Business News

Business related items going on in the Southwest Minneapolis Area.

Lake & Excelsior La Toscana Ristorante, 3320 W. Lake St., closed Nov. 22 after being open for five and a half years. In a statement left near the door, owner Art Higginbotham said, "… La Toscana can no longer generate enough revenue to cover expenses."

La Toscana was a high-end Italian restaurant, known for its innovative and authentic cuisine. The restaurant’s interior dcor radiated a warm, Italian ambiance.

Higginbotham’s letter described how the sour economy and the Bush administration negatively affected business.

The Star Tribune reported in early 2002 that Higginbotham had fired his main chef in attempts to cut costs, leading to rumors of an impending closing.

Higginbotham did not return calls for comment. — Robyn Repya

Lake & Excelsior Since Nora’s Restaurant, 3118 W. Lake St. closed Oct. 29, its owners have been trying to decide what to do with the space. Nora’s co-owner Tryg Truleson (Nora Truelson’s son), said after exploring their options, they’ve decided to build a new restaurant in Nora’s place.

The Truelson family has owned and operated Nora’s space for more than 40 years. The space formerly housed a Porky’s restaurant, but for the past 17 years was home to Nora’s, known for steaks, martinis and onion rings.

The Truelson family said the area’s development (mostly commercial) hurt Nora’s business. To counter that,

Tryg Truelson said they’re gearing their new restaurant to a younger generation,

to better mesh with the transformed


The new concept has not been finalized, and no opening date has been set. — Robyn Repya

Lake & Lyndale The Wedge Peruvian restaurant, Machu Picchu, 2940 Lyndale Ave. S., has expanded into the vacant shop space next door.

When the Iya Sofia jewelry store left the next-door retail space in October, Machu Picchu owner Fernando Palomino said expanding his operation would be too expensive but has since changed his mind. Palomino owns the building that houses both spaces.

David Hasbrouck, Palomino’s son-in-law, is doing the renovation work and said it should be complete by the end of January. "We’re putting in a bar and a waiting room," he said.

The bar addition came just in time, as the restaurant was recently granted a full liquor license by the city, an upgrade from its wine and beer license.

When Palomino applied for the license, he said he wanted to serve a Peruvian hard liquor called Pisco, which he said is similar to Tequila. But he had said he’s also seeking the upgrade to better compete with other area restaurants licensed for a full bar. — Robyn Repya

32nd & Nicollet Jose Aguirre recently opened Valerie’s Meat Market in a renovated building at 3149 Nicollet Ave. S. Featuring fresh meats and imported Mexican foods, the Morelos, Mexico native also sells fruits, vegetables, chili peppers, Mexican candy, pinatas and Mexican delicacies in the large, bright supermarket.

A butcher by trade, Aguirre makes his own chorizo sausage from scratch, as well as enchiladas, pork skin and other dishes from south of the border. He worked for many years at Me Gusta Meat Market at 1515 E. Lake St. before starting his own business. Valerie’s phone number is

823-4400. — Bob Gilbert

34th & Lyndale After 26 years in business, Sandy Whiteford, owner of Repeat Performance Vintage Clothing, 3404 Lyndale Ave. S., said she is leaving and may close her store. The store has an impressive selection of vintage clothing and accessories for women and a multitude of men’s suits.

Whiteford said the business might carry on without her, adding that two interested parties are considering buying the business from her. However, she said if they decide not to, she would close Feb. 1.

Whiteford said she will focus on an eight-year-old espresso business in the Wisconsin Dells.

"I’ve met so many great people these 26 years and have only had five bad checks — that says something," said Whiteford, a Wedge resident. "It’s going to be really hard to leave."

She said until she closes permanently — or someone takes over — store hours are Monday-Wednesday 1 p.m.-7 p.m., Thursday and Friday 9 a.m.-7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

Whiteford said items are half-price on Sundays, but the beginning of the week is the best time to come because that’s when she stocks new vintage merchandise. — Robyn Repya

38th & Nicollet Hong Mim Chu is preparing to open Hong’s Kitchen Chinese, 3752 Nicollet Ave. S., in a space formerly occupied by Domino’s Pizza. Chu, who has spent most of December remodeling, said he would be ready for a grand opening in mid-January.

He said his new business will feature traditional Chinese dishes such as General’s Chicken, Mongolian Beef and noodle soup and will be pick-up, delivery and catering only.

Chu said he’s not new to the restaurant business, having had restaurants in Columbus, Ohio; Chicago; and New York. For his first Minneapolis business, he will introduce a new menu item, an Asian wrap.

Hours for the new kitchen are Monday-Sunday from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. For more information, call 827-2322. — Robyn Repya

46th & Grand The Color Wheel Salon & Gallery, opened Dec. 3 at 319 W. 46th St. The shop owner and sole stylist, Tammy Ortegon, lives in Kingfield and has worked as a hair stylist and artist in the area for years.

She said she’s excited to combine the two disciplines in a store of her own.

Ortegon is hosting a grand opening celebration Sunday, Jan. 11 from 3-9 p.m.

No hair services will be offered that day, but attendees can view the artwork and book future appointments. Ortegon’s vivid work, greatly influenced by Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, is prominent throughout the cozy shop.

She said in addition to providing traditional salon services such as waxing, nail services, haircuts, colors and treatments, she would also exhibit local art (including her Southwest highlight scenes from neighborhood intersections.) Ortegon said she also be selling hair products and gift items like soap, jewelry, collectables and her art.

She said she’s priced haircuts at $17 and cuts for children and seniors cost just $15. Walk-ins are welcome, but appointments are encouraged. Salon hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. For more information, call 823-5693. — Robyn Repya

48th & Grand The Universal Market is a New Age gift shop that opened at 318 W. 48th St. in October. It sells rocks, crystals and gemstones, self-help books and gifts but is also a place that promotes the psychic arts by offering classes, workshops and seminars on specific physical and spiritual topics.

Owner Wendi Moore-Buysse hopes make it a focal point in the community for spiritual development and personal growth. She refers to herself as the market’s director. She rents private space in the store for likeminded individuals who specialize in massage therapy, bodywork, life coaching, counseling, readings and healings. There will also be psychic panels wherein customers can come in and interview as many as six psychics at one time.

The Burnsville native considered opening her store in the suburbs but thought the Tangletown neighborhood was a better choice. "You can’t put a business that has a lot of character in a suburb where there is none," Moore-Buyesse said.

"Starting the business and finding other people who would join in was easy," she said, "because this community is hungry for this kind of information."

The market is open Wednesday through Sunday. To get on their mailing list, call 825-2280 or 709-9754. — Bob Gilbert

54th & Lyndale Borton Volvo, 5428 Lyndale Ave. S., is accepting nominations for their first "Minnesota Volvo for Life Awards," in conjunction with other Twin Cities Volvo dealers, to honor community volunteers.

The statewide contest will produce "Minnesota’s greatest hometown hero" who will earn up to $25,000 for Minnesota charities. Second- and third-place finishers will receive $15,000 and $10,000, respectively.

Borton will also donate $10 to the Life Award fund for every test drive at its facility.

Nominations are open until Jan. 16. Celebrity judges will pick the Minnesota winner in February. He or she will be entered in Volvo’s national contest in one of three categories: safety, quality of life and environment. National category winners will earn $50,000 for the charity of their choice, and one overall winner will receive a new Volvo every three years for the rest of his or her life.

To nominate someone you know or learn more about the program, visit — Robyn Repya

Vacant space: Lake & Irving Giorgio Cherubini closed his population Italian restaurant Giorgio’s, 1601 W. Lake St. on Nov. 29, leaving building owner LeAnn Bamford with a hole to fill.

Bamford disputes Cherubini’s contention (SW Journal, Nov. 20-Dec. 3) that he left because of a 50-percent rent hike. She said Cherubini never intended to renew the lease because he wanted to move the restaurant to the suburbs. "He really wasn’t going to renew the lease," she said. "He said if we lowered the (existing), rent he might consider staying."

Bamford said she’s currently trying to lease the restaurant’s former space and acknowledges she is trying to raise its rent — but by less than 50 percent. For more information about leasing the space, call Liz Picking with Cambridge Commercial 952-933-0042. — Robyn Repya