BIZ BUZZ // Back in Blackbird

Nine months after a fire destroyed their popular neighborhood restaurant, Gail Mollner and Chris Stevens have opened a new Blackbird Café at 38th & Nicollet. 

Regulars didn’t mind the new location, two miles away from their 50th & Bryant spot, Stevens said a week after the Nov. 8 opening. 

“Every night has been like a family reunion,” he said. 

Though the flames destroyed nearly everything in the old Blackbird, there’s plenty of familiarity in the new place.

Stevens, the chef, is still cooking his popular walleye po’ boys, spicy peanut noodles and brisket sandwiches, all from scratch. 

Every staff member, except one law school student, is back waiting tables and cooking food. 

The atmosphere is still eclectic. One wall is filled with old mirrors and the other, by popular demand, is filled with antlers, a staple of the old place. 

“People on Facebook freaked out about the antlers, so we had to bring them back,” Stevens said, adding that most were destroyed in the fire and some were replaced by donations from regulars.

But there are new aspects at 38th & Nicollet. The café has 76 seats, compared to 45 at the old Blackbird. The kitchen is laid out better for more efficient preparation. The menu will change regularly, and popular new items include poke lettuce wraps with ahi, sesame, radish and avocado as well as a tuna hot dish with seared ahi, cavatappi, spinach and garlic cream. 

Stevens said the new space appealed to the couple because it was nearby the old Blackbird, had a corner location with big windows looking out onto 38th & Nicollet and had a cozy feel. The new space has hardwood floors and a copper bar. 

Blackbird Café is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

Artsy Digs gets new digs

Artsy Digs, the “funky, fun vintage” Tangletown shop, moved two doors down the block to 4760 Grand Ave. S., the former location of Sun Gallery. 

Artsy’s new digs are two to three times bigger than the old location, said owner Lisa Gilroyed. That will allow the shop to open a children’s boutique within the store called “Pout.”

Artsy Digs will also have a larger selection of what it already sold: vintage furniture, jewelry, gifts, lunch boxes, custom signs and more, Gilroyed said. 

The shop usually only opens for one extended weekend a month. But this month it is open Dec. 4–5 and Dec. 9–12. For hours and more information, visit the store’s Facebook page titled “Artsy Digs.”

Wood-fired, thin-crust pizza arrives in Armatage

A new pizzeria opened at 56th & Xerxes Ave. in late November. 

Pizzeria Lola, 5557 Xerxes Ave., will offer thin crust pizzas, baked in a large wood-fired oven. 

Ann Kim, a former actor, designed the menu. She studied pizza making in San Fransisco at the International School of Pizza. The pizza at Pizzerial Lola will be a combination of familiar tastes and uncommon flavors like guanciale, soft egg and green onion. 

Kim partnered with Conrad Leifur to open the restaurant. 

The new pizza joint will also serve beer and wine.

Studio opens inside Historic Semple Mansion

Brett Dorrian Artistry Studios held its grand opening Nov. 3 in the Historic Semple Mansion, 100 W. Franklin Ave. 

The studio, located at Suite 104 inside the mansion, specializes in bridal services — makeup, hair and other beauty services. Brett Dorian is a Minnesota native with 10 years experience in doing makeup for film television, commercial, print, fashion, runway, theater, special effects, design and instruction. 

Other services include spray tanning, skin care consultations, bachelorette party packages, boudoir and engagement session styling and individual and group lessons. 

For more, visit brettdorrianartistry.com.

Fair trade art gallery with Latin-America flare opens in Lyn-Lake

Jessica Smith has spent most of her life working at local and international nonprofits that help Spanish-speaking people. 

She’s lived in many Latin-America counties, but one experience of hers provides a good example of why on Nov. 20 she opened Regla De Oro Gallery at 3007 Lyndale Ave. S.

Smith was living in Nicaragua and visited a small home gutted to make a factory. Inside were workers who had gained ceramic skills from Mennonite missionaries. They were making beautiful vases and being paid 10 cents for each vase. When Smith later visited a national retailer in Minnesota, she saw the same vases being sold for $50–$100. 

Regla De Oro translates to mean “The Golden Rule,” or treating others the way you want to be treated. All of the gallery’s artwork will be free trade certified, ensuring those involved in its productions are compensated fairly. She’ll also donate some of the profits to social justice organizations. 

Smith’s first featured artist is Tammy Ortegon of Minneapolis, who paints portraits and local landscape, including many Southwest neighborhoods. 

She’s also stocking the same pottery from the Nicaraguans she visited, as well as art from people whom learned at a school she helped start in Nicaragua years ago. 

For more information, visit regladeoro.com. 

Leadership change at Museum of Russian Art

Judi Dutcher is resigning as executive director of the Museum of Russian Art in order to take the same position at the Bentson Foundation in Edina.

Bradford Shinkle, IV will take over for Dutcher. Shinkle previously held the position before retiring. 

The transition will be complete Dec. 1. 

The museum is located at 5500 Stevens Ave. S. For more, visit tmora.org.

Corner Table offers cooking classes 

Corner Table, 43rd & Nicollet, is offering cooking classes this winter at Rustica Bakery, 3220 W. Lake St. 

Chef Scott Pampuch will teach students how to make a Sunday supper that “builds the foundation for meals throughout the week.” That includes lessons on braising, roasting, soup and stock. 

Classes cost $100. To view the schedule and make reservations, visit cornertablerestaurant.com. 

Edina Realty launches iPhone application

Edina Realty this month launched an application for iPhones, iPads and iTouches that allows users to search real estate listings, view photos, find open houses and see current mortgage rates. 

The application is free. To find out more, visit edinarealty.com. 

New management at Chino Latino

Chino Latino, 2916 Hennepin Ave. S., announced this month it has hired a new executive chef and general manager. 

Chef Tuan Nguyen has a background in Vietnamese, Taiwanese, Carribean and French cuisine. He was executive chef at Wolfgang Puck in Las Vegas and cooked in several other restaurants. In the Twin Cities, he worked at Goodfellows and served as executive chef at the California Café and Napa Valley Grille. 

General Manager Tom Schoenberger comes from Seattle’s renowned restaurant Wild Ginger. 

According to Chino Latino’s operator, Parasole Restaurant Holdings, restaurant changes will take place in February 2011. 

Mozza Mia opens at 50th & France

Parasole Restaurant Holdings opened Mozza Mia at 50th & France on Nov. 22. 

Mozza Mia will serve wood-fired pizzas from chef Vitorrio Renda. The pizzeria will also have a mozzarella bar serving fresh cheese. 

“You can dine at a table or a booth, or grab a seat at the liquor bar or mozzarella bar,” Parasole CEO Phil Roberst said in a press release. “You can reserve a table — or not. You can come alone or with a group. There are no rules. After all, we’re just a simple pizzeria.”

Mozza Mia, 3810 W. 50th St., is open for dinner only and has a full bar. 

Parasole operates several restaurants in Minneapolis, including the Uptown Cafeteria and Support Group, Chino Latino, Il Gato, Manny’s Steakhouse and Burger Jones.  

Reach Nick Halter at nhalter@mnpubs.com.