A neighborhood where indie businesses thrive

Neighborhood Spotlight: Lyn-Lake

John Meegan, owner of Top Shelf — one of the nation’s largest sellers of custom clothing — has operated his business in Lyn-Lake for 18 years. Before that, the business was at Lake & Hennepin for 23 years.

As head of the neighborhood’s business association, Meegan is a cheerleader for one of the most charming and hippest slices of Minneapolis. Here are highlights of a recent Q&A with Meegan.

Q: How has the neighborhood changed/evolved since you’ve been in business?

Lyn-Lake has physically changed for the better since the reconstruction of Lake Street that stretched down to the river. The creation of a special service district, paid for by property owners has been an excellent partnership with the city in keeping the area looking clean, fences, benches, graffiti removal, snow clearing and holiday lighting making it a brighter and safer looking corner. I know the surrounding neighborhoods appreciate it, and give businesses a sense of pride in the area.

What are the greatest strengths of the Lyn-Lake area, in your opinion? 

Independent business ownership is what makes Lyn-Lake a very special place. You can walk inside 85 percent — if not more of the businesses in the area — and the owners will be working there. We aren’t so much of a regional destination like Uptown where the majority of businesses are national chains, we’re a neighborhood destination. It’s the neighborhoods of South Minneapolis that keep it alive.

What are some of the challenges/issues facing the area?

Lyn-Lake still needs to develop daytime traffic so that retail can survive on the corner. The restaurants and bars keep the place lively at night, but retail needs to be a destination or it just can’t make it. Development has been focused on rental housing, but we need daytime employment centers to balance traffic. Parking is the business communities’ biggest concern. We have plenty of capacity in the daytime, and not nearly enough at night.

What would be an ideal day for you in Lyn-Lake? 

An ideal day is hard to think about, but an ideal week is much easier. I’d bounce between Golden Leaf, Morrissey’s Irish Pub, It’s Greek to Me, Fuji Ya, Moto-i, the speakeasy that shall remain nameless, The Alt for a bike tune up, and jump on the Greenway for a great skate or bike ride in either direction. The Greenway is one of the greatest physical assets of Minneapolis and having it run right through the heart of Lyn-Lake is one of the best reasons to live close by.

What would make the neighborhood more vibrant?

I think a well run live music venue would be the thing I’d like to see most of all. I miss Cause. I love live music, and we have practically none. A book store like Magers and Quinn would be great, too.