Business Buzz

Business related issues going on in and around Southwest Minneapolis

18th and Nicollet After a year’s delay, Big E’s Soul Food, 1831 Nicollet Ave. S., has set a grand opening date: Saturday, Feb. 15.

The 15-seat restaurant will offer Southern cuisine with classic French cooking techniques, said chef and owner Eric Austin, who said he has cooked at places such as the Loring Caf and Cafe un deux trois.

Menu items at Big E’s will range from ribs, pork chops and barbequed chicken to grits, hush puppies and dirty rice.

Big E’s will have a Sunday brunch, with items such as crab cakes, waffles and chicken, he said. Sunday evenings — "Mardi Gras Sundays" — will feature New Orleans cooking, such as Louisiana gumbo, jambalaya and lemon-broiled catfish.

The most expensive item on the menu will be a $16 platter for four, Austin said. The building needed more repairs and remodeling than expected, delaying the opening, Austin said.

The hours are M-Sa 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. and Su 10:30 a.m.- 9 p.m. For more information, go the web at www.bigesoul.com. — Scott Russell

24th and Hennepin Golooney’s East Coast Pizza Caf, 2329 Hennepin Ave., is seeking a city liquor license. Owner Robin Bernabo has already gained approval from the Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association at their January meeting; Bernabo said he’s just waiting on the city to approve longer hours.

Bernabo is seeking a beer and wine license but said he would only serve tap beer, as bottles could clutter his outdoor seating area. He said the restaurant would also station an employee as a bouncer of sorts near the entrance.

Bernabo’s wife and business co-owner, Elizabeth Bernabo, said that since the economic slowdown hit, business has been off, particularly following Christmas. She said she hopes adding beer will boost dinner sales.

Elizabeth Bernabo said the restaurant would also begin serving an "East Coast" breakfast by March 1, consisting of coffee, eggs and bacon and egg-and-cheese sandwiches. Earlier hours to accommodate breakfast have not been set. The restaurant is currently open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. — Robyn Repya

25th and Hennepin The Clarion Group, 2524 Hennepin Ave. S., specializing in tax, investment and mortgage services, opened Jan. 27 just across 25th Street from Pasqual’s restaurant in the East Isles neighborhood. Tony Truman, chief financial officer for the company, said the group has five employees with more than 25 years of experience combined.

Truman said the group focuses on taxes, bookkeeping and accounting, and mortgage refinancing services. He said the group, who had previously worked out of their homes, has developed a good client base, and although they take walk-in business, they prefer to set up appointments.

Operating hours are Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-9 p.m. during tax season (through April 15) and Saturday, noon-5 p.m. — Robyn Repya

28th and Lyndale Owners of the Egg and I, 2828 Lyndale Ave. S., have declared it a smoke-free restaurant as of Feb. 1. Co-owner Eric Grotdeck said he and his mother, the other owner, have considered the no-smoking policy for a while. "We decided to do it for health reasons," he said. "People will be able to enjoy their breakfast better."

Grotdeck said smoking has been problematic at the restaurant, since customers have told him they won’t come back to the restaurant because it was too smoky. He said he’s had numerous requests to ban smoking.

Based on his experience at another restaurant, Grotdeck said a ventilation system wouldn’t work in one large room such as the Lyndale location. Such a system would cost $3,000, he said.

Grotdeck said although not everyone is happy with the decision, most of his regular clients who smoke have understood his decision. He said he’s not trying to discriminate against smokers. "We hope they’re coming in here for the food and atmosphere, not the smoking," he said. — Robyn Repya

Lake and Dupont Spin Cycle, 2937 Dupont Ave. in the Lowry Hill East (Wedge) neighborhood, is now open 24 hours a day for coin laundry service.

Market Manager Jeff Jannette said consumers wanted the change so they could avoid coming in on busy weekends. He said overnight operation is also important for people who work late, because many apartment buildings restrict washing-machine use after 10 p.m.

Jannette said the 24-hour service would also help his business financially. He said his customer base is 20 percent lower than 24-hour Spin Cycle stores, and he expects to make up the difference. — Robyn Repya

53rd and nicollet On Jan. 24, a federal court judge dismissed all federal claims against the city of Minneapolis by Paul Warnert, owner of Bobby and Steve’s Autoworld, 5801 Nicollet Ave. S. in the Windom neighborhood.

Warnert filed a suit after the City Council denied construction plans for a new auto facility in August. The city’s Zoning and Planning Committee originally approved the plans. However, following a public hearing featuring resident opposition, the full council denied needed conditional-use permits for the proposed car wash, convenience store, repair shop and gas-pump facility.

Assistant City Attorney Scott Reeves said that in addition to dismissing federal claims, the judge also declined to hear Warnert’s state claims.

Warnert said he plans to bring his claim before a state court.

While pursuing his claim, Warnert said he’s considering altering the construction plans that spurred the legal battle to appease neighbors. However, he added, nothing has been decided yet.

"We might just put in a big service center and be done with it," he said. — Robyn Repya