Biz buzz

New neighborhood pizza joint a big hit

Prior to opening a new pizza restaurant at 56th & Xerxes, Ann Kim was a relative newcomer to the culinary world.

Kim had spent most of her adult life as an actor before having a change of heart. Just before her new venture, Pizzeria Lola, opened for dinner on a Wednesday evening, Kim slid a margherita pizza into the big, copper-sided wood-fire oven that commands the middle of the new restaurant.

“Most people thought we were crazy, having no experience, nobody backing us, just putting everything we had into it. And now it’s paying off,” she said. “People love it and it’s been busy every single day.”

For Kim and business partner Conrad Leifur, the first month in the restaurant business has been surprisingly successful and gratifying, but also exhausting.

Pizzeria Lola is getting great reviews from critics and Kim has been working 90 hours a week to keep up with the rush of people coming in for dinner.  

Kim was initially worried that the opening of Parasole’s new Mozza Mia Pizza Pie and Mozzarella at 50th and France at the same time would hurt business. But, she said, that hasn’t been the case.

“I wanted to do a slow opening and just have neighbors come in and all of a sudden it was just like boom, we opened our doors and people came and it was a good surprise, but it was one of those things where I didn’t expect it,” Kim said.

Pizzeria Lola features wood-fire pizzas with thin and crispy crust that is chewy and slightly charred. Kim, who was born in Korea, plans to have some Korean combinations in the near future.

Kim said she likes to experiment with different kinds of topping and flavors, so customers can expect new specials all the time. She also plans to add karaoke one night a week.

“We felt like the pizza landscape was not very exciting here in the Midwest, so we just decided ‘lets go for it,’” she said.

Visit pizzerialola.com for more information.

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CB2 store at Calhoun Square gets approval from city

The Minneapolis Planning Commission on Dec. 13 approved plans from Calhoun Square to construct a CB2 store next to the mall on the northeast corner of Hennepin & 31st.

CB2 is the hip, urban brand of Crate & Barrel. CB2 sells house wares and furniture for more affordable prices than Crate & Barrel.

Following the Commission’s approval, Calhoun Square’s General Manager Ken Seifert said he expects construction will begin when the ground thaws and the building should be complete in mid-November. A vacant two-level brick building on the site will first have to be demolished.

The plan approvals for CB2 didn’t come without hurdles. The CARAG and ECCO neighborhood groups both spoke against the construction plans and two commissioners voted against the CB2 development.

The Planning Commission in 2008 approved Calhoun Square’s plans to build on that site a five-level mixed-use development that would include residential, commercial and underground parking.

The neighborhood groups cited the Uptown Small Area Plan, which was adopted in 2008 and recommends 3- to 5-level buildings in the heart of Uptown. The CB2 store will be one level tall.

Calhoun Square offered a compromise, to build a store that would allow for the construction of a second level for commercial space on top of CB2, should market conditions improve. But the Commission ended up leaving out a condition requiring them to do so.

 “I don’t think it’s ever going to happen and I think it would be a sub-par addition if it ever did happen, and I would rather see the entire building gone and built the way it should be built,” said Planning Commission President David Motzenbecker.

Motzenbecker and neighborhood representatives said a one-level building does not make the best use of land in the middle of Uptown.

Calhoun Square representatives said they’ve tried to attract office and residential partners for a taller building, but have been unsuccessfully due to the economy.

“One point we can all agree on is CB2 is just a great opportunity for Minneapolis, Uptown and Calhoun Square,” said Carol Lansing, an attorney representing Calhoun Square. “But if these applications are denied this great opportunity will be lost.”

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New coffee shop moves into former Caffe Tempo space

Jim and Joanne Heider opened Royal Grounds coffee shop at 4167 Grand Ave. in October, occupying the space formerly used by Caffe Tempo.

The Heiders ran a coffee shop in Oakland, Calif. for nine years before moving back to the Twin Cities — where Jim grew up.

Royal Grounds is the product of much careful planning by the couple.

“With the way the business environment is, I didn’t want to rush into anything, and this happened to come along when it did and we like the location and the neighborhood,” he said. “It’s a bit off the beaten track, but it’s in the middle of a lot of action.”

The shop is open for breakfast and lunch, serving coffee, baked goods, sandwiches and soups. Jim Heider said the shop might eventually open for dinner.

The shop also has a retail section.

“We’re highlighting some of the local arts and crafts people, and letting them bring in a few things,” Heider said.

As to the couple’s approach to running the shop, they’ll do a lot of what they did in California.

“It’s hands-on, really,” he said. “Me and my wife were running it and we didn’t stray too far from it, and we like it and we like to be here, and people appreciate that.”

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New shop in Linden Hills celebrates arts

A new shop in the Linden Hills neighborhood has found a new way to celebrate art and the people that create it.

The Linden Tree is a craft store that sells art. Or an art store that sells craft supplies? The shop sells various types of designer fabrics, but it’s also home to the creations of various artists from around the area as well as hand-made clothing.

According to the shop’s website, the idea for the store came to owner Melissa Pederson when she “dreamed of creating a neighborhood gathering space that would capture the wonders of creating beauty and whims.”

A former psychologist, Pederson has always been interested in “hearing about and encouraging others to pursue their interests.”

Linden Tree does just that for the more than 40 local artists it features.

The store offers fabrics from featured designers such as Michael Miller, Kaffe Fassett and Amy Butler. The store also hosts classes that touch on everything from sergers to an introduction to sewing for children. Mayor R.T. Rybak even stopped in to help sew a headband in December.  

Some of the artists on display at Linden Tree include “Rockin Nanny” and “Pixie Spit.” “Rockin Nanny,” also known as Carol Jarvis, is a former nanny who creates doll clothes out of re-purposed fabric and vintage handkerchiefs. “Pixie Spit” is Lisa Taglia, a part-time teacher who makes quilts that “are strong enough to be snuggled in, drooled on, picnic-ed on, and used to make forts.”

Linden Tree celebrates the artistic process in its entirety, from the base materials to finished products. The store celebrated its grand opening Nov. 27. The store often hosts events like the recent BLING Trunk Show, which focused on local jewelry artists. For people who want to create art or just enjoy it, you can’t go wrong with the Linden Tree, found at the intersection of 44th & Beard.

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Monkey Business moves novelty shop west on Lake Street

After a year of dealing with crime and struggling to attract the clientele she wanted, Lauren Velasco finally said enough is enough and moved her novelty shop from East Lake and 5th Avenue South to Lyn-Lake, 910 W. Lake St.

“We had four murders right outside the building and kind of decided it was time to go,” Velasco said.

Monkey Business opened in August. It sells clothing, body jewelry, smoking pipes, gifts and adult items.

“It’s not a seedy, dirty adult section. It’s basically just fun toys.” Velasco said. “We try to be real informational and lighthearted. Let people kind of learn about it.”

For more on Monkey Business, visit monkeybusinessunderground.com.

— John Grimley contributed to this report.