Biz buzz // Birchbark Books owner committed to Kenwood

Birchbark Books owner committed to Kenwood

KENWOOD — The Jan. 15 closing of the Kenwood Café has significantly slowed traffic in the Kenwood neighborhood’s tiny commercial district, the owner of neighboring Birchbark Books said in February.

But author and bookstore owner Louise Erdrich said rumors of the bookstore’s impending demise are premature.

“We’ve determined that we have to stay open, we want to stay open, and we’re still here,” she said.

Erdrich felt the need to speak up after reading speculation about the future of her store in news stories that followed the closing, after six years, of the Kenwood Café. The side-by-side businesses, located at 2115 W. 21st St., had a mutually beneficial relationship.

“It’s very quiet here,” Erdrich said. “The usual comings and goings of people has stopped because the wonderful dependence and interdependence that the café sponsored has absolutely stopped.”

Building owner Paul Modell offered some reassurance in February that the space may not remain empty for too long. Modell hired a real estate broker to market the space, and he said the broker was working with several potential tenants.

“We should be coming up with something here before too long,” he said. “… There’s an awful lot of interest in it.”

Modell acknowledged that the space would require improvements before a full-service restaurant could open, and said the new tenant would be required to pay for those improvements.

It was a dispute over who should pay for building improvements that led Kenwood Café owner Katherine Viegel to end her lease with Modell. Viegel also operates Isles Bun & Coffee in the East Isles neighborhood.

For now, bookstore manager Susan White is serving coffee to customers in the mornings “just to keep people coming in,” Erdrich said.

“We’re very determined to ride this out,” she added.


New home-based organic hair salon opens in Kingfield

KINGFIELD — James Stanton has owned a hair salon in Uptown and toured the world as style director for Regis Corp., but he doesn’t have to leave his house to reach his current salon. The veteran stylist opened Organic Hair Salon Minneapolis in September, and it’s right in his own home, 4041 Harriet Ave. S.

He said he prefers his comfortable home-based operation to his former salon in busy Uptown.

“I wasn’t a hardcore business guy, but I loved the work,” Stanton said. “I’m just delighted to have my salon in my home. It’s pretty low-key, I don’t even have a sign or anything.”

As the name suggests, Stanton’s salon exclusively uses all organic hair products. Years of working in salons has made him very sensitive to the chemicals used in conventional salons, and Stanton said that many of his clients have expressed negative reactions to standard hair products. Stanton discovered a European brand called Organic Hair Systems about 10 years ago and has been using it exclusively ever since.

“It works so beautifully and it is non-toxic,” he said. “It’s all organic, not tested on animals, PETA-approved and it colors wonderfully.”

Stanton is currently offering a 20 percent discount on all hair services. To contact him, visit his Facebook page at


Suburban World Theatre for sale

HENNEPIN — The Suburban World Theatre, 3022 Hennepin Ave., has been put up for sale by Commerce Bank of Edina, which took ownership of the property after it fell into foreclosure last year. Former owner Donald A. Driggs operated the theatre as an event center with both recurring and special events.

Coldwell Banker Burnett’s Jesse Olson has listed the theatre for $899,999 and cites the design by local architect Jack Liebenberg as a major selling point. Many of the theatre’s original Spanish-inspired features remain, such as stucco, balconies and statues.

Commerce Bank of Edina has spent $250,000 to preserve the historic building. The roof, plumbing and electrical systems have all been repaired, and additional insulation has been added. The repairs were all limited to code compliance issues, and Olson said that fans of the theatre shouldn’t worry about what a new owner might do to the space.

“There are some historical restrictions on it,” Olson said. “It’s my understanding that the exterior cannot be touched and the interior façade cannot be touched.”

Olson said that the listing immediately generated intense interest in the property, a good sign that it might sell quickly. “My phone rings off the hook,” he said. “I’ve gotten 10 calls a day on it.”


Southwest mompreneur launches new clothing line

Linden Hills mom Sonal Gerten was bored and disappointed with the clothing options for her baby Deven, so she decided to start her own clothing line — Tumblewalla Clothes.

The toddler clothing line is inspired by brightly colored, free-flowing Indian clothing for children. Tumblewalla translates in Hindi to “one who tumbles.” The clothes are 100 percent cotton and designed to be comfortable and durable.

Gerten has pledged to donate $1 from each item sold to its Tumble & Tickle Movement — a fundraiser for The Priyanka Foundation and One HomeMany Hopes, foundations serving youth in India and Kenya.

Deven, now 2, often sports Tumblewalla outfits.

“Play is not just a pastime, but a critical component of a child’s physical, social and emotional growth. Some of happiest moments as a mom are watching my son kick his feet wildly and break into giggles whenever we stop at the playground to build sandcastles or tumble down a slide,” she said. “But it also reminds me that we are lucky — many kids around the world don’t have access or opportunity to play.”

She sells the clothes online at and plans to be in local retailers soon.


Former Duplex space to become Birdhouse

HENNEPIN — Stewart and Heidi Woodman of restaurant Heidi’s have announced plans for a new restaurant called Birdhouse which will take over the former Duplex space at 2516 Hennepin Ave. this spring.

According to a news release, the 54-seat restaurant will focus on healthful, organic foods, with ample vegetarian and vegan options. Heidi’s sous chef Jordan Hamilton has been named as Birdhouse’s chef de cusine.

Birdhouse will open this spring and will be open daily from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m.


Now open: I Heart Kids Art

LINDEN HILLS — Open-door art studio I Heart Kids Art is now open at 2822 W. 43rd St. and will celebrate its grand opening on Feb. 20. The business provides children aged one to seven a place to work with arts and crafts materials in a non-structured environment.

“We provide art materials, which the kids can use freely while they’re here,” said I Heart Kids Art owner Robin Cruey. “And we do all the clean-up so parents don’t have to.”

In addition to regular unguided art sessions, I Heart Kids Art features recurring events such as story time at 10 a.m. on Wednesdays and is also available to rent for birthday parties. I Heart Kids Art shares its space with three other businesses which are also focused on fostering early childhood development: Learning Designs Learning, Wee Bop and Sage Education.

For more information on I Heart Kids Art and its partners, visit



Tanning salon iBeach Tan at 1400 Lagoon Ave. has closed. Members of the location with billing questions are encouraged to contact iBeach’s corporate headquarters via the email address [email protected]

Doug Flicker’s acclaimed restaurant Piccolo has purchased the building to the south and will shut down for 10 days in March while the two buildings are joined. Despite rumors that Flicker would open a wine bar in the southern building, the construction will primarily focus on revamping Piccolo’s dish room.

Whole Foods has announced an April 18 opening date for its new Edina location on France Avenue.

Eat Street Social, the second restaurant by the proprietors of Northeast Social, is now open. The restaurant at 18 W. 26th St. opened its doors on Feb. 9.

— Sarah McKenzie contributed to this report.