Biz buzz


Southwest residents Mike Vanderscheuren and Eric Leugers — better known in the bicycle gear industry as the Banjo Brothers — began selling a new line of leather and canvas bike bags in August.

Launched under the Minnehaha Bag Co. brand, the bags were for sale at Calhoun Cycle, 3342 Hennepin Ave. S., and Penn Cycle, 710 W. Lake St., in Southwest, as well as several other Minneapolis locations.

“It’s the classic leather and canvas cycling gear, with our tweaks,” Vanderscheuren said.

He and Leugers founded Banjo Brothers International about four years ago, hoping to capitalize on the growing popularity of utility cycling, meaning bike-riding for everyday needs like getting to work or the grocery store, Vanderscheuren said.

And if you’re shopping on a bike or hauling a laptop to work, you need a bag. Canvas and leather bags have a long history in cycling, but these days have been eclipsed by gear made of cheaper, synthetic materials, like nylon.

“We saw a niche in the market for well-made, affordable bike gear,” Vanderscheuren said.

He said Minnehaha Bag Co. saddlebags, shoulder bags and panniers retail for a bit less than most other natural-material bags, which are often imported. They’re also offering a “vegan,” all-canvas grocery bag pannier, or pack designed to hang on a bicycle-mounted rack.

Unlike synthetic materials, canvas and leather age and develop a “personality” over time, he added.

“You have to treat it for the elements, but it’s going to last a long time,” Vanderscheuren said.


In anticipation of its overhaul, Steve’s Tire and Auto has moved to a temporary location at 3920 Nicollet Ave.

“We’re in the process of getting building,” owner Steve Johnston said earlier this month. Gas pumps at his 4601 Nicollet Ave. location were being disconnected, and the building was getting prepared for demolition.

In its place will rise a much larger structure that will focus exclusively on auto work. Gas will no longer be sold. The exterior of the new building is expected to echo the old firehouse on the opposite side of the intersection.

With the 46th Street bridge temporarily closed over Interstate 35W and traffic thus muted, Johnston thought this would be a prime opportunity to expand his business. He said he hopes the project will be completed no later than February.


A complete remodeling of Uptown Thai is underway at 2650 Hennepin Ave. S.

The old building, now demolished, used to be the site of a Sawatdee restaurant. It changed hands last year and operated briefly as Uptown Thai before construction began during the summer. Owner Steve Hein said the restaurant’s name would change again when construction is complete, but he hasn’t decided what to call it yet.

Hein said the revamp, which is only using a small center portion of the original building, will expand the building and give it a new look.

“It was old and outdated,” he said. “We wanted to be more competitive.”

The new restaurant will include a larger dining room and patio and a separate bar, Hein said. Everything else in the restaurant will also be brand new and different from before, from the bathrooms to the kitchen.

The building’s design will incorporate “a lot of big windows,” especially up front, Hein said. “It will be a lot nicer and more upscale,” he said.

New landscaping, ample bicycle parking and a larger parking lot with no drive-through lane are also part of the plans. Hein said he hopes to have construction complete by the end of November and open around the same time.

Hours will be 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Monday-Saturday and noon-midnight on Sunday. Patio hours will vary depending on what works for the neighborhood, he said.

The restaurant’s phone number will stay the same: 377-4418.

Biz buzz


While at the national level, tensions and questions are high about a bee population that seems to be inexplicably fading. How does that affect Minnesota’s beekeepers?

Linden Hills Co-op is hosting a class that will answer that question and more. Michael Whitt and Victoria Ranua, of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, will be at the co-op 6:30–8 p.m. Sept. 9 to discuss the latest management concerns from a small beekeeper’s perspective.

Along with educating the public, Whitt and Ranua also will hand out samples.

“If you want to learn about the bee population up here, this class is for you,” said Jeanne Lakso, member services manager for the co-op.

The event is part of the “Eat Local America” challenge, which runs through Sept. 15. Participants in the challenge pledged to have at least 80 percent of their food come from local sources within the five-state area and less than eight hours away.

The class, called “Are the bees really disappearing?”, costs $5 for the general public and $3 for co-op members. Because space is limited, the co-op asks that people register in advance by calling 922-1159.

For more information, send an e-mail to [email protected].


If all goes according to Dave Vogelgesang’s plans, Aqua City Plumbing, 5428 Nicollet Ave., will be moving and a new building will rise at its current location.

The Aqua City owner spoke before the Tangletown Neighborhood Association at its Aug. 18 meeting, presenting preliminary plans for a new two-story structure. The first floor would be designated as retail space — the idea of a Chipotle was mentioned at the meeting — and the top would either be used as an additional 5,000 square feet for retail or for five residential units.

If plans go forward, Vogelgesang told the neighborhood board that Aqua City Plumbing likely would move several blocks south into the same building as Aqua City Irrigation, 6045 Pillsbury Ave. S.

This isn’t the first time Vogelgesang has had plans to change the 54th & Nicollet site. In 2003, he told the Southwest Journal he was planning to knock down Aqua City’s building and replace it with an 8,000-square-foot structure to open by fall 2004.


EAST ISLES — The YWCA Uptown is promising cleaner, healthier swimming through the conversion of its pool to ultraviolet purification.

The upgrade began in August, and was just one part of its larger “Greener, Greater Uptown YWCA” renovation project. The YWCA aimed to shrink its carbon footprint while at the same time making its facility healthier for patrons.

The organization reported that the ultraviolet purification system should lessen the need for chlorine. Chlorine disinfects pool water, but it also can irritate eyes, skin and hair.

The YWCA added that there should be less of the chemical compound chloramine in the pool and air. Chloramine in high concentrations can cause respiratory problems.

The new ultraviolet filters reportedly reduce chloramine concentrations by up to 70 percent.

Installation of the ultraviolet system began Aug. 18.