Biz buzz: Hotel proposed in Stevens Square

Hotel proposed for Stevens Square property

STEVENS SQUARE — A long-vacant Stevens Square property located just blocks away from the Minneapolis Convention Center may become home to a Staybridge Suites extended-stay hotel.

Stevens Square Community Organization (SSCO) Executive Director Steven Gallagher showed conceptual drawings for a multi-story hotel with first-floor retail space to members of the SSCO Board of Directors May 17. The drawings were provided by project developer Norman Leslie, president of National Hospitality Services, who said he owns the Staybridge franchise rights for Minneapolis.

City planners have yet to review the proposal.

The hotel would be built just across Interstate 94 from Downtown on the former Johnson’s Meats site, now vacant, located on Nicollet Avenue between East 18th Street and the highway. The site includes four adjacent parcels on Nicollet Avenue and a vacated alleyway just behind them to the east, measuring about three-quarters of an acre in total, according to county property records.

National Hospitality Services operates both a Ramada Plaza & Suites and Staybridge Suites in Fargo, North Dakota, among other hotels.

“At this point, we’re excited about bringing a hotel to that neighborhood,” Leslie said.

Gallagher said Staybridge was just one of the hotel chains and other businesses he tried to lure to the neighborhood with a 2008 neighborhood marketing study prepared by Maxfield Research. That study found the neighborhood’s Nicollet Avenue business district, with its proximity to Downtown and various cultural amenities, made it “an excellent area to consider higher-density residential and commercial development.”

Said Gallagher: “They were one of the people that bit.”

Still, it took three years of talks to bring the development plans even to this preliminary stage.

“We’re working really hard and it’s coming to a crescendo,” Leslie said. “Two, three years ago it just wasn’t remotely possible given the financing environment and the [low] overall demand for hotels anywhere in the country.”


Coming soon: Veterinary clinic at Franklin & Nicollet

WHITTIER — Maxfield Research’s 2008 market study also identified strong demand for a veterinary clinic in the Stevens Square area, a niche that will hopefully be filled by the mid-June opening of Pet Doctors at 25 East Franklin Ave.

The study determined that Stevens Square residents spend about $4 million annually on pets. But with no veterinary clinics in the immediate area — and with a significant proportion of Stevens Square residents not owing cars — neighborhood pet owners typically walk downtown or Uptown to see a vet.

Steve Gallagher, executive director of the Stevens Square Community Organization (SSCO), said he and other neighborhood leaders initially hoped to locate a veterinary clinic in the old Acadia Café building at the northeast corner of Franklin & Nicollet, but that hope was dashed when it became clear that making the corner building handicapped accessible would be prohibitively expensive.

Ultimately, the property adjacent to CVS Pharmacy on the southeast corner of Franklin & Nicollet proved to be the best fit — but unfortunately, that side of Franklin is actually in Whittier, not Stevens Square.

“It’s disappointing that we couldn’t find a spot within the neighborhood, but we’re still going to take credit for recruiting the business and I know they will be a part of our neighborhood too,” Gallagher said.

Pet Doctors will be run by Dr. Joyce Tesarek, owner of Minnehaha Veterinary Hospital in the Northrop neighborhood since 1983, with Dr. Jerri Smith serving as lead veterinary.

The clinic will offer basic wellness care, grooming supplies and services, pet food, acupuncture and chiropractic procedures, and hospice care. Surgeries and other major procedures will be done at Minnehaha Veterinary Hospital.

While construction won’t be completed until early June, Pet Doctors already does house calls. And for a limited time, Tesarek has elected to waive the $50 travel fee to encourage pet owners to give them a try.

“The goal is for this clinic to be a place people can walk to, with supplies and food at affordable prices. We’ll try and figure out what the neighborhood wants as we go,” Tesarek said.

Pet Doctors is slated to open on June 13.


New Asian noodle restaurant opening soon in Uptown

WEDGE — A new Asian noodle restaurant will soon open at 1300 Lagoon Ave., Suite 150.

Kinsen Noodle Shop and Bar will feature noodle dishes of Thai, Lao and Japanese origin along with a full bar. Co-owner Nuntanit Charoensit said the restaurant should open early next month.

Ownership is currently in the process of hiring staff. Renovation work at 1300 Lagoon — which also houses Bar Abilene — is ongoing.

“We’re going to focus on noodles, and we’ll make them from scratch,” Charoensit said.

Kinsen is owned by the same group that runs Kindee, a Thai restaurant located downtown near the Guthrie Theater.

The new bar and restaurant will be open until midnight. Charoensit said there are currently no plans for outdoor seating.


Adagio Café and Espresso replacing Dragonfly

LYNNHURST — Sometime this summer, Adagio Café ad Espresso will open in Dragonfly Coffee’s old spot at 5001 Penn Ave. S., but when that’ll happen remains an open question.

Adagio is owner Chris Yeager’s first foray into the small business world, and navigating city bureaucracy has proved more difficult and time-consuming than he anticipated.

Yeager initially planned to open Adagio by the end of May, but opening has been pushed back indefinitely. A one-time business partner decided to pursue another opportunity and Yeager still needs to secure a number of city licenses.

In fact, when he was reached for comment, Yeager was at a library researching Minneapolis’ licensing process.

“A lot of the issues seem like small, ridiculous things to me, but the fact is other people circumvent the process,” he said. “I’m a good guy with integrity, but unfortunately that doesn’t go very far.”

Despite his difficulties, Yeager is committed to opening “a really nice coffee shop” — featuring acoustic music, B&W coffee and local foods — sooner than later.

After all, he’s already signed a two-year lease.


Unusual Expressions Tattoo finds a new home on Hennepin

WEDGE — After years of hearing about prospective patrons roaming down Hennepin Avenue South in a futile attempt to find his tattoo and piercing parlor, Steve Willett is moving his business to where folks have expected him to be all along.

Unusual Expressions Tattoo and Piercing is now at 2325 Hennepin Ave. S. in the Wedge after more than a half-decade at 2408 E. Hennepin Ave.

“People would use Google Maps to find our location, but they would leave out the ‘East’,” said Willett, the president of Unusual Expressions. “So they would end up wandering around Uptown trying to find us because that’s where Google Maps sent them.”

Willett has been working as a tattoo artist since the late 1970s. He describes himself as a “broad-based” artist with a particular knack for portraits, re-works of old tattoos and permanent make-up.

He’ll be joined at the new location by four other tattoo artists and a full-time piercer. A couple of the tattoo artists are relatively new to the craft, while the other two “are higher end artists that are almost as good as I am,” Willett said.

Willett said he’s had his eye on the 2325 Hennepin spot for a long time, but it took nearly two years to hammer out a lease agreement with the property owner.

“It’s been a battle, but personally I think we’ve got the best location in town,” he said, adding that he anticipates much more walk-in business at the new spot than Unusual Expressions was used to during the East Hennepin days.

Unusual Expressions is currently open daily from 10 a.m.–10 p.m. For more information, check out the parlor’s website at


Uptown Market kicks off third summer

WEDGE — The Uptown Market will kick off its third season on June 12.

Every Sunday through Sept. 25, the market will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. along West 29th Street between Lyndale Avenue South and Dupont Avenue South.

Like other farmers’ markets around the metro, the Uptown Market features locally grown produce. But organizers strive to make the Uptown version more “street fair” than traditional farmers’ market by incorporating food vendors, local art and music into the festivities.

“What we try and do is create a new street fair mold,” said Shaun Laden, volunteer market manager. “We try and add different dimensions, make it more eclectic.”

For more information, check out the Uptown Market’s website at

— Dylan Thomas contributed to this report. For more biz buzz, go to