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Food Connections Spotlight: Craig Weber

There was no better witness to the restaurant industry’s turbulent 2020 in the Twin Cities than Craig Weber of Coldwell Banker Commercial Coalition Group. Commercial real estate is his trade, but restaurants are his wheelhouse, which makes him a perfect fit for our Food Connections meetings! Learn more about Craig, how he works behind-the-scenes with restaurants and what projects he’s looking forward to in 2021.

How did you get started with Food Connections?

I met Lori (Gerdts) at a networking event around 5 years ago. She started talking about her company—which sounded interesting to me because I’m in the commercial real estate business with a strong focus on restaurants. She invited me to one of the meetings, I hit it off with the group and it went from there. And they’ve been great. I love the different folks they bring into the group. It’s a great mix.

Can you explain what do you do for a living?

I’m a commercial real estate associate broker. Primarily I look for space for my tenants or clients to lease or buy. I also have clients who are currently marketing and selling their buildings for commercial real estate.

Retail, which includes restaurants, is my forte. Unfortunately, I had about an 80% drop in business at the start of COVID. But things are starting to pick back up. I got a few deals done this spring—one specifically is a second location for the Buttered Tin, which we just finalized on April 1st. They’ve got a great new location in Northeast Minneapolis.

Where did the restaurant emphasis come from in your work?

It’s just the foodie passion in me. When my wife and I go on vacation, I drive her nuts because—pick a location, say, Tampa, Florida— I’ll find a few spots that Guy Fieri has tried. Or in Savannah, Georgia, I scouted out a BBQ joint with an entrance in a back alley. It was just this mom-and-pop place that seats about 14 people with probably some of the best BBQ I’ve ever had.

What’s unique about working with restaurants compared to your other clients?

They’re not like a warehouse where you can open your doors, get shelving in, have one guy running a forklift and away you go. Restaurants have to have a concept and find the crew they need. And then you throw equipment into the mix—I have some clients who are waiting 20 weeks for delivery on some equipment. There are a lot of moving parts with restaurants compared to places that just need four walls and a roof.

Do you cook yourself?

Yes, I am the cook in the family. You name it and I’ll give it a shot.

Where do you find your cooking inspiration?

I like throwing things together and seeing what works. A lot of it goes back to my mom and grandma cooking during the holidays. Also, my oldest brother and his wife used to own an old-fashioned supper club down in Reinbeck, Iowa, and a pizza joint in Waterloo, Iowa. I worked at both of those back in college.

Is there a particular recipe or cuisine you specialize in?

My staple is pizza. In my house, Friday night is pizza night. I usually do the standard pepperoni and sausage. Then I’ll go leftfield and make something like a Canadian bacon and sauerkraut.

Sauerkraut on a pizza, huh?

Yep, it’s a big controversy whether or not sauerkraut belongs on a pizza. Same with pineapple. I like both! 

This has been great! Anything else you’d like to cover?

Speaking of pizza. I recently partnered up with a gentleman and we’re planning on opening a pizzeria in South St. Paul. We’re getting our ducks in a row right now. As far as I know, I have not seen this pizzeria concept before. I’ve been to a lot of different places around the nation and nothing sticks out like what we want to do. The décor will springboard things to make this stand out as a destination. 

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