I make money.” He expects each local Red Cow to generate $3 million in annual revenue at maturity.
But he has no plans to trade on Blue Plate’s signature—all its restaurants serve breakfast. “That,” Burley says, “would be going for the jugular.”