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Curiocity: Union's Retractable Rooftop Opens Monday

After only about nine months since its conception, Minnesota's first retractable roof restaurant is on the cusp of opening to the public.

The new three-level restaurant sits at the corner of Hennepin Avenue and 8th Street, the former home of Shinders, Burger King and Snyder Drug.

Once inside, this 6,000-sqaure-foot space has truly been transformed into a rustic, cozy space with plenty of comfy seating and a large bar area.

Kam Talebi, CEO of Kaskaid Hospitality, which owns Union, said it's exactly what they were hoping -- from the overall concept to the intimate details.

"I'm delighted with the way this space has come together," he said. "It takes a vision to see through a construction site and ultimately plans that are on a piece of paper. I think the restaurant has come together incredibly nicely, and the feedback, just with the people who are going through it, is incredibly positive. The look and feel is exactly what we envisioned it to be."

He said the space was largely inspired by comfort -- bringing diners and downtowners a space where they can have a relaxing night out, yet experience something new at every level.

Union Restaurant
(credit: CBS)

"Honestly, the look and feel just doesn't exist in this market," Talebi said. "It's a unique look and a unique layout and obviously having different levels of dining and what we've been able to create at each level will in itself lend to a unique dining experience."

And of course, there's the rooftops of all rooftops -- the $1 million retractable roof that will surely set this place apart from others in the downtown restaurant scene. The crescent-shaped roof is tiled with windows, which slide on a track to easily offer fresh-air dining in a matter of minutes.

"It's the real deal -- and it actually works," Talebi said. "It's breathtaking. I mean, when you're there -- the height, the views and the way the space came together, it's just going to be a fantastic dining experience -- nothing this town has ever experienced."

Talebi said the space will be able to host weddings, events and other social gatherings. The rooftop space is almost like its own entity -- with a full kitchen and bar space allowing seamless service and its very own menu.

Union Restaurant
(credit: CBS)

The menu, created by Executive Chef Jim Christiansen, is approachable, diverse and keeps value in mind, Talebi said. Offering snacks, appetizers and separate menus for the rooftop and dining room, the food will create a different experience for the diner, depending on their mood, he said.

The restaurant, which opens to the public on Monday, is just a short distance from Crave, another restaurant under the Kaskaid Hospitality group. However, Talebi said the offerings are so different, he doesn't feel in competition with himself.

"I think downtown continues to evolve to be a fantastic dining corridor. If you look at what's evolved on Hennepin Avenue -- with us, with Crave, Fogo de Chao, Rosa Mexicano, it really lends itself to an absolutely fantastic line-up of different dining experiences that customers can experience when they come to downtown Minneapolis," he said.

It's been quite the ride for Talebi -- fresh off the grand opening of Figlio 2.0 in St. Louis Park, opening a new Crave in Cincinnati over the summer and now ready to introduce Union to the public, he said he's really looking forward to his next venture.

"Lots of rest," he said with a laugh. "The hard works begins now with the restaurant opening but it's nice to be able to take a breather."

Gallery: Inside Union Restaurant

Union opens Monday to the public. For menus, reservations and more information, visit their website.

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