Hours / About Us

History

In the heart of downtown Minneapolis, appropriately located in a beautiful underground space, you’ll discover a chef-owned restaurant known for its damn good food: unique but not fancy, interesting but not fussy. Open for for breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks 7 days a week, the restaurant/bar also offers free live music most evenings and during weekend brunch, plus our new late night music program featuring many local and national artists in the folk, americana, jazz and blues genres. Occasionally, we also may have a late night “rock-the-house” show from time to time Fridays and/or Saturdays til 2am.

Owners Steve Meyer and Mitch Omer have been award-winning chefs in the Twin Cities for far longer than their patient wives want to admit. Rather than being “celebrity chefs” with fancy toques and pretentious “vertical” foods, these war horses and their rogue compadres are behind the stove working their asses off to bring you made-from-scratch meals. Almost everything at Hell’s Kitchen is homemade, including ketchup, mustard, tomato juice, iced tea, hot cocoa, and of course our raved-about peanut butter which we now send throughout the world. Even our bar gets in on the “made-from-scratch” action, offering beautiful Bloody Mary’s, locally crafted beers, and awesome cocktails created with house-infused liquors.

No, this isn’t Denny’s with a $2.99 Grand Slam breakfast. Thankfully, our customers understand “you get what you pay for.” All the wonderful people who work at Hell’s Kitchen very much appreciate your patronage and fervently hope you too will be converted. So come to our underground lair and enjoy…it’s a fun place (even kids love us!)…a bit on the dark side (yet still light-hearted), but the emphasis always has been and always will be our damn good food.

P.S. Don’t worry about the name…it’s just how we feel slaving in the hot kitchen while you enjoy your meal…and no, we have nothing to do with Gordon Ramsay’s TV train wreck of the same name…our restaurant was slinging hash years before Ramsay’s show started!

About Us

Mitch Omer | Chef / Owner

When football star Mitch Omer walked off the field in frustration and gave up his full scholarship at Iowa State to the chagrin of his furious father, he was understandably told “don’t come home.” Thus he kept going, past Des Moines, past Minneapolis, and way up into the north woods of Ely to forge a new life. Grabbing the first job offered (and lying about his lack of experience), he started cooking at age 19.

Lucky for him, he was good. “But it was just a job,” he explains, until he met world-renowned chef Jacques Pepin…friend of Julia Child, author of numerous cookbooks, and chef to several French Presidents. Watching Jacques in action “lit me on fire,” says Mitch. “That’s when I realized good cooking combines my love of art and science, and at that point, there was absolutely no stopping me.”

Omer then maniacally studied everything about the culinary world he could get his hands on. Fervently working up to 3 jobs at a time, he gained priceless experience under many great chefs near and far, honing his kitchen skills while trying to balance a crazy home life that included three children, two ex wives, irresponsible drug and alcohol use, subsequent punishments, and (finally) a proper diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder…which thankfully explained his manic-obsessive-depressive behavior.

In his 40’s and finally on an even keel, Omer sold almost all of his possessions (and his new wife Cyn’s house, she kindly reminds him), snatched his longtime “partner in crime” Steve Meyer, and opened Hell’s Kitchen in a tiny shotgun space one block from the current location in downtown Minneapolis.

Steve Meyer | Chef / Owner

The very last thing Steve Meyer wanted was his own business. Happy as hell to have a good cooking career at several great Twin Cities restaurants, Steve often followed Omer’s lead and worked as his Sous Chef from place to place, sometimes staying on as Executive Chef whenever Omer was fired (often). Then came “the call.”

“I’m opening my own restaurant and I want you as a partner,” said Omer, thus luring Meyer one more time into unknown waters. “Steve’s the hardest working line dog in the business,” explained Mitch, “and I wouldn’t do my own place without him.” So that’s how Steve Meyer ended up as a partner in Hell’s Kitchen. Side-note: when Steve’s sweet-yet-buttoned-down wife Kim heard that Mitch planned to call the place “Hell’s Kitchen,” she sat down and cried.

Ah, how time heals all wounds. Kim’s now quite happy as our Business Manager…Cyn (Mitch’s wife who also founded Creative Kidstuff) is CEO, and the two war dogs Mitch and Steve are still cooking and writing cookbooks and keeping the staff laughing and desperately trying not to micro-manage everything in between. It’s a good partnership, well balanced, and yet things still always seem crazy around Mitch and Steve. That’s why they brought in the Big Talent….

Tony Perella | General Manager / Owner

When redevelopment plans forced Hell’s Kitchen to look for a new home in 2007, the owners looked near and far but kept coming back to a fabulous underground space just a block away. Problem was, it was huge (3 times as big) and expensive (rent was 4 times as much). “There was no way we could break even just offering breakfast and lunch,” explains Steve, “so we were forced to add dinner service.” Problem #1: they had their hands full running things from 4am til end of lunch service. Who would run things for dinner?

Problem #2 Their new space included a beautiful stage with a jaw-dropping sound system. “We had no inkling what to do with it,” lamented Cynthia Gerdes. “Maybe do some dinner music on weekends? Maybe just add some more tables/chairs up there and make it a private dining space? It was too overwhelming to think about it so we just left it empty the first several months.”

Problem #3 was simply managing the unexpected increase in volume. “I was astonished whenever the huge new place actually filled up with customers” explained Steve’s wife Kim Meyer. “I could barely keep up with running payroll and paying the bills, let alone scheduling all the different shifts and maintaining good rapport with employees and customers.”

Enter Tony Perella, “our very own Guido” laughs Gerdes. “Right under our eyes, tending bar, was one of the best potential managers we could ever hope for” she continues. “Tony’s a perfect balance to our spontaneous and crazy styles, and brings stability to our operation with his quiet, methodical, and very likable personality.” And here’s the fun part, adds Omer, “It was all the employees who told us we should have Tony run the place. Everybody respects him…how cool is that?”

Perella, who had extensive experience running other restaurants, was immediately promoted to General Manager and began putting systems in place to ensure the restaurant’s future. He pulled together a “dream team” of smart managers in order to have someone in charge every single minute of operation. Once things were in place and running like a well-oiled machine, Perella turned his attention to that empty stage and instituted a music program which includes free music Tuesdays through Sundays during dinnertime and weekend brunch. He then put the incredible sound system to further use by adding Late Nite shows called “Hell’s Kitchen Underground” with rock-the-walls entertainment that draws in a younger crowd Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10:30pm to 2am. And finally, he took some of the cooking pressure off Steve and Mitch by hiring a Executive Chef to run the day-to-day food operations.

Matt Williams | Executive Chef

Halfway into his 16 years of experience in the culinary industry, Matt left his hometown of Green Bay, Wisconsin and came to the “big city” of Minneapolis to pursue bigger and better things in his career (and maybe partially to follow a girl, whom he would later marry).

Much of Matt’s creative spark relies on years of experience in a wide variety of restaurants. From a rib joint, to a scratch Italian and fine dining in Green Bay, to hotels, catering, and restaurants like Spoonriver, the Guthrie Theatre (when Cue was there), Taher Inc., opening Stanley’s in Northeast, and most recently, Vincent-A Restaurant. He has seen and done a bit of everything.

Matt’s favorite part of working in kitchens is being part of a team that works together to accomplish a common goal: making people happy through food. He also oddly enjoys the sweat, stress, long hours, thinking about work while not at work, and the occasional cuts and burns that come along with the job. He is also a proponent of using locally and responsibly raised livestock and vegetables wherever possible, and nose to tail eating.

Minneapolis, Live Music, Downtown Restaurant

In order to support sustainable seafood and freshwater choices to help better protect our environment, we have partnered with the Minnesota Zoo’s FishSmart program by pledging to serve only sustainably harvested seafood. The goal of the FishSmart program is to increase the availability of sustainable seafood in the Twin Cities and increase awareness of sustainable seafood issues throughout Minnesota.