The acclaimed Minnesota restauranteur David Fhima needed to combine a stylishly updated bistro with a massive commercial kitchen in a historically preserved space. By choosing Cambria’s Galloway™ and Brittanicca Gold Warm™ designs, he was able to create a vintage feel that is both elegant and warm. At the same time, both designs stand up beautifully to the demands of a busy nightspot.


“This is not a remodel, this is not a preservation, and this is not a restoration. It’s all of those things. If we respect the history of the space and honor the ghosts that live here—because they do, they are here—then they will not kick us out.”

—David Fhima, Restaurateur, Fhima’s Minneapolis


Culinary entrepreneur David Fhima immigrated to the United States in the early 1980s with just $100 and a small jar of 130- year-old starter dough, gifted to him by his mother. Fast forward to today and now Fhima and his team are the proud providers of artisan breads and French pastries—all of which stem from that same jar of mother dough, which is continuously fed and watched over—to high-profile customers like Target Center, Levy Restaurants, the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Minnesota Lynx, and the 18 Minnesota-area LifeCafes at Life Time fitness centers. To create that much bread, Fhima needed a massive kitchen to use as a commissary for his ongoing baking projects, one with high-powered commercial baking equipment. He found the ideal, albeit somewhat complicated, location in what used to be Forum Cafeteria but was now situated at the base of the City Center building in downtown Minneapolis.

“The space dates back to the late 1800s and was originally constructed to be a theater,” said Fhima. “It actually was a theater for quite a while but then it became different venues to eat and dance. It was once the hottest place to disco and also the hottest place to have brisket and mashed potatoes.” Storied, iconic, and legendary, the space had fallen into a state of disrepair, one complicated by Minneapolis historic preservation laws that made much of the tile, mirrors, and chandeliers unalterable. Fhima embraced the challenge, embarking on a two-year process that culminated in the 2018 opening of Fhima’s Minneapolis, which pays homage to its roots while still maintaining an updated modern yet delicate aesthetic.


When restoring a historically preserved space, none of the added elements should appear out of context in the design. Fhima enlisted the help of American-made and Minnesota-based quartz surface producer Cambria to redo the restaurant’s oval-shaped back bar in a period-appropriate white and gold theme. Using Galloway™ and Brittanicca Gold Warm™ designs, the Lucite construction of the bar let the warm golden hue of the stone shine through with strategic underlighting that added to the vintage vibe.

The teams cantilevered the bar from the ceiling in its original location to allow sight lines across the expanse of the traditional French bistro that glow in the distinctive tints of Cambria’s designs, also reflected in the redone black and gold flooring. “David and I had a great conversation about his vision for the space,” said Cambria Executive Vice President of Business Development Summer Kath, the creative force behind all new design launches at Cambria. “He wanted to honor and really bring out the best of the space and its historical attributes yet still bring in elements that modernize it just enough but still look like they belong there.”

With 200+ dynamic designs, the Cambria design palette has a solution for every need. And since Cambria surfaces feature unparalleled strength and durability—they’re nonabsorbent, scratch and stain resistant, and maintenance free—they’re perfect to handle the demands of a bustling crowd.

“Cambria gives it the heart and gives it the soul, while still preserving the essence of the space. I love the look.”

—David Fhima, Restaurateur, Fhima’s Minneapolis