Biz buzz // Calhoun Square

Calhoun Square filling up with new tenants

October has been a busy month at Calhoun Square, as the mall announced the signing of three new tenants and plans to install five kiosks.

The Hennepin Avenue and Lake Street mall is in the latter part of a major renovation and expects to have more leases to announce in the coming weeks.

The new tenants include Hobbies from James, Geetanjoli Sari Fashion
and Agan Traders.  

Kiosk tenants include Global Cellular, which will sell phone accessories, and New York Shades, which will sell ornaments and toys until Christmas, when it will turn into a sunglasses retailer.

Geetanjoli owners Mary Kumar and Sachin “Kumar” Tiwari said they’re excited to be opening shop in late October or early November. Ironically, Calhoun Square was the place Kumar eyed when she first went looking for retail space for her then home-based shop in 2006.

Geetanjoli sells Indian clothing, gifts and house wear, with an emphasis on bridal wear and belly dancing accessories. Kumar said Geetanjoli sells only hand-made clothing imported from India.

Kumar originally ran the store from her home starting in 2001. She wanted to lease a space in Calhoun Square when she looked to expand in 2006, but she said the mall was preparing for a renovation and couldn’t take on new tenants.

Instead, she found 200 square feet in the Midtown Global Market. She’s since expanded to 400 square feet, but the Market hasn’t had room for her to expand further.

“I kept my eye open,” she said of Calhoun Square.

She and Tiwari say they’ll need the additional 1,100 square feet in Uptown, because business is booming.

Geentanjoli’s sales have gotten a boost from some chance sightings of Indian fashion in pop culture, Kumar said.

The style of shirts worn by characters in the 2008 film Slumdog Millionaire have become popular for American youngsters.

In November, when Michaele Salahi breached security to attend a White House state dinner honoring the Indian Prime Minister, the event drew national attention. It also gave exposure to fine Indian clothing that Salahi was wearing, Kumar said.  

Geentanjoli is one of few places to find Indian clothing in big and tall sizes, Tiwari said.

The store will sell most of what it does in the Midtown Global Market, such as scarves, shawls, party dresses and jewelry, but also offer more expensive options.

Agan Traders, a Minnesota-based company that operates a store in the Burnsville Center, will open on the first floor of Calhoun Square in November.

Calhoun Square spokeswoman Mary Lower said the store will sell knitted sweaters and jackets, hats and mittens, purses, jewelry, accessories and some home decor items.

Products are directly imported from Nepal, India and Thailand, according to the Agan Traders website.

Hobbies from James is part of the Games by James chain and planned for a late October opening. The store will sell board games, puzzles, brain teasers, game sets and collectable card games, among others.

Hobbies from James and Agan Traders did not return messages seeking additional details.  


New restaurant at 43rd & Nicollet aims for cozy, local dining experience

Heather Bray and Jodi Ayres have worked at fine restaurants with expensive food and a stuffy feel.

They want their new restaurant to be different; they want to provide a comfortable, neighborhood-dining experience that offers the ingredients of a “highbrow” establishment but the prices of a small pub.

So they’re calling their new restaurant Lowbrow, which will be in leased space next to rau + barber photography at 4244 Nicollet Ave. S.

“It’s the opposite of highbrow,” Bray said. “It’s where highbrow taste meets lowbrow style. The idea is that we just want to create a really accessible neighborhood restaurant with really fun, kind of reinvented classic tavern food, and we want to do it all from scratch.”

Bray is a shift supervisor at Ike’s Food and Cocktails in downtown and previously managed Lucia’s To Go in Uptown.

Ayres will run the kitchen. She previously cooked at Moose & Sadie’s downtown.

Ayres and Bray met working at the Birchwood Café in the Seward neighborhood. That’s where they were inspired by the idea of creating a small, neighborhood restaurant.

Before that, Ayres worked for several years in fine restaurants in Madison, Wis.

“I’ve really tried to get away from the fine dining world and more into comfortable scratch cooking, which is what I love to do,” she said.

Lowbrow will seat 73 and serve local beer and small-grower wine.

The menu?

“Jodi’s an amazing cook, and so she’s going to cook all this really great sort of classic tavern food, like burgers and fries, pork tacos and fish sticks. But all from scratch, nothing from freezer bags,” Bray said. “We’re also going to do it all from — whenever possible — locally sourced, family-farmed ingredients.”

As for the design, Bray and Ayres are taking advantage of a beautiful remodel that rau + barber did in 2007. The first-time restaurateurs are leasing half of rau + barber’s 8,600 feet that has hardwood floors and big windows.

“It’s a modern take on the classic, Northwoods style bar/supper club,” Ayres said. “Those were the places I was in love with when I was a kid. Those small, little spots off the side of the highway when you’re up north”

Ayres and Bray expect Lowbrow to open in January.

Rau + barber fans need not worry. The studio will remain open in the remaining space, said owner John Barber.


Lake Harriet Veterinary is first business to receive B.L.E.N.D award

Cathy and Jim Sinning became the first business ever to be given a B.L.E.N.D. award for their renovation of a rundown, mold- and asbestos-filled building on the corner of 43rd Street & Bryant Avenue.

B.L.E.N.D. awards are given to those who build or renovate their home or business to blend in with the surrounding neighborhood. The Sinnings were given the award in October. B.L.E.N.D. is four years old.

The Sinnings bought the property in 2006. The building was 94 years old at the time. The couple restored the brick façade, installed large windows and galvanized steel signage and awnings in front. The clinic was also noted for its landscaping work and eco-friendly design.

“The decision (to renovate the building) ultimately created a sustainable business that draws customers from all over the Twin Cities, employs multiple Southwest residents and will be a focal point of the neighborhood for decades to come,” the judges wrote.  

Prior to the clinic winning the award, only homes had received B.L.E.N.D. honors. The award was started by the Fulton Neighborhood Association but now includes most Southwest neighborhoods.


Simply Jane paint studio moving six blocks

Simply Jane, a paint studio in the Windom neighborhood, moved six blocks south to 5411 Nicollet Ave. S. The new site opened in October.

Elias said the new space is nicer, and also will allow the studio to reach a wider community. It will be one-level instead of two, making it handicap accessible.

The studio hosts painting parties for kids. It will continue to do that, but also is expanding to host art therapy for residents of group homes. Keeping everything on one floor will make it easier for those customers, owner Jane Elias said.

Simply Jane was honored this fall as “Best Kids’ Party Place” in Minnesota by Nickelodeon’s Parents Connect website.


More yoga for Southwest

Southwest can’t get enough yoga.

A new studio called The Om Collective is set to open Nov. 1 at 3350 Lyndale Ave. S.

It will bring a new popular style of yoga to the area — Anusara Yoga.

The style of yoga, founded by John Friend, has been gaining popularity around the country.

Ronna Rochell, one of three certified Anusara yoga teachers in Minnesota, is opening the studio with parnters Ali Certain, Jennifer Colletti and Lisa Van Ahn.

“Anusara is a great entry point for yoga beginners — but can be one that you’ll be committed for life,” said Rochell, who spent seven years training to be certified in the style. “Anusara is not just another yoga trend — it really works. It’s the yogic ocean, where you can start in the shallows, but the depths are endless. And though Anusara yoga is serious work, we have a lot of fun celebrating the good in ourselves and each other.”

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— Sarah McKenzie contributed to this report. Reach Nick Halter at [email protected]