Biz Buzz // New-and-improved Uptown Theatre opening soon

EAST ISLES — The renovated Uptown Theatre is aiming to reopen in late September at 2906 Hennepin Ave. 


“We’re at the point where the new walls are up, and it’s going to start snowballing,” said Head Manager Patrick Cross. “We’re getting pretty close now.”


The theater is adding ovens to prepare food like mozzarella sticks and panini sandwiches for audiences to bring into the show. The restaurant fare is still under development.


“It’s definitely film-focused,” Cross said. “It’s not a hot dog, but it’s also not outsourcing spinach from an organic farm.”


The theater recently secured a new liquor license, and Cross is fielding a mountain of applications for the head bartender spot. The bar will serve simple drinks and high-quality liquor, and it won’t be a stand-alone operation. When movies start, patrons inside the theater are the only ones who will access the upper-level bar to order drinks. 


The theater will feature stadium seats on the bottom floor. VIP-style seats will populate the balcony, perhaps netting higher ticket prices. 


The theater shouldn’t become overly gentrified, however. Cross said small-budget films will remain the focus. 


“We’re not going to start bringing in Hollywood movies,” he said, noting that midnight movies and The Rocky Horror Picture Show will stay on the schedule. “Right now, we’re still the same theater, hopefully with better food options.”


The renovated theater is now smaller, however, providing about half of the 900 seats it offered in the past. 


Two retail spaces expanded to displace some of the seats. The new retailers include a shoe store and a hat shop.


(UPDATE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated one of two new retailers opening in the Uptown Theatre space was a men’s suit shop. It is a shoe store.)




New hat shop on the way 


EAST ISLES — A San Francisco-based hat shop called Goorin Bros. is opening next to the Uptown Theatre in the fall. 


“Goorin Bros. is a company rich in history, and we look for retail space that is rich in history as well,” said May Hanecak, Goorin’s office manager. “We create shops that have an Old World feel to them, which includes our fixtures and furniture.”


Goorin Bros. sells a few different hat product lines, some of them meant to brave the elements, some of them meant to be timeless, and others designed by artists with backgrounds in painting, graffiti or photography. 


The company was founded in 1895 by a Pittsburgh craftsman who sold hats out of a horse cart. The company is still in the family, currently owned by the craftsman’s great-great grandson. 


Goorin Bros. operates 24 other shops throughout the U.S. and Canada.


“We selected Uptown because it’s a great representation of the authentic retail streets of America,” Hanecak said.




Second phase of Elan Uptown approved


LOWRY HILL EAST — Hundreds of new luxury apartments are headed to Uptown. In July, the national apartment developer Greystar secured the city Planning Commission’s green light to build 387 apartments north of the Midtown Greenway between Emerson and Fremont avenues. 


That’s on top of 203 units already approved for Greystar to build on a site one block east of there. The groundbreaking for the project took place July 25.


The following provides a breakdown of the newly approved plans for Elan Uptown:


On the block between Dupont and Emerson, one U-shaped building will rise six stories along the Greenway, stepping down to four stories on the north side of the block. It will feature an outdoor courtyard, a swimming pool and a public promenade that will run north of the Greenway, connecting Dupont to Emerson and Fremont. 


Four other buildings will cover the block between Emerson and Fremont. The building closest to the Greenway will again reach six stories in height. The other three buildings closest to 28th Street will stand at three stories. The southeast corner of the block will feature an outdoor courtyard and swimming pool.


A staircase on the center block will take pedestrians down to the Greenway. The developer plans to add Boston ivy to the Greenway’s new 21-foot retaining wall. Ornamental street lamps will light up the site, promenade and Greenway.


The entire project is scheduled to be complete in the summer of 2014.


The Charleston-based developer manages residences in over 100 markets across the country. Elan Uptown units will feature stainless steel appliances, flat-panel espresso kitchen and bath cabinetry and granite countertops with slate mosaic tile backsplashes. The complex will offer fitness and tanning rooms, fire pits, cabanas and a rooftop terrace. 


“The [Elan] community will help fill the demand for high quality apartment homes that fit well with the Uptown area’s healthy, vibrant lifestyle,” said David Reid, Managing Director of Development for Greystar, in a news release.




New tenant lined up for mono’s old space


ECCO — The fast-growing MentorMate firm is relocating within Uptown to 3036 Hennepin Ave., occupying the ad shop mono’s old spot (recognizable by the bright blue door). 


MentorMate makes mobile apps, such as an iPad app built for a school district in Plymouth. The educational app, called Click’n’Talk, was built for developmentally challenged students, and it allows users to click on a photo to activate a prerecorded message. The company also makes large-scale web applications, like the search engine optimization tool SypderMate, and the sales management software iQpakk.


MentorMate isn’t moving far, just a few blocks from its old spot at 2101 Hennepin Ave. 


“We love the Uptown area and we want to stay here. It fits our culture,” said Marketing Director Andy Forsberg. “We’ve outgrown our current space, plus the mono office is a big upgrade for us.”


The company recently earned a spot on “The Flyover 50,” which honors 50 fast-growing companies in middle America. MentorMate employed 42 employees two years ago, and this summer, the tally stands at 137. About 50 more employees are expected to join the ranks by the end of the year. 


MentorMate has international reach as well. It recently added two overseas offices, giving MentorMate a presence in Bulgaria’s three largest cities.


The company is preparing to host its first-ever “MobCon” in November, which is a conference dedicated to mobile strategy, technology and marketing. 




Another yoga clothier coming to 50th & France


50TH & FRANCE — prAna, a California-based clothier for active lifestyles, is opening a new store at 50th & France, featuring a space for free yoga. 


“This is going to be one of our largest stores,” said Marketing Coordinator Sarah Kensell. The shop at 3926 W. 50th St. will open in mid-October. 


prAna is an ancient Sanskrit word that stands for breath, life and vitality of the spirit. The company consults with climbers and yoginis to help design the clothing. 


“We were one of the first to infuse a sense of style within the active outdoor world and yoga world,” Kensell said. 


The company initially made clothing tailored for rock climbing and yoga. The founders sewed the clothes in a garage, and handmade the original hangtag paper from old newspapers and essential oils.


“We are very, very excited to become part of your community and we are confident that we will be the type of resident that will give back to the community,” Kensell said in an email. “It’s in our DNA and we’ve been doing it since we were founded in the early part of the 1990s.”




New burger joint opening on Hennepin


EAST ISLES — Five Guys Burgers and Fries is coming to 2300 Hennepin Ave. in early September.


The restaurant sells a basic selection of burgers and hot dogs, and the fries are cooked in no-cholesterol peanut oil.  


“People walk in and say it isn’t very fancy. We’re not fancy, but we’re high-quality,” said Molly Catalano, director of communications. “Everything is fresh.”


The company started as a family business in Virginia and the D.C. area in 1986. Today, it franchises 1,000 locations nationwide, with 1,500 in development. Five Guys has one other Minnesota site in Shoreview, and the company is scouting for a new storefront in St. Louis Park, as well.




Pat’s Tap holding block party 


LYNDALE — Pat’s Tap is hosting its first-ever block party on Saturday, Aug. 25, featuring artist-created carnival games for all ages. 


Guests will find oddities like life-size animal crackers, a giant photo booth and carnival games that require fishing out of a tank attached to a man’s head. Also watch for Minnesota biome-flavored cotton candy, fortune-telling and spin art. Pat’s Tap is partnering with the Soo Visual Arts Center’s interactive carnival, called Sideshow Soo, to put on the event.


The live music stage will feature Mariachi Estrella, Chokecherry, Cactus Blossoms, Motel California, Romantica and Shot to Hell. 


The block party runs from 3-9 p.m. at 3510 Nicollet Ave.


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