You can't beat the convenience of a hotel gathering. Aside from the obvious perks of combining event space with overnight accommodations, food is now one of the best parts of booking a stay. Hotel restaurants have evolved, embracing a locavore attitude in the menus. While each of the following hotel restaurants offers private dining space, you don’t have to limit your number of attendees thanks to the proximity of boardrooms and ballrooms on the properties. Even better, most of the edibles you love on the hotel restaurant menu can often be ordered in large quantities and served in a banquet setting.
The Beacon Public House at the Commons Hotel
“The Commons Hotel is the living room of the University of Minnesota,” says Kelly Commerford, director of sales and marketing. Unlike a living room, however, the Commons offers campus visitors a variety of meeting spaces, farm-to-table menu options and industrial schoolhouse décor.
The Beacon, the hotel’s gastro-pub, seats 135 and dishes up freshly prepared meals made from farmers-market produce. On nongame days, The Den, a private dining room decked out in a geek-chic theme with bookcase screens, exposed brick, and reclaimed barn wood is available for reservations. Invite up to 12 guests to sink into oversized leatherstudded chairs and feast on à la carte items or a pre-set menu. Build your-own burgers, crispy pork belly and flat iron steak are among the heartier options. Wash it down with local brews and inventive cocktails or treat yourself to tableside s’mores. Looking to entertain a larger group? The Commons can accommodate as many as 500 guests between two ballrooms and 10 breakout rooms located on the second floor.
The SIX15 Room at the Grand Hotel Minneapolis
Located in the Grand Hotel Minneapolis, the SIX15 Room features a mix of modern and historic décor and a polished, cosmopolitan vibe. The menu consists of small plates and specialty cocktails, and Executive Chef Kris Koch is committed to using as many sustainable and organic ingredients as possible. Signature eats include the Wild Acres turkey burger, smoked trout on bagel chips with lemon dill cream cheese and walleye tater tots. “We didn’t want to get all snooty and Frenchy,” Koch says of the walleye, “so we made it into a tater tot instead.”
Jill Galera, the director of catering, cites exclusivity as what sets this venue apart. “Our events are really private. Everything is self-contained,” she says. Whether you choose the SIX15 Room, the ballroom, one of three boardrooms, or a presidential suite, personal, attentive service is a given at the Grand Hotel Minneapolis.
Prairie Kitchen & Bar at the Hyatt Regency
Prairie Kitchen & Bar, located in the Hyatt Regency in downtown Minneapolis, seats 180 and provides a private dining room for 15 with audio-visual hookups. Fitted with floor-to-ceiling curtains, the restaurant can also be sectioned off to accommodate groups from 30 seated to 200 on a flow basis. “It’s very trendy and modern, but it’s got a lot of earthy feel with the woods and the stone,” Jeffrey Johnson, director of operations, says of the space’s ambiance. This rustic, chic venue prides itself on a seasonal, locally sourced menu. Shared and solo plates feature plenty of protein in dishes like steelhead trout tacos, salmon BLTs, pulled bison sandwiches and Thousand Hills steak salads.
Banquet menus rotate throughout the year for those served in the Hyatt Regency’s multiple meeting rooms that accommodate up to 850 guests. The 100 Mile Menu is particularly inventive, with every dish sourced within 100 miles of the property. Don’t forget to stop by the 360-degree bar for a nightcap, where bartenders pour specialty drinks that riff off popular cocktails.
Midi Restaurant at Fitger’s
For those looking to convene in Minnesota’s North Shore, Fitger’s Inn is a classic destination. Located on the lakefront in Duluth and housed in the former Fitger’s Brewery building, the property was most recently renovated in 2008. “The hotel has been updated, but they kept the historic charm. It’s a little bit old-world with contemporary design,” says Catering Sales Manager Heather Jensen.
Inside, Midi Restaurant serves a Mediterranean-inspired menu and offers two private dining rooms (Harbor View Room and Fireside Room) that can be combined for large groups. Additional spaces are also available for rent; businesspeople might opt for the elegant Board Room, lecturers will appreciate the Spirit of the North Theater, and guests who want to mingle outdoors will enjoy Fitger’s Courtyard. Microphones, podiums, screens and projectors are also available for small fees. Banquet menus can be customized to your palate and served plated, buffet or family style. The buffet offers a wider variety including deli sandwiches, soup and salad, and a pasta bar. Reception style service is also an option for those who prefer hors d’oeuvres.
The Veranda at the St. James Hotel
Open since 1875, this relic of a bygone era is just an hour away from the Twin Cities. Decorated in a Victorian style and teeming with antiques, the hotel offers guests views of the Mississippi River and houses an impressive three restaurants and 14 private meeting and banquet rooms. Groups staying on-site can also participate in cooking classes, scavenger tours, interactive tours, paddleboat ventures, or outdoor activities in scenic Red Wing.
Events can be arranged for as few as two or as many as 500 guests. The casual dining menu in The Veranda features comfort food classics like fried green tomatoes and Reuben sandwiches. For catered events, the St. James’ chefs can whip up an extensive hot and cold hors d’oeuvres menu with passed or stationary serving options. Plated meals highlight regional dishes like wild rice soup and Swedish meatballs.
No matter what you order, save room for the hotel’s signature dish. “We’ve become known for our Minnesota Pot Roast,” says Nicole Miller, director of sales and marketing. “It’s amazing. For weddings, we have tastings prior, and about 80 percent of those who try that pot roast choose it for one of their wedding entrées.” If cocktail hour is more your style, the award-winning St. James has 25 beers on tap and brandy tastings.
The Grand Hotel Minneapolis
Spaces for Rent: 5
Capacity: Up to 350
Rental Fee: Varies depending on room and date
Total Square Footage of Banquet Space: 6,500
The Commons Hotel
Spaces for Rent: 12
Capacity: Up to 500
Rental Fee: $100 to $12,000
Total Square Footage of Banquet Space: 20,000
The Hyatt Regency
Spaces for Rent: 23
Capacity: Up to 1,000
Rental Fee: Varies depending on room and date
Total Square Footage of Banquet Space: 105,000
Spaces for Rent: 6
Capacity: Up to 150
Rental Fee: $125 to $325
Total Square Footage of Banquet Space: 6,616
St. James Hotel
Spaces for Rent: 14
Capacity: 2 to 500
Rental Fee: $25 to $1000
Total Square Footage of Banquet Space: 19,000