Biz buzz // Apple store opens

Apple opens to great fanfare in Uptown

After months of public speculation and anticipation, Apple Store, Uptown opened June 19 near the corner of Hennepin Avenue and 31st Street.

A line of more than 100 people, some who had been waiting for hours, stretched down the block prior to 10 a.m., when the doors swung open and hoopla ensued. Dozens of blue-shirted Apple employees cheered, high-fived customers and handed out free T-shirts.

“We believe in this community,” said Apple senior leader Duke Zurek. “We’ve been watching the rejuvenation of Uptown that’s been happening now for years and we feel strongly that now is the time to be here.”

The new stand-alone store, stocked with iPhones, iPads, iPods, laptop and desktop computers, software and a vast selection of accessories, is Apple’s largest retail outlet in the Twin Cities area and features a Briefing Room for business clients that is unique among the company’s stores worldwide.

“This is a concept that is a fresh new design for Apple, just announced with this store’s opening,” Zurek said.

The entire store, made of huge glass panels and stainless steel, is unlike any other in the region, Zurek said. A 45-foot-long skylight provides ample natural illumination and a rooftop garden and patio is just outside the Briefing Room on the second level.

That room, fitted with a long wooden table, chic chairs, huge video screens, iPads and other high-tech features, will be available for business clients large and small and also serve as a place for hands-on workshops.

“We want to be here not only for the consumer, but for the business as well,” Zurek said.

The store has all the staff know-how and equipment needed for in-store setup, training and troubleshooting. It has a kids’ zone, too, with information about Apple’s summer camp coming up in July.   

Zurek said the store, located on the former Uptown Bar site, would also host a variety of community events including live concerts. The first is scheduled for June 23, when Mates of State will perform.

If the line outside the store on June 19 was any indication, the store should have plenty of business.

“It’s four blocks away from my house, so why not wait in line? Why not, on a Saturday? And I want the free T-shirt,” said Mark Dostal, a nearby resident who had been standing in line for hours with son Kieran Dostal.

He planned to buy an iPad case at the store that day, but said he’d probably continue going to longtime Apple retailer First Tech a few blocks north on Hennepin. Others in the line were also loyal First Tech customers, but undeniably excited about the opening of a large Apple store in the area.

The new store opened less than a week before the June 24 arrival of the iPhone 4 — a device that garnered 600,000 worldwide orders in a single day.  

Apple’s other Twin Cities stores are in the Mall of America, Southdale, Ridgedale and Rosedale shopping centers.

Store hours in Uptown are 10 a.m.–9:30 p.m. Monday–Saturday and 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Sunday. Go to apple.com/uptown for more information.

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A pizzeria on wheels

The next time a bright red fire engine blares down the streets of the Twin Cities, it might not be on its way to put out a fire. In fact, it might be getting ready to start one.

Nathan Lane, founder of Thyme to Entertain Catering and Special Events, 2615 Lyndale Ave., brought his innovative idea to life when he transformed a full-size 1972 Ford fire engine into a mobile wood-fired pizzeria, a creation he calls Streetzza.

“We’re always trying to bring new concepts to the people of the Twin Cities,” Lane said. “Let’s do something different.”

Lane got the Streetzza idea about two years ago and said the renovation took about four months to complete.

The Streetzza truck is outfitted with all the supplies to make traditional wood-fired pizzas: running water, refrigeration, preparation space and a custom-built wood-fired clay oven, which heats to over 1,000 degrees, allowing pizzas to be baked in about two minutes. In addition, Lane and his employees make the pies from scratch. They use only the freshest ingredients from the finest cheeses to locally grown tomatoes. A wide variety of toppings are available, allowing guests to fully customize their pizzas.

Lane’s company also raises about $100,000 a year to support local firehouses and volunteer firefighters, individuals he admires for their ability to risk their lives while still working another full-time job.

“From one to ten, the level of fuzziness is a ten every time,” Lane said. “People think it’s probably one of the coolest things out there.”

And though Streetzza is available for private rental all over the Twin Cities — they’ve done bar mitzvahs, graduations, retirements and corporate parties — the bright red truck can also be seen at local fairs, farmers markets and some city streets. He added that he’s trying get Streetzza at this year’s Taste of Minnesota celebration.

“It’s every little boy’s dream to have a fire truck,” Lane quipped.

Catering prices vary based on the size of the group. Lane can be reached at 871-2199. Go to thymetoentertain.com for more information.

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Meet Zeus Jones, SooVAC’s new neighbor

Marketing firm Zeus Jones will move in July from the Uptown Row building on West Lake Street to the former Soo Visual Arts Center space at 2640 Lyndale Ave. S.

Zeus Jones co-founder Rob White said they wanted to keep the office in the area, and were attracted to the “up-and-coming, independent, free thinking” spirit of Lyn-Lake. They found their opportunity when Soo Visual Arts Center, known SooVAC, moved this spring to an adjacent space in the same building it has occupied since 2001.

“That’s one of the things we’re excited about in the move to the new building, is having [SooVAC founder] Suzy [Greenberg] as a new landlord,” White said.

Founded by five former employees of Downtown advertising powerhouse Fallon Worldwide, Zeus Jones opened shop in Uptown in March 2007. The firm has since grown to about 15 employees, too big for its office above Tum Rup Thai, White said.

Zeus Jones clients include Nordstrom, General Mills and the Haagen-Dazs stores.

White described Zeus Jones as a reaction to an industry “in flux,” adding today’s firms “need a variety of disciplines coming together in different ways.”

“Our creatives are really creative problem-solvers,” he said.

For more on the changes at SooVAC, see this week’s Art Beat column.

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Butter bakery moving two blocks

Daniel Swenson-Klatt, owner of popular Lyndale eatery Butter Bakery, 3544 Grand Ave. S., recently closed a deal on a larger space at 38th Street and Grand and is hoping to move and reopen by early November.

The new site will combine the former Fairy Godmother and Great Metropolitan Back Rub spaces. Swenson-Klatt said the larger location would allow Butter to better continue its multiple operations.

“Since I’ve been there, in four-and-a-half years, we’ve been attempting to be three places in one: a bakery, a coffee shop and this little kind-of neighborhood café thing, and early on all three seemed to get along pretty well,” he said. “But especially in this past year, the bakery and coffee shop have been competing with the café and there’s just not enough room to be all three in one spot.”

The new location will have a larger kitchen and more defined spaces for each use. It will also have more room for displaying baked goods.

The menu will be the same and will most likely stretch throughout the day, Swenson-Klatt said. Hours would likely be 7 a.m.–
10 p.m. He isn’t seeking a liquor license.

He said many of his customers walk from the neighborhood, and he’s hoping they’ll follow him a couple blocks.

He said he was still working on finalizing some financing details, but he hopes to start construction work in July and transition in November with minimal closed-time.

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Rice Paper relocating next month

Rice Paper, known for its Vietnamese inspired menu and more specifically its tofu, will soon be leaving its quaint Linden Hills location for the business node of 50th and France.

An Nguyen, owner of Rice Paper, said the move is motivated by the increased exposure the restaurant will gain from moving to the area that already features over 175 retailers.

“Unless you live in south Minneapolis or the Linden Hills area, you are really hidden from the rest of the Twin Cities,” Nguyen said.

Rice Paper’s loyal customers will be rewarded for following the restaurant, according to Nguyen, who said the new location will be much easier to access and park at. The menu will be extended to a number of gluten-free offerings, new tofu dishes and an original afternoon tea section that will feature carefully selected teas accompanied by appropriate small dishes.

Also, the peaceful atmosphere and familiar bamboo associated with Rice Paper will continue, but Nguyen said it would now have a more modern feel that will better fit the 50th and France neighborhood.