Biz buzz: Muddy Waters, Viva Brasil, Roam Interiors

Expanded Muddy Waters now open near Lyn-Lake

WHITTIER — On the day of the new Muddy Waters’ soft opening, co-owner Sarah Schrantz and her colleagues were blurs of activity.

The bar was still being stocked. Kitchen staff scrambled around to get their cooking stations ready. At the last minute, city staff informed Schrantz and fellow co-owner Danielle De Pietto that a necessary permit was still pending. Schrantz said she was hopeful but unsure whether the issue could be resolved before that evening’s scheduled test run.

“It’s crazy around here — hence the tear tracks and dirt on my face,” Schrantz said, pointing out that the new Muddys has over five times as many employees as the old 24th & Lyndale spot, which is a lot to handle for two people new to the restaurant industry.

A week later, the new Muddy Waters (2933 Lyndale Ave. S.) was up and running and open to the public. Of course, some kinks still remained — after taking an order from a patron, a bartender was slightly dismayed to learn that the bar wasn’t stocked with Bacardi 151 — but it was amazing to see what a difference a few days can make.

If you were to walk in the new Muddys and restrict your glance to the left-hand side of the space, you might not think much has changed from the 24th & Lyndale days. Over there, baristas man a familiar-looking coffee bar with coffee shop-style seating fit for spreading out and studying.

All it takes, however, is one glance to the right to see how much Muddys has grown. Along that side of the building extends a full liquor bar with 30 taps, including many quality craft beers. On the other side of the wall behind the bar sits a quaint, shady alley patio that is an ideal place to enjoy a bit to eat and a drink.

Speaking of bites to eat, Muddy Waters now features a full kitchen. Schrantz said the Rock Shrimp Po’ Boy (apple, cabbage and sweet sriracha aioli) is her favorite, but there should be something for everyone on the menu, which features everything from pot roast and pizza to wings and steamed mussels.

Happy hour (weekdays 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.) features $7 food items and beers for as little as $2.

With the windows along Lyndale completely open and a large sunroof in the middle of the space, natural light infuses itself into Muddy’s new space. Don’t be mistaken — despite the name and the rock soundtrack, the new Muddy Waters is far from a dirty dive bar.

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Despite snags, Viva Brasil shooting for 
late June opening

CARAG —Viva Brasil is set to open at 913 W. Lake St. before the end of June.

The specific date, however, has become a bit of a moving target. Co-owner Olmedo Albarando said last minute code compliance issues have repeatedly arisen, pushing Viva’s opening further and further into the future.

The new restaurant’s colorful interior, complete with a wall-size painting of Rio de Janeiro’s famous Christ the Redeemer statue, is pretty much ready to go.

The kitchen features one of the largest, meanest-looking grills in the state.

“I’ve never seen anything this size, not in Minnesota at least,” said chef Eric Austin.

But as is the case with many new restaurateurs, it’s the little things that have become problematic.

“The inspections, they come at the last minute, and they want us to change things like the back door — little things,” Albarando said, adding that a bulky water heater has also become an issue.

Albrarando and co-owner Carlos Zhagui are also still in the process of securing a liquor license, though they expect it to be granted well in time for a late June opening.

In addition to tap and bottled beer, Viva will offer Brazilian-themed cocktails featuring ingredients like passion fruit, mango and pineapple.

Initially, Albarando and Zhagui planned to open their restaurant in the spring without booze, then incorporate liquor during the summer. But chef Austin persuaded them to hold off on opening until a liquor license is in place.

“Uptown, man, it’s short attention span theater,” Austin said. “I’ve been to too many places where it’s ‘coming soon, coming soon, coming soon,’ but people lose interest pretty quick.”

Austin, who has worked in kitchens for more than a quarter-century and is perhaps best known around town as the former face of Big E’s Soul Food, crafted a menu featuring a spectrum of surf-and-turf dishes hard to find in the upper Midwest.

Highlights include citrus tamarind glazed pacu ribs (pacu is a common name used to refer to several species of South American freshwater fish related to the piranha), seafood stew, churrasco misto and Brazilian-style chicken and ribs. Entrees are in the $15 range, with many appetizers priced under $10.

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Roam Interiors 
moving into old Booksmart building

EAST ISLES — Roam Interiors will be the new tenant in the old Booksmart building at 2914 Hennepin Ave. S.

Roam is a design-driven home store offering mid-priced to upscale furnishings and accessories. Featured brands include Magis, Alessi and Minneapolis-based Blu Dot.

The store is relocating from 813 Glenwood Ave. in Near North. Extensive renovations to the interior of 2914 Hennepin will begin soon, though Roam owner John Stedman said “very little” exterior work is planned.

Roam’s upcoming move to Uptown means that by the end of the year, the shopping district around Lake & Hennepin will emerge as a major node for home furnishing shoppers.

Roam is slated for a late summer opening, Design Within Reach is already established at 2939 Hennepin and CB2 is set to open at the corner of 31st & Hennepin this holiday season.

While it might be thought all that competition would be a deterrent, Stedman said the presence of Design Within Reach and CB2 is actually part of Uptown’s appeal.

“I think concentration is good because it brings a lot of people into the area. We aren’t going to run away and hide,” he said.

For more info about Roam Interiors, check out the company’s website at roaminteriors.com.

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Parasole chef leading local students toward White House kitchen

Parasole head corporate chef Todd Bolton may soon have the opportunity to make lunch for the first lady in the White House’s kitchen.

Bolton, collaborating with a group of students from the South Education Center Alternative Program (SECA) in Richfield, has advanced to the finals of Michele Obama’s “Recipes for Healthy Kids Challenge” on the strength of his Porcupine Sliders.

Bolton’s son is a student at SECA. Last fall, a school secretary called him to ask if he’d serve as the “food service professional” on SECA’s team.

Over the course of a few sessions last fall and winter, Bolton and his students came up with a recipe for Porcupine Sliders: mini turkey burgers made with spinach, dried cranberries and brown rice served on toasted multigrain rolls with lettuce and tomato.

Next month, Bolton and his team will travel to Dallas to compete against the two remaining competitors as part of an event at the American Culinary Federation National Convention. If they win, they’ll travel to the White House and make some sliders for Mrs. Obama.

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Kinsen noodle restaurant and bar opens in Uptown

THE WEDGE — A new scratch-made Asian noodle restaurant is now open at 1300 Lagoon Avenue, Suite 150.

Kinsen features broth noodle dishes (like pho), cold noodle dishes (including BBQ pork), stir fried noodle dishes (like pad Thai), rice bowls and a variety of appetizers. Noodle dishes are priced in the $11 range, appetizers no more than $7.

Kinsen, which is owned by the same folks who run the Kindee Thai restaurant on the north end of downtown, also sports a full bar that stays open until midnight.

The new restaurant’s Lagoon Ave. space has been impressively remodeled and features an open kitchen, high ceiling with an artistic, geometric design and an open floor plan that makes it easy to walk around.

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Celebrate Your Independents

This July, the Metro Independent Business Alliance (IBA) is encouraging shoppers to “Celebrate Your Independents.”

The promotion offers shoppers exclusive deals at member businesses — including Bibelot Shops, Butter Bakery Café, First Tech and the Linden Hills Co-op — as well as a change to win $1,250 in gifts card.

A kickoff event is scheduled for June 30 at Ingebretsen’s (1601 E. Lake St.) from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.