Owl Optical opens in Linden Hills

LINDEN HILLS — A new specs shop in Linden Hills is carrying frames worn by the likes of Josh Hartnett, Julianne Moore and Johnny Depp (picture his signature dark round frames).

Owl Optical at 4318 Upton Ave. S. is the only store in Minnesota with the “MOSCOT” line. But Julie Hansen, who owns the store with her husband Christopher, said most of her frames are not outrageously expensive. In fact, she said, her prices on exams and contact lenses are competitive with Walmart. 

“I look for stuff you can’t find anywhere else,” said Hansen, who majored in fashion in college. “They can’t just be trendy. I tell people, ‘As long as your eyes are centered in the frame, they will look great.’” 

Owl Optical is opening in a former chiropractor’s office on Upton, and Hansen is hoping her shop will be a place people want to linger. She’s got a lollipop tree for kids, a backgammon game and novels like ”Twilight” and “The Hunger Games.”

Hansen has worked in the optical field since the age of 17, and she said she’s learned from her ex-employers’ mistakes. For her own business, she chose a selection of frames that fit both large heads and small faces. Adults who were previously told to shop in a kids’ section can look instead at Hansen’s petite line. 

“I have something for everybody that walked out,” she said. “We can help someone feel better about themselves. … I wanted to help people by bringing customer service back.” 

Hansen even prints her cell number on business cards. She promises that because she lives 10 minutes from the shop, it’s no trouble to leave the television at night to fix a frame. 

So far, her customer service skills seem to be working.

“In three weeks, I’ve already sold 15 pairs of glasses,” she said. “That’s 15 more than I thought I would do.”

Just in time for school, The Kenwood

KENWOOD — The much-anticipated restaurant joining the corner shops at 2115 W. 21st St. is opening shortly after Labor Day.

The Kenwood will stay open all day, selling pastries sourced from Patisserie 46 and Dogwood Coffee in the early morning. The Kenwood will feature a brunch menu, a “snack menu” in the afternoon and dinner service at 5 p.m. 

“[The] cooking style will be similar to what I do at In Season,” said Don Saunders, the owner who created ever-changing menu for In Season on Penn Avenue.

Saunders described the food as seasonal and “classic.” Patrons can sit at a counter and watch the kitchen team work.

“I felt like the restaurant should have a comfortable yet classy feel, with a lot of English influence,” he said. “I think it really ties into the historic feel of many of the homes in the neighborhood.”

The restaurant’s designer is Jim Smart, who lives around the corner. 

“It was a thrill to be doing it for my neighbors,” he said. 

Smart said he modeled the restaurant after Kenwood itself: traditional, with a bit of an edge. He described honey finishes on pine paneling, wool fabric on the walls, natural floors retaining “blemishes and all,” small-paned French windows and romantic lighting. 

“Evenings are going to be gorgeous,” Smart said. “It’s just going to have a glow.”

Kenwood Café, the space’s former restaurant, closed in January after the owners could not reach new lease terms with the landlord.

“It seemed like a great opportunity that I could not pass on,” Saunders said. “I’m confident that what we are going to offer is what the neighborhood wants.”

The Kenwood will operate Tuesday­–Sunday.  

Home remodeling business opening 

new location

WINDOM — Castle Building & Remodeling is opening a new studio at 5 W. Diamond Lake Road, a corner that the owner said is becoming a “home mecca.”

Castle joins Tangletown Gardens, Warners’ Stellian and the Diamond Lake Ace Hardware shop in the area. The family-owned business offers monthly seminars (with pizza) that draw a mix of DIYers and others looking to hire a contractor. 

“We focus a lot on value — how to make a $20,000 bathroom cost $15,000 and deliver the same material and quality,” said owner Loren Schirber.

Castle has adapted to survive the recession.

Three or four years ago, the company routinely worked on large additions or renovated entire homes for projects worth $300,000–$400,000. Those jobs are rare today. Instead, Castle might renovate 50 bathrooms in a year.

“It’s a lot more to manage,” Schirber said. “But we’re growing by doing smaller jobs.”

The Northeast-based company decided to open its new Southwest office to move closer to new customers on both sides of I-35W. That strategy worked at its St. Paul office: Sales quadrupled in nearby zip codes after the company opened an office there.

“With 8,000 licensed contractors to choose from, our theory was that being local and in the community is really important to people,” Schirber said. 

He noted Castle was always looking for new charities to benefit. The company has a bounce house available free of charge to community groups.

The new design selection studio, featuring kitchen and bath showrooms, is scheduled to open by mid-September.

Solomon’s Porch opens yoga center

KINGFIELD — The church Solomon’s Porch now owns the building at 100 W. 46th St. that it previously rented, and church members decided to open a new yoga center there this summer.

Six church members happen to be certified yoga masters, and many are yoga practitioners.

“We want to do good things in the world,” said Shelley Pagitt, yoga center coordinator and instructor. “How can we breathe more life into this community and broaden it? Maybe [we can help] people who don’t do church, but want to take care of themselves.”

Yoga Sanctuary opened on the summer solstice, June 20, offering unique classes like: date night yoga, in which couples spend a lot of time laughing and often go out afterward; yoga with hula hoops for an extra cardio boost; and Yoga For Your Health, which targets specific organs of the body.

The yoga is not overtly Christian, but instructors do spend extra time on the spiritual side of the practice.

“We teach really holistic yoga differently from health club yoga,” Pagitt said.

Yoga Sanctuary offers daily classes, and the first class is free.

Solomon’s Porch also opened a wellness center last January. The center offers a variety of services including acupuncture, counseling, shiatsu and massage. 

Ice cream innovations

When the owner of Rye Deli decided to introduce a new ice cream flavor this summer at 1930 Hennepin Ave., he showed up at the Sebastian Joe’s commissary with a bottle of rye whiskey. 

“It’s a unique whiskey; it had a unique flavor,” said Mike Pellizzer, co-owner of Sebastian Joe’s. 

The team created a vanilla ice cream using the whiskey, a bit of orange peel and toasted caraway rye seeds. 

“We put them in a pan over a low flame and toasted them until they popped like popcorn,” Pellizzer said.

Sebastian Joe’s also created a custom flavor for the Kingfield Neighborhood Association, which shuttled 8–10 tubs of Crème Fraiche Curry Crunch to more than 50 National Night Out parties in August. The ice cream has a vanilla base with a splash of buttermilk and oven-roasted pralines coated in curry.

“The curry kind of mellows it out,” said Pellizzer. 

Anodyne is now selling the ice cream flavor at 4301 Nicollet Ave. S., and through the month of September the shop is donating $1 per scoop to the new playground slated for Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park in 2013. 

Sebastian Joe’s has created other custom flavors in recent years for restaurants like Kincaid’s. Pellizzer said he is grateful for new inspiration from restaurant chefs. 

“After doing it for all these years, I don’t have nightmares anymore where I wake up and write down [a recipe],” he said. 

Sebastian Joe’s is not the only flavor innovator in town, of course. A few other Southwest ice cream shops created new scoops this summer: 

Crema Cafe, 3404 Lyndale Ave. S., added lemon cucumber, featuring Pinot Grigio and spearmint from the garden. A new crème brulée ice cream is layered with house-made caramel and chocolate. There is also a new margarita sorbet, new “beer floats” made with Guinness and sorbet cocktails made with prosecco.

Patisserie 46 at 4552 Grand Ave. S. is now serving homemade basil ice cream and leche mint. 

Cafe Kem, 2524 Nicollet Ave., added a new avocado flavor. 

Jackson’s Coffee & Gelato at 822 W. Lake St. now sells peanut butter, cantaloupe and a new-ish lavender flavor.

The Edina Creamery at 5055 France Ave. S. has started scooping lemon sorbet and caramel banana brownie. 

New HealthPartners clinic opening

FIELD — HealthPartners is opening a new clinic Oct. 1 at 4730 Chicago Ave. 

Services at the 7,800-square-foot primary care and urgent care clinic will include family practice, ob-gyn, chiropractic and lab and imaging services. A dietician will also be on site a few times each month.

Patients do not need to use HealthPartners insurance to access the clinic. Same-day appointments are available.

One added bonus: iPads are available to check out from the front desk while waiting. 

Ayurveda health practice opening in October

LINDEN HILLS — Ayurveda, an ancient alternative medicine practice, comes to Linden Hills Oct. 1.

“Ayurveda is considered yoga’s sister science,” said Keri Magnis, certified Ayurvedic practitioner and owner of Elements Ayurveda, 4316 Upton Ave. S.

Magnis said the practice aims to improve the overall health of the person, using yoga as just one of many tools to achieve this goal.

Ayurveda is based on the three doshas, combinations of elements that express the way a person interacts with the world. Magnis looks at each patient’s medical and family history, physical build and emotional tendencies, among other things, to determine their dosha.

Pitta doshas, for example, are made up of fire and water. Magnis said they tend to have fiery personalities and lots of ambition, making them good leaders.

Each individual is made up of a combination of doshas. Ayurveda looks at this composition and advises patients on food choices, color choices, ideal yoga poses and other aspects of their everyday life.

“We are trying to heal people not just on a physical level, but emotionally, spiritually [and] psychologically,” Mangis said. “We work with people on satisfying their longings for life.”

Magnis was introduced to the concept of Ayurveda during her work as a yoga teacher. She looked to it as a way to deal with her own health issues.

“I just found I was always the patient where there was, quote, nothing wrong, but I just didn’t feel right,” she said. 

In addition to consultations and health counseling, Magnis will offer bodywork to compliment the healing process. Pricing and more information about Ayurveda can be found online at elementsayurveda.com.

Francesca’s Collections hiring

CARAG — Francesca’s Collections, a national clothing retailer, appears ready to open a store at Calhoun Square.

The shops sell women’s clothing, offering a limited stock of each item to ensure new items come into the store frequently, according to their website.

A Craigslist advertisement indicates the company seeks a store manager for the soon-to-open Calhoun location. The company did not respond to an email seeking comment.

— Maggie Kane contributed to this report.