Biz buzz // George and the Dragon coming to 50th and Bryant

50th & BRYANT — Classic English-style pub George and the Dragon has been revealed as the new business at 50th & Bryant, the location that was home to businesses such as Heidi’s and Patina before a destructive 2010 fire.

The new pub is the brainchild of Fred Navarro, a local veteran restaurant manager, and his wife Stacy Navarro. Fred Navarro managed multiple restaurants at the Mall of America through the Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants company, and his wife is handling much of the behind-the-scenes work.

Navarro said that his decision to go out on his own has much more to do with wanting to be a part of his community than a lifelong dream to run his own restaurant. The restaurant is six blocks away from his house and only three blocks from his son’s school.

“I was pretty content with where I was at,” said Navarro. “But when I found out there was an opportunity to go into that building, it was something worth exploring. We really want to give back to a neighborhood.”

Navarro said that there are countless great restaurants in south Minneapolis, but he hopes that George and the Dragon can be a place residents frequent for quality, affordable food. He hopes the pub follows the original English path of a “public house” and becomes a place for the community to gather. Navarro plans to offer up the space for community events, neighborhood meetings and fundraisers.

“If this business was just about making money I probably would have stayed in my old position,” said Navarro.

While the menu is still being finalized, Navarro said George and the Dragon will offer up traditional pub food with as many local and organic ingredients as possible. Burgers, fish and chips and bangers and mash will all be served, as well as a traditional Filipino egg roll called Lumpia. Navarro also plans for 10 beer taps and another 10 or so bottled beers.

George and the Dragon is scheduled to open early April.

Jack’s steps up its culinary game

EAST HARRIET — The menu at Jack’s at 46th & Bryant has been given a major makeover.

Kevin Kathman is now the lead chef/partner at Jack’s. He has experience working in the kitchens at Barbette and the French Laundry in Napa, Calif., and trained at the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont.

The new menu is designed to transform the longtime neighborhood coffee shop into a top-notch restaurant with classic American dishes with modern twists. It’s divided into bites, cool dishes and warm plates. Highlights include the Agnolotti (Butternut squash served with sage, brown butter and pecans) and Pork Belly with apples, burdock and vanilla. There’s a chefs tasting menu with five courses for $49 and a wine pairing for $35.

The goal for Kathman is to cook great food and elevate Jack’s place in the Twin Cities dining scene — to make it a dining destination for people throughout the metro, not just the neighborhood.

“I want it to be a fun, laid-back atmosphere with cool modern food,” he said.

Jack’s new culinary team will be encouraged to experiment with ingredients. For instance, the apple served with the pork belly dish could come in a variety of ways — sautéed, as apple chips, a tart sauce or raw salad.

Jack’s has a new wine list, too, with outstanding bottles offered at lower price points than other area restaurants, Kathman said.

For more details, go to jacksmpls.com.

New restaurant planned for former coffee shop

BRYN MAWR — The owner of Italian restaurants al Vento and Rinata is planning to open a “hole-in-the-wall” restaurant in the building that formerly housed Bryn Mawr Coffee Shop.

Jonathan Hunt, executive chef and co-owner of Sparks, 230 Cedar Lake Road S., said the restaurant would serve “American foods with Mediterranean influences.” No opening date has been scheduled yet.

Hunt, who used to live not far from al Vento in South Minneapolis, moved to Bryn Mawr with his wife about five months ago. Hunt, 36, said he has been cooking since he was 15 years old and plans to continue to split his time between the three restaurants.

He opened al Vento about seven years ago, then opened Rinata, 2451 Hennepin Ave. S., about three years ago with co-owner Amor Hantous, a former al Vento server. Hantous also will be co-owner of Sparks.

Hunt described Sparks as a neighborhood restaurant with “very limited” seating. The space is of a similar size to nearby Cuppa Java at Penn & Cedar Lake Road, a café that serves wine, beer and food, and shares with that restaurant a triangular floor plan, he said.

New group for home-based businesses

LINDEN HILLS — Liz Loney doesn’t have to look far to see that she isn’t the only one whose home doubles as an office.

“Just on my block, there are eight people with home-based businesses,” said Loney, a life coach who runs her consulting business, Imagine Your Life, from her Xerxes Avenue home.

Looking to harness the collective power of such businesses, Loney recently began a group called Lake Harriet Professionals. The group has met four times already, but is looking to formally introduce itself to the public with a Valentines Treasure Hunt on Saturday, Feb. 11.

The event will begin at Famous Daves, 4264 Upton Ave. S., and include clues that lead to specific landmarks in Linden Hills. The search will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and winners will receive complimentary services from members of the new group.

The goal is much the same as the group itself: to make residents aware of the often unseen businesses in their midst, and to urge them to consider tapping talents next door before looking elsewhere.

“No more Googling or Yellow Pages,” Loney said. “We want to show people that you can just come to us and you’ll get exactly what you need.”

The group has 14 members now, and is looking to expand. But the growth will be slow, in part because the businesses that are included are vetted to make sure group members feel comfortable referring them to others.

Currently, there are graphic designers, a piano teacher, a career coach, a writer and a personal trainer.

“There’s a real feeling of excitement that this is going to build our businesses and that the group itself is really going to take off,” Loney said.

To learn more about the group visit lakeharrietprofessionals.com. For more info on Loney’s business, go to www.imagineyourlifecoaching.com.


Celebrate winter at Midtown Global Market

MIDTOWN — The Midtown Global Market is hosting “Celebrate Winter in the City” events at the Midtown Global Market the last Sunday of January, February and March.

Local farmers markets will be featured at the events. The Kingfield Market will be at the Jan. 29 event, Fulton Farmers’ Market on Feb. 26 and Midtown Farmers Market on March 25.

FriendChip Farm will also be organizing children’s activities designed to encourage healthful eating habits.

Local food trucks will also make an appearance. The YumMi and Gastro trucks will be at the January event, Fork in the Road and Saucy Burt’s in February and Gai Gai Thai and House of Hunger in March.

The events run 11 a.m.–3 p.m.

STEP-UP program seeking applicants

Students can apply now for an internship with a local employer through the STEP-UP Summer Jobs Program. Applications are due Feb. 3.

Each summer, the program places about 2,000 youth aged 14–21 with area employers, including local businesses, government agencies and nonprofits, for paid summer internships. Last year, 1,980 young people found positions with 275 employers and together earned about $2.9 million in wages, the district reported.

Applicants must live in Minneapolis and be of a qualifying age on June 1. Those interns chosen to participate must first complete a work skills-training program in March and April before they are placed with employers.

Most STEP-UP summer jobs run from June 18 through mid-August, and all pay a minimum of $7.25 an hour.

For more information, call 455-1530 or go to achievempls.org/step-achieve-summer-jobs.

The website also includes information for employers that wish to host a STEP-UP intern this summer.


Planned Parenthood expands hours

EAST CALHOUN — Planned Parenthood’s Uptown location, 1200 Lagoon Ave. S., has expanded its hours.

The health center is now open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.–6 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m.–1 p.m.

“We’ve been a part of the vibrant Uptown community for close to two decades. We are now open seven days a week, with expanded hours, as a direct response to needs and wishes of our patients,” said Sarah Stoesz, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota. “In these challenging economic times, it is crucial that women have access to reproductive and basic preventative health care.”

The Uptown clinic provides cancer screenings, birth control, prevention and treatment of STIs, breast health services, pap tests, sexual health education and counseling.

For more information, go to ppmns.org.


Loring Theater closes

NICOLLET — The Loring Theater, the 1920s venue at 1407 Nicollet formerly known as the Music Box Theater, has closed its doors. Its operators, The Directors, LLP, opted not to renew its lease, which expired on Dec. 31. In November, The Directors slashed the majority of its scheduled shows after falling on tough financial times.

The Directors have operated the Loring Theater venue since 2010. According to a statement posted on its website by artistic director Steve Barberio, over 15,000 people attended shows at Loring Theater during their run. Conceived as a “modern variety house,” Loring Theater scheduled a wide variety of events, including concerts, movies and “Haunted Theater: Fallout,” a haunted house/interactive theater experience inspired by the fallout shelter in the building’s basement.

Got a buzz tip? Email Journal editor Sarah McKenzie at [email protected]

(Note: This column has been revised to correct the spelling of Liz Loney’s name.)