From initial ideas and restaurant designs to the customer experience and attracting staff, chef and restaurateur Brian Ingram takes a thoughtful approach to every decision he makes for his concepts under Purpose Driven Restaurants—including St. Paul, Minnesota-based Hope Breakfast Bar, Apostle Supper Club, and his newest concept in the works, Spring Break.
For example, the Apostle Supper Club is a piano lounge, tiki bar, and supper club meant to transport guests from the Midwest back to the 1960s in Palm Springs, known for its mid century-modern architecture.
“It’s not the traditional nostalgic Wisconsin supper club,” he says. “The ‘prohibition’ style has been very hot for the past decade, but it has been played (out). We see the next big movement as the mid-century vibe.”
The first location opened in Minnesota’s capital city, St. Paul, in late October. A second location in Duluth opened atop a 360-degree spinning Radisson Hotel with views of Lake Superior’s harbor.
“Using technology can be so useful and elevate a customer’s experience if executed in the correct way.”
Classic comfort dishes are reimagined with a sense of adventure—like the gluten-free Spatchcock Game Hen featuring a pineapple-brined whole hen topped with mango, grilled pineapple, and Adobo salsa, and the French Toast Tower on Apostle’s brunch menu with caramelized bananas and cognac maple syrup. And playing off a cultural stereotype of the Northern state, Ingram named a dessert dish “Minnesota Nice,” which includes ice cream cake with layers of oreo, peanut butter, vanilla, and chocolate ganache.
Ingram’s newest restaurant concept, Spring Break, plays off of Gen X’s nostalgia with a 1980s theme and is slated to open in the spring of 2023 in St. Paul. The goal? “Creating pockets for people to feel like you have your own space,” Ingram says, where a couple can retreat to the piano bar with a spirit-free craft cocktail.
“With all our restaurants, we are always looking forward to what is the next thing our customers are going to be craving in our spaces,” Ingram says. “Providing them an experience they may not have known they wanted, but once they get it, they cannot get enough of it.”
Meanwhile, Ingram plans to open a fourth Hope Breakfast Bar location in Eagan, Minnesota in the first quarter of 2023, while concurrently launching franchising to expand the concept nationwide.
“Breakfast is the fastest-growing segment in the country, and we want to fill that space with Hope,” Ingram says.
He believes in creating a “collection of restaurants” and not a chain—each with their own unique flairs and offerings for their respective neighborhoods, he adds. Supporting local communities is important for Ingram, who takes 3 percent of sales from his restaurants and gives it back to community organizations.
In addition to intentionally making each of his restaurants a part of the communities they serve and giving back, Ingram’s mindful approach also applies when integrating new technologies.
“Using technology can be so useful and elevate a customer’s experience if executed in the correct way,” Ingram says. “The technology we use has to be smart, meaning it has to create a seamless experience for both the servers and the customers.”
For example, Ingram dislikes QR codes for menus or ordering in restaurants, since he feels a key aspect of the server to table relationship is lost. Instead, handhelds are utilized so servers can take orders at the tables while still creating a personalized, friendly experience for customers.
“By introducing this technology, it provides quicker service, since orders are being put into the kitchen in real time and helps to curb any mistakes,” he adds.