A trip to New York inspired the new Geno’s Italian-style sandwich shop at the corner of Hennepin and 4th St. SE in Minneapolis. Opening in a former Subway, the limited-seating restaurant features a fast-casual Italian menu in a diner environment.
“Owner Gene Suh was inspired by places in New York that do a quick chicken parmesan sandwich,” explains Nick Kelly, general manager. “It’s fun,” Kelly says of the restaurant, which sports chrome tabletops and an Italian-focused bar menu. The overall atmosphere is part fast-casual and part diner, while serving warm and familiar Italian staples.
The menu is mostly traditional, serving appetizers like garlic cheese bread and meatballs to be paired with a built-to-order sandwich like eggplant parm or porchetta. There are more creative options like “meatolives,” described as sausage-wrapped, cheese-stuffed and deep-fried olives. With quick service and a lively sandwich menu, Kelly hopes Geno’s will become a popular lunch destination in the area.
Suh also owns Lyndale Taphouse (where Kelly was previously assistant general manager) and Hammer & Sickle in Uptown. Geno’s will follow the dinner and a drink approach that’s been popular at those businesses.
Geno’s will serve house red and white wines on tap (priced at $3 for a small pour), as well as cocktails and a limited selection of canned and bottled beer. Kegged wines give customers fresher selection (though, Kelly admits, from California instead of Italy), and the cocktails will pull from Italian tradition. Many use a house-made limoncello. The bar will also feature a new take on the negroni cocktail—and serve wine slushies.
The Hennepin-Fourth Street corridor has seen new growth in recent years, including expansions of other Uptown-based restaurants such as Bad Waitress, Glam Doll Donuts and Lu’s Sandwiches. Suh had been eying Northeast Minneapolis for his next expansion, Kelly says. The area’s new housing developments provides a wide base of customers—even with all the new businesses in competition.
While Lyndale Taphouse and Suh’s other restaurants have been successful, Geno’s is a new concept entirely. It builds off the success and organization of the other restaurants, Kelly says, but will be its own entity.
“This company does a really good job of providing good food and drink, but making it fun and inviting and bringing personality into it,” he says. As a longtime Northeast resident, Kelly is also excited to work closer to home. Though, he openly admits, “We’re technically Southeast because we’re on the other side of Hennepin.”
Geno’s anticipates a soft open shortly after Valentine’s Day, aiming for an official opening on Monday Feb. 27.