Bole Brings a New Vibe to Como Dining
Tuesday, March 9, 2021 8:30 AM

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Stone, wood, and bright colors transform the dining space Bole is taking over.
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Bole provides a nook for traditional communal dining
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Owners (and spouses) Rekik Abaineh and Solomon Hailie are starting over in Como.

Bole Ethiopian Cuisine expects to open its new Como location on March 16. Assuming all the inspectors sign off, Bole plans to offer carry-out for the first week or so, then open inside dining once staff work out all the kinks. A clear sign this deadline is serious? The restaurant is now hiring staff.

“It’s an exciting adventure,” says Lelna Desta, the business consultant working with owners Solomon Hailie and Rekik Abaineh. “We’re super geeked – and anxious. We can’t wait to see the place buzzing.” (For opening day updates, check the restaurant's Facebook page.)

Literally rising from the ashes
The restaurant is reincarnating after its previous location, on Syndicate just north of University, was burned by rioters last May after the killing of George Floyd. In moving to Como, Bole takes over the 1341 Pascal space that has housed Fox Trot Burger Spot, Delicata, Como Park Grille, and Java Train.

Bole spent nearly three years on Syndicate. When it first opened, it was “a hole in the wall,” Desta says. “You had to go look for it. But people found us. They found it safe, and comfortable, and a place to celebrate. They found a product and service they loved.”

After the fire, Haile, Rekik, and Desta looked at possible locations all over Saint Paul and Minneapolis. They hoped for a neighborhood location, and hoped they didn’t have to move far from the Midway. Then they found the Como building a few weeks before Christmas. “We fell in love with it,” Desta says. “Some places, we said ‘no way.’ But this place did call to us. We got lucky, I’ll say.”

After renting on Syndicate, they went all in and bought the Pascal building. They are thrilled by the initial reception, Desta says. Despite construction, “we have people stopping in to say hello.” They clearly have plenty of people pulling for them. They received more than $150,000 in GoFundMe donations, as well as some grants to aid their recovery. Despite leaving their old neighborhood, the Midway Chamber of Commerce gave Bole a resiliency award.

A vibrant greeting
The bonds they built with customers on Syndicate “brought a new dimension to how we viewed our restaurant, how we looked at space,” Desta says. The result shows up in the Como space.

The interior “reflects the craft of Solomon’s imagination,” Desta says. “It’s cozy. It feels like home.” Instead of the somewhat dark, dated decor of the previous tenants, Bole greets diners with a mix of fashionable stone, warmly stained wood, muted yellow, and vibrant “Bole” red. Tasteful lighting hangs overhead.

Hailie cut vertical openings into the wall between the two dining rooms, which visually connects them and the patio. One of the final touches still to come: a mural of the neighborhood in Addis Ababa from which Bole takes its name.

The space still handles about 70, but seating is rearranged. To make room for a kitchen expansion, Bole pushes the bar farther into the north room. And the bar is clearly designed for seating, rather than as a staging area.

The south room includes a nook with traditional, low, three-legged stools where diners (at least those who are flexible enough) can share a giant, communal platter of food served on a woven table. The nook might be accessorized further to resemble a hut, Desta says.

Also in the south room, Bole will feature a small “marketplace” with deli items and other to-go options. The downstairs is off limits for now, but will be remodeled to host meetings and gatherings.

As for the food…
The menu features East African specialties such as kitfo and sambusa; more varieties of tibs than you can sample in a week; a wide range of lentil, chickpea, and other vegetarian entrees; injera rolls; salads; a “Bole twist” on American staples such as wings and the steak sandwich; plus a children’s menu that includes mac-and-cheese, grilled cheese, and chicken strips. “[Rekik] is an amazing chef,” Desta says. “She pours her heart into the menu.”

At this point, the full menu will be available all day, Desta says: “You can get what you crave when you crave it.” Eventually, Bole expects to add seasonal items, maybe some sweets, and a patio menu, possibly cooking on an outdoor grill.

Details

  • Bole Ethiopian Cuisine, 1341 Pascal.
  • Phone: 651-330-2492.
  • Website
  • Hours: Closed Mondays, but otherwise open six days a week, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
  • Carryout: Online or by phone (651-330-2492).
  • Cost: Appetizers range from $4-$9, sandwiches start at $8, and most entrees are $12-$15. Sampler and combo plates are available. Bole will serve wine and craft beer.


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Copyright 2021 Como Community Council. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

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Bole's Vegetarian Sampler

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