Biz buzz // Mesa Pizza coming to Uptown

Mesa Pizza brings its eclectic slices to Uptown

EAST ISLES — Looking for a quick late-night food fix near Lake & Hennepin? Now you have another option besides McDonalds.

Mesa Pizza has brought its eclectic brand of pizza by the slice to the old Ivy retail building next to TCF Bank and Kinkos, just feet away from Uptown’s marquee intersection.

Mesa’s original Dinkytown location is known as a favorite post-bar close destination for night owls suffering from a case of the munchies. The Uptown location isn’t open as late — closing time will be at 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 1 a.m. the rest of the week — but managing partner David Hathaway said he hopes the city will allow him to keep the pizzeria open until 3 a.m. once it demonstrates it can be a good neighbor.

The interior of the Uptown Mesa is reminiscent of the Dinkytown location, with lots of stool seating along a narrow countertop lining the perimeter of the storefront and some tables and chairs in the middle of the building. Hathaway said the pizza offerings at the Uptown Mesa will be similar to what patrons of the Dinkytown location are used to, featuring unique combinations like bacon cheeseburger and guacamole burrito.

But while the new Mesa doesn’t reinvent the wheel, Hathaway made sure to include some local color in the Uptown location, including a mural featuring Uptown landmarks like Calhoun Square and Lake Calhoun that greets patrons as they walk in off Lake Street.

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Now open: Settergren Hardware in Linden Hills

LINDEN HILLS — Settergren Ace Hardware is now open in the old Linden Hills Co-op building at 2318 W. 43rd St.

Owner Mark Settergren said the new store emphasizes a robust selection of power tools spanning the gamut from drill presses to compressors, along with the expected mix of hardware and other items like toys and bait.

A grand opening celebration is scheduled for the weekend of Oct. 29 and 30. The celebration will feature a Weber Grill giveaway and storewide sales.

Meanwhile, neighboring Bayers Hardware, 4312 Upton Ave. S., is set to open The Pantry, a small convenience grocery section toward the front of the hardware store.

Owner Bob Bayers said that in the wake of the Co-op’s relocation, groceries “are badly needed on this corner.”

The competition between Settergren and Bayers is off to an acrimonious start. Bayers said he’s bothered by the logo on Settergren’s awning, which alludes to graphics used in the Linden Hills Business Association’s annual business directory. Both Bayers and Settergren are due-paying members of the association.

“It’s almost as though [the awning] says ‘this is the business association’s hardware store’ — that’s how some people are perceiving it,” Bayers said.

But association president Mark Dwyer downplayed the graphics controversy. He said he gave Settergren permission to use the logo, but added that the association will introduce redesigned graphics next year anyway.

“We don’t own the rights [to the graphics], we share them with our members,” Dwyer said,” adding that mimicking the association’s logo on his awning is Settergren’s right.

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Quality Coaches, Twin Town go solar

Two more Southwest businesses have gone solar.

One year after Mulroy’s Auto Body, 3920 Nicollet Ave., installed a 40-kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) system, Quality Coaches, 20 W. 38th St., and Twin Town Guitars, 3400 Lyndale Ave., are the second and third businesses in Southwest to harness the sun for on-site electricity generation.

Twin Town owner Andrew Bell announced his business would be installing a 25-30 kilowatt system on the same day a 25-kilowatt array was being assembled on top of Quality Coaches.

Bell characterizes the decision to go solar as a “win-win-win-win” for all parties involved.

“I don’t want to be all political, but I think from many perspectives — national security, environmental, renewability — it’s a good thing,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a tree hugger, investor or somewhere in between.”

Twin Town and Quality Coaches both used grant money from the Kingfield neighborhood to pay for a structural assessment and energy audit. That money didn’t make a huge dent in a total price tag that often exceeds $250,000 for PV systems, but it helped defray some of the up-front costs.

Quality Coaches owner Mark Brandow said his decision to install a PV system was mainly motivated by environmental considerations. He said he expects his system, which includes a cutting-edge battery back-up system that will allow his business to keep operating even when the power grid isn’t working, to pay for itself within six years.

Since his business uses less electricity than Quality Coaches, Bell expects Twin Town’s system to pay for itself in just three years.

Kingfield’s solar grants are no longer available, but other incentives are. Both Quality Coaches and Twin Town took advantage of an Xcel Energy rebate that reimburses solar owners for installing Minnesota-made panels.

Quality Coaches is holding an open house to celebrate its new PV system on Oct. 22 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will feature live music, food and an ice cream social.

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Closing: Café Twenty Eight

LINDEN HILLS — Though it’s done brisk business since opening at 2724 W. 43rd St. in 2002, Café Twenty Eight will soon close.

Reached for comment just moments after she broke the bad news to her kitchen staff, owner Linda Haug tearfully said the restaurant is closing because landlords Joanne and Tom Ellison want to take the property in a different direction.

Haug said she decided to sell Café Twenty Eight to longtime employee Russ Conlon so that she could focus her energies on helping her husband, Surly brewmaster Todd Haug, get Surly’s on-site restaurant off the ground. She said Conlon developed a business plan and was excited about the opportunity to run the restaurant, but the Ellisons apparently have other ideas.

“We’re still a busy, viable business. My employee is ready and [selling] would’ve kept everybody here employed,” Haug said. “I thought it was a good situation for all involved, but I guess I overestimated how much a seamless transition meant [to the landlords].”

Haug said she isn’t yet sure when Café Twenty Eight’s last day of business will be, but said the restaurant may close at the end of the year.

Tom Ellison could not be reached for comment by press time.

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Now open and offering classes: Digs Studio

KINGFIELD — Digs Studio, now open at 3800 Grand Ave. S., sells a wide range of hand-made gifts and jewelry — everything from paper goods to pillows to tablecloth.

But the store is about more than products. Beginning late this month, local artists will teach knitting, glove making and crocheting classes, meaning next year you might be able to make rather than buy Christmas presents.

Owner Linda Schneewind initially opened Digs in Northfield, but when she moved back to Minneapolis she decided to take her store with her. After over a year of searching for the right building, she opened Digs at 38th & Grand late this summer.

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Noted

Rye’s Delicatessen is set to open sometime next month in the old Auriga space at 1930 Hennepin Ave. S. in East Isles, according to co-owner David Weinstein. As of press time, renovation work is ongoing at the site and a “now hiring” sign had been placed in the storefront window.

Pig & Fiddle is set to open late this month in the old Peason’s building off 50th & Ewing in Fulton, according to co-owner Mark van Wie. The bar and restaurant has the same ownership as St. Paul’s renown Muddy Pig.