Biz buzz

Once Upon a Crime receives prestigious national award

THE WEDGE — This April, Once Upon a Crime Mystery Bookstore, 604 W. 26th St. in Whittier, will be honored with arguably the most prestigious honor available to bookstores of its ilk.

The Mystery Writers of America (MWA) announced the store, along with Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore in Chicago, is a 2011 recipient of the Raven Award.

Established in 1953, the award recognizes outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing. Notable former recipients include former President Bill Clinton (apparently a huge fan of crime novels), Alfred Hitchcock and the National Library of Congress.

Gary Schulze, co-owner of Once Upon a Crime since 2002 along with his wife Pat Frovarp (they were married at the bookstore in 2007), said he was extremely surprised and honored to receive the award, which will be presented to the couple April 28 at an award banquet in New York City.

“We didn’t apply for it, didn’t lobby — we didn’t even know it was available to us,” he said.

In a press release, MWA lauded Once Upon a Crime for frequently hosting signings for local and traveling authors and for the store’s annual Write of Spring event. The release also praised the store’s eclectic collection.

Reach Once Upon a Crime at 870-3785.


Bull Run Coffee moving into CRC space

CARAG — Bull Run Roasting Co. opens its first stand-alone coffee shop in April at 3346 Lyndale Ave. S.

Bull Run Coffee is an opportunity for a company known as a roaster and wholesaler to offer its premium coffees and teas in a café setting.

“We’re going to be offering both traditional-style coffees and slow-brew, handmade coffees,” said Brent Ringate, co-owner of Bull Run Roasting, adding that the coffee shop also would offer pastries, sandwiches and other light food items. “We want to reach out to our wholesale customer base.”

Bull Run Coffee will move into the former Cars-R-Coffins coffee shop space. After five years in business, the coffee shop component of CRC will close its doors for the final time on March 25.

“There’s many factors behind this decision, but more than anything, years of 80-plus hour workweeks have been a drain of sorts, and that’s the main impetus,” said Tom Everson, owner of CRC.

Everson maintained the CRC brand was alive and well. He said he planned to invest more of his time in CRC’s website and bike maintenance services after the coffee shop closed.

Bull Run’s emphasis on premium, slow-brewed coffees meant that almost all of CRC’s equipment would have to be replaced, but Ringate said he planned an April 1 opening.

He added the shop would feature local art, and that ownership was exploring the possibility of hosting small concerts at the space.


New women’s boutique comes to Uptown

THE WEDGE — Excelsior-based designer Cynthia Rae is taking her “fun, funky and affordable” brand of fashion to Uptown.

Just in time for spring, Rae opened her second women’s boutique (the other is in Excelsior) at 2817 Hennepin Ave. S.

Asked how her Uptown inventory would differ from the Excelsior location, Rae said, “It’ll be a little more adventurous, featuring more experimental fashion.”

Rae’s boutiques stock on-trend designs, supplemented by some of her own creations.

“Everything we do is very affordable so that everyone can look very fashionable without breaking the bank,” she said.

Queried about what’s hot this spring, Rae cited loose-fitting tops and mixed prints — for instance, she said that it’s perfectly acceptable, and perhaps even fashionable, to wear a striped top with a polka-dotted skirt here in 2011.

And after months of dirty snow banks, March and April are all about color, color, color.

“We’ve had such a long winter, so everyone is tired of gray and black,” Rae said. “Color is huge.”

A Twin Cities native, Rae loved creating clothes for her Barbie dolls as a youngster. She eventually expanded her interest in making and designing clothes to include full-size humans and opened her Excelsior boutique about a decade ago.

A grand opening celebration will take place sometime this spring.

For more information about Cynthia Rae’s Uptown boutique, call the store at 401-4484.


River Chocolate finds a home in Linden Hills

LINDEN HILLS — After years of a nomadic existence, River Chocolate now has a home at 2822 W. 43rd St.

“I really like personal contacts with people and the instant gratification of dealing with a customer,” said owner Deidre Davis, whose chocolates gained brand recognition at local farmers’ markets. “In my heart of hearts I always wanted to have a retail spot.”

Davis lives in River Falls, Wis., but said she and her husband “fell in love with [Linden Hills] a long time ago, so when this little building became available, I grabbed it.”

Davis’ renowned chocolates — including truffles, sauces and tortes, among others — are made by hand in her River Falls kitchen, but River Chocolate is about more than sweets. The store offers a variety of other locally produced foods, including pastas, teas, salad dressings and much more.

“We are working toward being a place where people can get all sorts of wonderful local foodstuffs,” Davis said.

A grand opening celebration will take place sometime in May.

For more information, call the store at 926-8466.


Clothes Mentor opens in Calhoun Village

CIDNA — Minneapolis’ first Clothes Mentor franchise opened in March at 3252 W. Lake. St.

Clothes Mentor pays cash for “gently used” women’s clothing and accessories then resells its inventory at deep discounts.

“We want merchandise that is still stylish,” said Steve Bonello, owner of the Clothes Mentor franchises in Edina and Calhoun Village. “Our stuff is still in fashion. You’re either still seeing it in stores, or certainly people are still wearing it.”

The store will be buying merchandise until about the end of April. Once an inventory has been built-up, there will be a grand opening commemorating the beginning of sales, although the store will continue to buy merchandise as well.

For example, Bonello said, if a particular style of jacket sold at Gap for $90, Clothes Mentor would sell it for about $30 and purchase it for about $10.

“The nice thing (for sellers) is that it’s cash right on the spot,” he said.

For more information, check out Clothes Mentor’s website at


Stone Brewing debuts in Minnesota

A nationally renowned brewery will soon be entering the crowded Twin Cities beer market.

Escondido, Calif., based Stone Brewing Co. planned a number of beer tastings around the metro March 29–April 2 to celebrate the beginning of distribution in Minnesota.

Stone Brewing is perhaps best known for its Arrogant Bastard Ale, currently distributed in 35 states (Minnesota will be 36). The beer’s label is indicative of the company’s broader ethos, admonishing prospective drinkers: “You’re Not Worthy”.

In a review of the ale (which he gave an A+), BeerAdvocate co-founder Todd Alström described Arrogant as having malt sweetness with caramel, chocolate and roasted coffee flavors.

“It’s rather aggressive, but oh so … good,” Alström wrote.

If you’d like to sample Arrogant Bastard Ale or other Stone Brewing offerings, South Lyndale Liquors, located at 5300 Lyndale Ave. S. in Lynnhurst, is hosting a public beer tasting with Stone Brewing CEO and co-founder Greg Koch on March 31 from 5:30–6:30 p.m.

Information about other Stone Week Minnesota events can be found at

Koch lives in California, but said he is a fan of many of the Twin Cities craft brews, citing Surly and Town Hall’s beers as local offerings for which he has a great deal of respect.

Said Koch: “I’m an enthusiast about what they do, and the great thing about craft brewing is that brewers have their own particular styles and express themselves in different ways that set them apart.”


Shroud of mystery surrounds Tilia opening

LINDEN HILLS — Following months of rumors, Tilia was set to open March 19 at 2726 W. 43rd St.

Co-owners Steven Brown and Jorg Pierach were extremely coy regarding what would be on Tilia’s menu once the restaurant opened. Items like butternut squash puree with sage and pork tenderloin served atop caramelized brussels sprouts were served during a Tilia’s preview event earlier this month, but Pierach said both the staff and menu were tweaked in the days following the soft opening.

A press release revealing more details about the restaurant was being prepared as this edition of the Southwest Journal went to press. Pierach declined to divulge further details about the restaurant until the release became available.

Biz buzz

Uptown Bar not relocating to Lyndale Theater after all

Long-rumored plans for the relocation of the legendary Uptown Bar to the Lyndale Theater are dead, according to a recent Finance & Commerce report.

An Apple Store now stands in the spot of the Uptown Bar’s old location at 3018 Hennepin Ave. in ECCO. Shortly after the bar was razed in November 2009, rumors began swirling that the Uptown was relocating to 2934 Lyndale Ave. S. in Lyn-Lake. That winter, the Lyndale Theater’s marquee was conspicuously changed to “Not For Lease,” further fueling speculation about the Uptown Bar’s resurrection.

That marquee once again reads “For Lease,” indicating that, for the foreseeable future at least, the Uptown Bar will not be rising from the dead.

Jeffery Herman, president of West Calhoun-based retail brokerage Urban Anthology, used to represent the Uptown Bar. He deferred all questions about the bar to former general manager Dennis Willey, who could not be reached for comment.

A secretary for Gregg Scott, owner of the Lyndale Theater, said that Scott did not want to comment about any future plans for the theater space, which has been empty for several years.


Cafeteria wants to host DJs, dancing

The Uptown Cafeteria and Support Group, located in Calhoun Square at 3001 Hennepin Ave., is applying for a liquor license change that would allow for DJs and dancing.

Alan Ackerberg, chief development officer for Parasole Restaurant Holdings, which owns Cafeteria, said that the idea is to clear tables and chairs from a small room on the eastside of the restaurant on some Friday and Saturday nights so that DJs can spin records.

“What’s happened is that [Cafeteria’s request] has become a lightning rod for some of the neighbors’ concerns about livability-type issues in the neighborhood, but we just want to provide a neighborhood sock hop on Friday and Saturday night,” Ackerberg said.

City Council Member Meg Tuthill (10th Ward) said that she and many of her constituents are concerned about the possibility that the liquor license change will result in more noise and booze-fueled crime in the Calhoun Square area.

Though she praised Parasole for being an accountable and communicative company, Tuthill said “we have a noise issue Uptown that goes late into the night. We need to be looking at a balance, and adding more noise into the streets doesn’t help us achieve the goal of balance for both business and residents.”

She added that while she was door-knocking in Uptown during her City Council campaign in 2009, noise emerged as the top concern for Uptown residents, even above rising property taxes.

Parasole’s request will go before the City Council’s Regulatory Energy and Environment Committee, which will make a recommendation regarding the liquor license change to the full City Council.


20.21 out, D’Amicos in at Walker

This April, Richard D’Amico’s popular local restaurant group will replace Walker Art Center’s Wolfgang Puck-run eatery.

Puck’s 20.21 has served as the Walker’s house restaurant since the museum underwent a $135.6 million renovation in 2005. But after six years, the contract with Puck is up, and the museum is looking for a change.

The new restaurant will be called Gather and will specialize in American cuisine.  It will be a lunch-only spot — the Walker has a long tradition of restaurants that do not offer dinner — reserving evenings for catered events. One exception will be Thursday nights, when the museum stays open until 9 p.m. as part of its Target-sponsored Free Thursday Nights. On these nights, Gather will offer a dinner menu designed by a rotating cast of guest chefs.

Restaurateurs Richard and Larry D’Amico already operate in high art venues around the Twin Cities, with restaurants in the art-focused Chambers hotel and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

According to the Walker, the change-over will take effect on April 18.


Brazilian Restaurant coming to Lyn-Lake area

Just days after The Favor Café closed its doors, property owner Tom Horner — no relation to the Tom Horner who ran for governor — confirmed that he recently finalized a lease agreement with new tenants for his commercial property at 913 W. Lake St. in CARAG.

The property will soon become home to Brasa Viva Brazil. Co-owner Olmedo Albarando said that the new restaurant aims to fill a niche for affordable Brazilian cuisine in the Twin Cities.

Albarando was born and raised in Ecuador, though much of his family is Brazilian. He moved to New York City and fell in love with the city’s Brazilian restaurants. Shortly after moving to Minneapolis, he recognized a relative dearth of Brazilian dining spots in the Twin Cities and began planning his own restaurant.

“When I came here, I said, ‘We gotta do something Brazilian casual-style in the Twin Cities,’” Albarando said.

Though the menu is still being finalized and a head chef has yet to be hired, Albarando said Brasa Viva Brazil will offer dishes like grilled chicken and ribs prepared Brazilian-style. Peanut powders, lemongrass and Brazilian spices give these American-sounding dishes a uniquely tangy flavor.

Plates will cost $8–$10. Brasa Viva Brazil will eventually serve alcohol, though Albarando said the liquor license may not be in place in time for the restaurant’s opening.

The 913 W. Lake St. property has experienced a lot of turnover in recent years. It was home to the short-lived Restaurant Miami in 2007. The Favor Café managed to stay open a bit longer but went out of business earlier this month.

“I don’t think the property is jinxed. When [Favor] moved out, I was somewhat dismayed, though it wasn’t unexpected because they weren’t doing much at all,” Horner said.

Albarando and co-owner Carlos Zhagui have already begun renovating the property, and are planning for a late March or early April opening.


Puff n’ Stuff Gifts and Novelties opening in old Double Danger property

Double Danger Comics is morphing into a one-stop shop for all of your retro, weird and unusual gift needs.

With an opening tentatively slated for the beginning of May, the property at 818 W. Lake. St. in Lowry Hill East is set to become the home of Puff n’ Stuff Gifts and Novelty.

Double Danger co-owners Sage and Annie Spirtos will also own and operate Puff n’ Stuff, which will offer stuffed animals, children’s books, novelty lamps, do-it-yourself kids, tiki mugs and other miscellania to Lyn-Lake shoppers.

Though Sage and Annie are both comic book aficionados, the $1,000 to $2,500 per-week cost of stocking periodicals and comics, combined with the disinvestment of Double Danger’s third co-owner and harsh shopping-deterring January weather, forced the couple to close their beloved comic book store less than a year after it opened.

But Sage said that gifts and collectibles were some of the best-selling items at Double Danger, and after a couple weeks of soul searching the Spirtos hatched the idea of keeping their lease at 818 and opening Puff n’ Stuff.

“We noticed that there is demand for a gifts and collectibles store,” Sage said.

For more information about the new store, check out Puff n’ Stuff’s website at


Verizon store opens in Fulton

A Verizon Wireless store is now open at 3724 50th St. W. in Fulton.

Store owner Enes Arslan said most Verizon stores are corporately-owned, making his 50th and Ewing locally-owned location the exception to the norm.

“Local ownership is rare these days, and I thought Verizon would be a perfect fit for the neighborhood,” he said.

Plans for a grand opening celebration sometime this spring are currently being finalized, Arslan said.

To contact the store, call 920-9999.

Reach Aaron Rupar at Gregory J. Scott contributed to this report.