Our Story


Spoonriver opened its doors in June 2006 in the revived Mill District of downtown Minneapolis. Situated just across the plaza from the stunning Tyrone Guthrie Theater, Spoonriver complements its dramatic neighbor and enhances a burgeoning neighborhood along the Mississippi River.

Serving the finest gourmet contemporary natural cuisine, Spoonriver, is the logical evolution of its accomplished owners, Brenda Langton and Timothy Kane, who have been committed to sustainably produced products and healthy eating for over three decades. Spoonriver’s predecessors; Cafe Brenda and Cafe Kardamena, both award-winning Twin Cities institutions that were far ahead of the curve in serving local, organic, and vegetarian cuisine since 1978.

Spoonriver takes Langton & Kane’s concept to new heights with its sleek, intimate dining room and bar where the restaurant’s signature cocktails are served. Spoonriver also features an extensive take-away deli case for riverside picnics or meals to go. The surrounding patio features views of the Stone Arch Bridge spanning the Mississippi, the Guthrie and Minneapolis skyline.

Another of Brenda’s inspirations is the Saturday morning Mill City Farmers’ Market. Stretching along the Chicago Av. plaza and continuing under the Mill City Museum train shed. The MCFM offers a wide variety of local, organic and sustainable products to the neighborhood and community.

Brenda Langton

Award winning chef and restaurateur Brenda Langton, is a pioneer of fresh, local and sustainable food. Since the early 1970’s, she has worked directly with local producers and growers starting as a member of the early vegetarian cooperative restaurant – Commonplace.

She opened her first restaurant, Cafe Kardamena, in 1978 in St. Paul, MN featuring locally sourced gourmet vegetarian cuisine and fresh seafood at a time when most American’s were still eating a meat and potatoes diet. Brenda was inspired both by the Minneapolis/St. Paul natural foods co-op movement and by her extensive travels in Europe where the markets and restaurants she encountered were rooted in regional ingredients.

In 1986 she opened the eponymous Cafe Brenda in downtown Minneapolis where she continued to provide her innovative dining experience on a larger scale. It quickly became a top twin cities destination and received acclaim on both a local and national level. “The Cafe Brenda Cookbook – Redefining Seafood and Vegetarian Cuisine”, was published in 1992 and has become a popular standard for healthy home cooking. Deborah Madison calls it “an appealing collection of recipes that promises to deliver abundant flavor.” Brenda closed the Cafe in 2009 after 23 years.

Brenda opened her third restaurant, Spoonriver, in 2006 in the revitalized Mississippi River Front Mill District of Minneapolis, offering a broader palate including grass-fed beef, lamb and naturally raised pork from Minnesota sources. At Spoonriver she still relies on the finest, freshest local produce as the foundation of her seasonal menus. “The Spoonriver Cookbook” will be published soon from the University of Minnesota Press.

Also in 2006, Brenda founded the Mill City Farmers’ Market, which is located just outside Spoonriver’s front door on the Chicago Av. Plaza and the restored Train Shed of the Mill City Museum, adjacent to the Tyrone Guthrie Theater. The market houses about 70 vendors every Saturday from May to October and specializes in local, sustainable and organic foods and products. The MCFM is a community-based enterprise offering weekly educational cooking demonstrations featuring seasonal market specialties.

Brenda shares her knowledge and experience as a culinary instructor, speaker and consultant on healthy diet in the community. She’s been a repeat judge for the James Beard Foundation’s annual cookbook awards and is an advisor on product development to the food industry and large Minnesota-based retailers.

As a Senior Fellow at the University of Minnesota Center for Spirituality, she shares her knowledge by teaching courses on healthy eating.

In 2009, a collaboration with the Children’s Hospital Integrative Medicine program, Brenda and her daughter Celina produced a 30-minute video and accompanying ChowKids™ Cookbook. Conceived as a fun, informal and informative tool for “healthy cooking” to be played in-room at the hospital. Available to the public, the video & book package is an entertaining tool for teaching families how a healthy diet can help them feel better and heal their bodies.

You will find Brenda at Spoonriver most days along with her husband and business partner, Timothy Kane.