The Free Press, Mankato, MN

June 7, 2013

Dino's debut

North Mankato pizzeria begins live music offerings with Twin Cities bluesman

By Emre K. Erku
Special to The Free Press

---- — NORTH MANKATO -- When people think of North Mankato’s Dino’s Pizzeria, they might think of biting into a slice of heaven while taste buds are invaded by melting mozzarella.

For accompaniment, they might think of sipping a glass of pinot noir while admiring the brick walls interior.

But despite the balance of deliciousness and charming surroundings, something may be missing. It isn’t the table, which is candlelit for romance, nor is it the servers, taking orders in meticulous fashion.

It’s something else …

Connor Wehrwein, Dino’s kitchen-manager-turned-booking-agent, has the answer: Live music.

Fueled by Wehrwein’s idea, Dino’s now showcases live music on the first Friday of every month.

By searching for acts that will fuse harmoniously into the laid-back, bistro atmosphere, Wehrwein hopes to add to the costumers’ experience.

“I’m looking for anything more suitable to classy music,” Wehrwein said, describing his booking strategy, “folk singers and cover artists.”

As such, the brand new booking agent selected Jack Klatt, a Minneapolis roots musician for the first-ever set inside the restaurant.

The 26-year-old fingerpicking, delta blues artist has established himself with authority on the Minneapolis music scene, cutting tracks with well-known Minnesota artists such as Spider John Koerner, Dakota Dave Hull and Charlie Parr. To Wehrwein’s luck, Klatt cordially accepted the invite to make his debut in Mankato.

Using Facebook as a means to gain contact with the artist, the one-time kitchen manager succeeded in gaining the folk musician’s interest.

“Hiring him wasn’t difficult at all,” Wehrwein said. “He did it right away – he’s never played in Mankato before.”

According Klatt’s website, he “has sang in countless barrooms, cafes, living rooms, theaters and street corners all over the world.” His material, which is a modern-sounding mixture of folk legends Bob Dylan and Utah Phillips, should sound right at home in North Mankato's old-fashioned pizzeria.

Wehrwein said he hopes the performance will juimpstart Dino’s progress in hiring more performers in the future. As of now, the budget for hiring acts is limited, which is part of the reason why the restaurant only includes performances on the first Friday of every month.

“It’s a new thing for Dino’s," Wehrwein said, "and we wont have a high enough budget until it’s financially worth it.”

If You Go What Jack Klatt performance Where Dino's Pizzeria, 239 Belgrade Ave. When 8:30 p.m. today