Biz buzz

New businesses slated for 26th & Nicollet redevelopment

Redevelopment of the northwest commercial corner at 26th & Nicollet is about to get underway in earnest.

Mark Krogh, leasing agent for Java Properties, confirmed that the owners of Northeast Social and Dunn Bros have recently finalized lease agreements and are slated to open businesses this summer in the properties that used to house Azia Restaurant and Bar and Morelos Mex-Grill. Fittingly, Northeast Social’s new location will be called Eat Street Social.

Vertical Endeavors, a St. Paul-based operator of large, indoor rock-climbing facilities, is still planning to open this summer in the renovated Cedar Lake Ice & Fuel Co. building. To create parking and visibility for the business, the old Hiep Thanh Oriental Grocery building along Nicollet Ave. was demolished early this month.

Krogh said that he has completed letters of intent with two other restaurant tenants interested in moving into the old Ice & Fuel building, though he declined to name names until agreements are finalized, which should happen within a week or two.

Last fall and winter, a number of sources reported that St. Paul’s popular Blue Door Pub was close to finalizing an agreement for a restaurant at 26th & Nicollet, but whether Blue Door is one of the two tenants Krogh referred to could not be immediately confirmed.

Sam Bonin, co-owner of Northeast Social, confirmed that he and partner Joe Wagner will try to replicate the magic of their Northeast location in Southwest.

Eat Street Social “will be the same concept [as Northeast Social], but it’ll be about three times the size, so we’ll have more freedom to have parties and things of that nature,” Bonin said.

As is the case with Northeast Social, Eat Street Social will be an American-style bistro with a full bar emphasizing a farm-to-fork mentality. Patrons will be able to enjoy dining-appropriate live music featuring instruments like accordion, acoustic guitar and piano.

Plans are in place to install a large patio adjacent to the restaurant, Bonin said, adding that he hopes Eat Street Social will be “an anchor of the new development.”

Josh Dexter, owner of the Dunn Bros at 1915 Lyndale Ave. S., 329 W. 15th St. and a skyway location, said he will move his Lyndale location to 26th & Nicollet in early July.

“We’ve just never been able to do business here,” Dexter said of the Lyndale location, citing the inaccessibility of the business to southbound taffic on Lyndale as a primary reason the coffee shop has struggled while other tenants in the building like Quiznos and Fantastic Sams have closed their doors.

Dexter said the owner of the Spyhouse Coffee at 24th & Nicollet isn’t thrilled he’s moving Dunn Bros a block and a half down the street, but added that he thinks there is room in the neighborhood for both coffee shops.

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Muddy Pig owners opening bar/restaurant in Fulton

This summer, the owners of one of St. Paul’s most popular bars are coming across the river and opening their second tap beer haven in Fulton.

Mark van Wie and Paul Schatz, owners of the Muddy Pig, plan to open Pig & Fiddle late this summer in the old Peason’s building off 50th & Ewing, next to the 50th Street Café.

Though he now spends most of his time on the east side of the river, van Wie actually lived in Fulton for a spell.

“It’s still a great neighborhood — there’s a reason I lived there,” he joked. “Though it’s developed and changed a lot, it still has the same feel.”

Like the Muddy Pig, Pig & Fiddle will feature a robust selection of tap beers — 36 to be exact. But the restaurant will attempt to differentiate itself from its St. Paul sister with its food concept, which will emphasize home-style European dishes.

“What would your grandmother be making if you lived in France or England? Perhaps biscuits or cassoulet. I really don’t care about nationality, but I like to have a story behind each dish and have fun with it,” van Wie said.

And though he’s excited about the opportunity to again spend time in Fulton at his new joint, van Wie acknowledged that running restaurants on both sides of the river will present challenges.

“I’m going to need a little more time — that or an unpaid intern,” he quipped.

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First Djib restaurant in Minneapolis opens in Lyndale

Moussa Doualeh recently opened Goda, the first and only Djib restaurant in Minnesota, at the intersection of 34th & Nicollet in the Lyndale neighborhood.

Djibouti is a tiny coastal country on the Gulf of Aden in Northeast Africa. Wedged between Ethiopia and Somalia, Doualeh described Djibouti as a “little oasis for those countries — particularly when they have problems.”

Since coming to the U.S. from Somali in 1991, Doualeh has bounced from kitchen to kitchen across the Twin Cities, working for a time as kitchen manager at Champps. Goda is the fruit of 20 years worth of labor and diligent saving.

Djib cuisine will taste somewhat familiar to those familiar with Ethiopian food. Staples include goat dishes and kk, and most all the Afro-Djib dishes are served with robust portions of vegetables.

But Goda, which is located in the old Joy’s Kitchen building, offers more than Afro-Djib cuisine. Those looking for more familiar items can order a quarter-pound cheeseburger for $4.20, tilapia for $8.99 or a grilled cheese sandwich for $2.99. Doualeh said he’ll soon introduce breakfast and lunch menus.

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Corner Table, Mozza Mia expand hours

With spring here and Minnesotans emerging from an usually long winter hibernation, two area restaurants are expanding their hours of operation.

Following a four-year hiatus, Corner Table, 4257 Nicollet Ave. S. in Kingfield, is again open for Sunday breakfast. Opening at 8 a.m., Corner Table’s Sunday breakfast menu features seasonal foods and classic breakfast staple like French toast and scrambled eggs.

Parasole’s Mozza Mia at 50th & France is now open daily at 11 a.m. for lunch. The lunch menu features lighter options like salads and sandwiches, with dinner service beginning daily at 4 p.m.

And in a true sign that spring is upon us, employees at Mozza Mia announced that baring one of old man winter’s last-ditch blasts, the restaurant’s sidewalk café should be open for both lunch and dinner by the time you read this.

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Heartfelt picks up where Wonderment left off

Heartfelt, a new craft and locally made goods store for all ages, is set to open at 4306 Upton Ave. S. in Linden Hills by the end of the month.

The new store is owned by Lisa MacMartin, who was one of three co-owners of Wonderment, a children’s craft store located in the same building that closed its doors at the end of February.

Heartfelt will carry many of the handmade wooden toys and artisan items that people came to know and love at Wonderment, but will also feature products designed for adults.

“We’re not just going to be a children’s store,” MacMartin said, adding that Heartfelt will begin hosting craft classes next month.

MacMartin utilized a unique “community of lenders” model to secure financing for the new store. She spent much of the late winter working the phones, calling friends, family and acquaintances in hopes of lining up lenders.

“It’s really hard to ask people for money, but the fact I was able to do it was how I knew I was meant to [open this store],” MacMartin said.

Ultimately, 13 private lenders agreed to help get Heartfelt off the ground.

“It’s one of those opportunities that as a pure investment doesn’t really make sense, but once people saw that I had my heart into it, they thought, ‘you know, I really want a store like that in our community,’” MacMartin said. “That’s why I think the name is fitting.”

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Bread & Pickle coming soon

Kim Bartmann said that her Bread & Pickle eatery should be open at the Lake Harriet Bandshell sometime before the end of April.

Bread & Pickle will serve a variety of sandwiches, salads, frozen treats and snacks (popcorn and ice cream will stay on the menu) made from locally sourced ingredients.

The eatery will open at 7 a.m. to serve breakfast and caffeinate those of you who can’t manage an early morning walk without a cup of Joe for company.

“We’re just really excited about getting it fired up and running at 7, because so many people are out on that lake early in the morning,” Bartmann said, adding that a friend of hers will offer free yoga classes around the same time Bread & Pickle opens some mornings.

Reach Aaron Rupar at arupar@mnpubs.com. Follow Southwest Journal news on Twitter @SWJournal.

Biz buzz

Uptown company reaches the big leagues

A Southwest company has reached the big leagues, literally.

East Isles-based Sports Resource Group recently finalized a contract with the National Hockey League allowing NHL teams to install SRG’s Fusion Safety Pads at their home ice rinks.

Many NHL rinks have minimally padded stanchions where the safety glass ends and the players’ benches begin.

Three years ago, SRG President and East Isles resident Chris Guertin watched as Jack Johnson of the Los Angeles Kings smashed the Colorado Avalanche’s Ryan Smyth into one of those stanchions. The force of the blow resulted in Smyth being immobilized and hauled off the ice on a stretcher.

“The hit got me thinking about [developing the pads], and it was in the back of my mind since then,” Guertin said.

After Guertin finished developing some of SRG’s other products — including snap-together rink barriers, ice rink covers and various types of sports netting — he turned his attention to the Fusion Pads.

The process of receiving NHL approval began last summer when the Fusion Pads debuted at the league’s Research and Development Camp in Toronto. Following months of testing demonstrating that the thick, rectangular pads reduce the risk of being concussed by a stanchion to almost nil, the NHL officially approved Guertin’s brainchild in February, with contract language hammered out in March.

Installation of the Fusion Pads is at the discretion of each NHL franchise. The Montreal Canadians have already placed an order, and Guertin said that about a half-dozen other teams have expressed interest so far.

The Fusion Pads, which are already in use at a handful of community rinks throughout the country, cost about $580 for a full set.

Guertin said that interest in the Fridley-produced Fusion Pads spiked in the wake of NHL approval, with SRG receiving 30 orders during a single day in mid-March.

And while he’s thrilled with all the attention, Guertin said that his motivation for creating Fusion Pads wasn’t just about making money.

“In general, we’re just trying to make the sport safer,” he said.

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Urban Tri opens at 50th & Bryant

A store catering to Twin Cities tri-athletes is now open at 820 W. 50th St. in Lynnhurst.

Todd Olson, owner of Urban Tri, said he wants his store to be a “full-service, one-stop shop” for those who believe they aren’t getting a satisfactory workout unless they can dry off from a vigorous swim by running and biking.   

In addition to selling racing bikes, swim gear and running apparel, plans are in the works for the store to offer a variety of services, including nutritional consultations, endurance training and off-season stationary rides.

Olson, an avid tri-athlete himself, said he was drawn to the 50th & Bryant location because the surrounding neighborhood is “young and there are a lot of active people, and we’re quite close to Minnehaha Parkway and the lakes.”

He said the Twin Cities has the 13th largest triathlon community in the country, an impressive ranking given that the season here is only about three months long.

A grand opening celebration, featuring raffles, product demos and giveaways, is scheduled for April 15–17.

Urban Tri can be reached at 227-4903.

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New coffee café comes to Franklin and Nicollet

A new coffee cafe is set to open at the corner that once housed Oliver’s, Acadia and, most recently, Tillie’s Bean.

Sometime in early April (a specific date has not yet been pinned down), Jeremy Konecny, a lifelong coffee enthusiast whose family ran Heartland Coffee and Equipment while he was growing up, will open The Nicollet at 1931 Nicollet Ave. S. in Stevens Square.

Konecny characterized his vision for The Nicollet as a “high-brow version of what the Acadia used to be.”

“We want some music back at that corner, but with a gentler sound — jazz, bluegrass and blues,” he said.

In addition to premium coffees, The Nicollet will offer small plates of organic and natural foods. Konecny said he may expand the menu to include larger, dinner-sized portions in the future.

He’s also working on securing a beer and wine license, which he should have in place before Memorial Day. The plan is to serve craft beers and international wines.

And once spring finally takes hold, outdoor seating will be available along Nicollet.

Konecny, 36, has been an entrepreneur throughout his adult life, but he said running a coffee café featuring live music has been a life-long dream.

“I was running a corporate business and I knew I wanted out. I wanted to serve coffee and wear flip-flops, and I think I’ve earned my opportunity to run a great coffee shop,” he said.

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Expanded Hwa Rang Do now offering kickboxing, yoga

The Hwa Rang Do Martial Arts Academy, 5417 Nicollet Ave. S. in Tangletown, expanded its space after eight years in its current location.

The 5,000-square-foot expansion started in December, and the new space opened at the beginning of 2011. The academy now has about 8,000 square feet in total.

“We were filled up with what we could do with the current facilities,” said owner and chief instructor Dylan Sirny of the pre-expansion space.

The academy teaches many forms of fighting, such as kicking and punching; self-defense; grappling and wrestling; and weapons fighting. The expansion allowed Sirny to add kickboxing and yoga classes and hire three people full time.

Sirny said the kickboxing and yoga classes were a request of parents and others in the community. Many of the classes are offered during martial arts training sessions so parents can work out while they wait.

The academy’s expansion allows it to continue community engagement and expand student development. This includes paying attention to students’ lives outside the academy and offering free self-defense classes.

“We focus on seeing martial arts as a vehicle for personal development,”
Sirny said.

For more information on Hwa Rang Do Martial Arts Academy, go to its website: hwarangdominneapolis.com.

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Uniquely Yours opens storefront in Linden Hills

After nearly two decades in Linden Hills, Gregory Brassil’s Uniquely Yours jewelry store finally has a storefront.

The store’s 4305 Upton Ave. S. retail location opened early last month, with a grand opening scheduled for April 7.

If wine, hors d’oeuvres and music aren’t enough to get you to the grand opening (scheduled from roughly 6–9 p.m.), perhaps this will — following a one-time drawing, someone will walk home with a $2,000, custom-designed piece of jewelry.

As it has for 17 years, Uniquely Yours features custom jewelry handcrafted with semiprecious and precious stones, using platinum and other metals. The store also offers watch repair, cleaning, polishing and appraisals, just in a more visible setting than it did from its former perch above Biebelot Shops.

Thirty years later, Brassil described his decision to pursue a career as a jeweler as the working of fate.

“The idea struck me totally out of the blue, but it ended up fitting me perfectly. I was talking to a friend who was a jeweler at a meditation conference in New York, the idea got in my head, and I pursued it,” he said.

Uniquely Yours can be reached at 746-0508.

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Schmaty and Tim+Thom combine forces, open You and Me

You and Me, a hybrid custom jewelry/clothing alteration store, is now open at 2114B Lyndale Ave. S. in Lowry Hill East.

The store represents the merger of Katy Schmaty Jewelry and Tim+Thom Alterations and Clothing Design, both of which used to have their own storefronts.

Schmaty and Tim and Thom Navarro (who are brothers) “worked on a couple of [fashion] shows together, and from there it just happened in a flash,” Tim Navarro said.

With their leases expiring within a month of each other, Schmaty and the Navarro brothers began to look for a spot where they could combine operations, and were thrilled to be able to set up shop on a bustling stretch of Lyndale.

“Uptown was a goal, but we didn’t really think we’d make it happen because it’s a pretty expensive neighborhood. We just happened across this place,” Navarro said.

In addition to handcrafted, custom jewelry and the Navarro’s clothing designs, You and Me also offers antique furniture and gifts.

With Schmaty and the Navarros busy prepared for the April 15 Voltage fashion show, the store’s grand opening celebration is tentatively slated for sometime late this month.

You and Me can be reached at 823-8200.

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Sweets Bakeshop celebrates Minneapolis opening

Sweets Bakeshop will be celebrating the grand opening of its Tangletown location at 4747 Nicollet Ave. S. on April 9.

The celebration will include free chair messages from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., a coffee seminar and tasting from 1–2 p.m., live music from a classical ensemble from 2–6 p.m. and prizes throughout.

The bakeshop, which has been open since February, offers daily cupcakes, French macarons, brownies, blondies and other items, all fresh baked in the store’s kitchen, housed in the rear of the 4747 Nicollet building.

Unlike Sweets’s St. Paul location, the Minneapolis shop has seating and offers hot drinks, including premium coffees.

Sweets Bakeshop can be reached at 208-0672.

Andre Eggert contributed to this report.