Owners of The Hideaway Speakeasy Spend the Winter Months Dreaming of Their Return to the Minnesota State Fair

It was Christmas week in 2016 when Bryan and Jennie Enloe received thrilling news—a Request for Proposal (RFP) letter from the Minnesota State Fair. The request, which asked them to submit a proposal for a beer, wine and food location in the Grandstand for the 2017 Great Minnesota Get-Together, came as a delightful surprise.
“It was probably the most exciting Christmas card that ever came in the mail,” says Jennie. The request was part of The Veranda Project, a $3 million dollar plan to remodel the second level of the Grandstand.

The couple jumped at the opportunity, enthusiastic to apply their experience to an incredible undertaking. Their knowledge of the food industry is not scant. Bryan and his family entered the funnel cake and pizza industry when he was 14. “I grew up in the business,” he says. His family has been at the Minnesota State Fair for 23 years, and he worked in the food building for 16. Jennie worked in restaurants for many years and considers herself a self-taught foodie.

The RFP was vague about what kind of bar it wanted, but the two put their creativity to work. “We wanted to match [The Veranda Project’s] vision of what they were doing,” Jennie says. The project used antique décor like vintage signage to mimic the rustic atmosphere of Grandstand vendors, which sold handcrafted goods and artwork. The two followed suit, going with
a shabby-chic vibe for their space.

The end product was nostalgic magnificence: a 1920s prohibition and gangster-themed full-service restaurant and bar. Because its location was in a hidden part of the fair, the Enloes settled on the name The Hideaway Speakeasy.

The space boasted a 47-foot bar window, made of reclaimed barn wood, for walk-up service. Vintage barn wood, Edison light bulbs and a lighted marquee sign decorated the space. In a quieter area of the fair, The Hideaway was a place to get lost in the days of yesteryear. “It’s very step-away in time,” Jennie says. The restaurant/bar wasn’t far from the Upper Grandstand’s Veranda, an additional perk. Guests had food and drink out on the patio while enjoying an overlooking view of the fair.

Being so well put-together, it may come as a surprise building The Hideaway wasn’t smooth sailing. “We had to go back to the drawing board the day the guy was there to start construction,” Bryan says, due to suggested changes a building engineer had to approve.
The time crunch was doable for the Enloes and building team. Thanks to preparation and timely execution, the space was completed. “Three days before the fair was when we pretty much wrapped it up, because we had to start training our employees,” says Bryan.

Staff training was another challenge the couple faced just as the fair was underway. The registers weren’t installed until two days before the fair and went haywire at first use. The two had to find other means to train their employees as they opened. “Training was in the trenches,” says Jennie. “Thankfully after 25 years of experience, Bryan knows how to stay calm.”

Despite setbacks, the experienced duo served food and drink on par with Minnesota State Fair standards. Constructing the menu was another project that expanded their creativity. The Hideaway menu features items named after prohibition terms, made with fresh ingredients.
The Enloes’ love for food and exposure to different types of fair cuisine all over the country helped create the menu. Jennie describes The Hideaway’s food as “more of a healthier choice, with a few indulgences.”

Plenty of effort was put into the menu. “We were still working on it two weeks before the fair,” says Bryan. The meticulous fine-tuning created bestsellers like The Swing-Dancer Sandwich, Bugsy’s Berry & Cheese Plate and the Cotton Candy Bubble Trouble Champagne drink.
As for plans for 2018, the Enloes’ lips are sealed. However, they’re currently working on their new menu: appetizers, entrées, desserts and specialty hooch that will be a combination of new foods with previous bestsellers. The new menu will be released in June.
“I can’t thank everyone enough for believing in us,” Jennie says, in regards to making The Hideaway Speakeasy a reality. The couple’s love of the food business certainly shows in all the work they do. And the Minnesota State Fair is a part of that passion, a place where people come together for a good time and good food. “We’re proud to be a part of it,” Bryan says.