Biz buzz // Upscale Irish pub planned for Lake Street

CARAG — Can an “upscale Irish pub” succeed where so many other restaurants have failed?

The four partners behind Morrissey’s Irish Pub think so. They are within days of signing a lease for 913 W. Lake St., home to four separate restaurants since 2007, according to one of the men, Scott Schuler.

Schuler, who is also a partner in the Savoy Pizza at 24th & Hennepin, said Tuesday they signed a letter of intent to lease the space with owners in September and aim to finalize their agreement “within the next week or so.” After some remodeling of the 1921-built commercial storefront, they aim to open by “mid-February at the latest,” he said.

Schluer outlined plans for the space at the CARAG Board of Directors meeting, and was joined by a second partner who will also serve as general manager of the bar and restaurant. That man asked not to be identified because he is still employed by another local Irish bar.

The two described plans for an “upscale” pub serving “a traditional menu with an Uptown twist,” including some vegetarian or vegan options alongside Irish classics like shepherd’s pie. They plan to apply for a class C1 liquor license, which would allow for live music.

Schuler said they plan to refurbish the exterior of the building, beginning by blasting off the coat of blue paint currently covering the brick façade, and also add new lighting and signage. History seems to indicate they need some way to attract attention; the list of failed restaurants on the site since 2007 includes Restaurant Miami, Los Lagos Mexican Restaurant, Favor Café and Viva Brazil.

A “substantial” remodeling of the interior would include a new bar and flooring and improvements to the kitchen, Schuler said.

Hours of operations are tentatively planned to be 11 a.m.–2 a.m. daily. The partners are in negotiations with a chef, but have not hired one yet.

New nonprofit helps artists with disabilities

TANGLETOWN — A new nonprofit at Simply Jane will take advantage of the new community mural tucked behind the building off of Diamond Lake Road.

“Next summer we will have a beautiful little outdoor studio,” said owner Jane Elias. “People love it. It was a really drab back alley of the building.”

Her new nonprofit Simply ArtAble at 5411 Nicollet Ave. provides an artistic outlet for adults and children with disabilities. The nonprofit held its first fundraiser in October.

“Our motto is that everybody is a fabulous artist, and we hope to draw that out,” Elias said.

Simply Jane previously shared studio space with Alleyway Arts, which now offers classes at the Center for Performing Arts, 3754 Pleasant Ave.

Elias looks forward to summer camps next year, when students will paint in the new courtyard. Hwa Rang Do is also interested in hosting martial arts classes outside, she said.

“We’re taking the energy from inside the building and bringing it out into the community,” she said.

The mural project was sponsored by the Tangletown Neighborhood Association. 

Artist Ta-coumba Aiken met with youth ages 9 to 21, and asked them to create images depicting peace, love, healing and compassion. He wove all of their images into the mural. 

“During rush hour, people will look through that parking lot and see beautiful, brightly-colored imagery about peace,” Aiken said. 

Baker eyeing space on Hennepin 

THE WEDGE — The chocolate croissants and potato rosemary loaves at Solomon’s Bakery are expanding from the Mill City Market to a new location at 2827 Hennepin Ave. 

Owner Veronica Anczarski said she plans to open as soon as she gets a green light from the city, selling pastries, bread and coffee at the former Infinitea Teahouse. 

Anczarski earned degrees in marketing and art from DePaul University in Chicago, but her career plans took a detour when she found a pastry chef opening at a vegetarian café. 

“I made the owner a cake. He tried it and liked it, and said, ‘This job is yours,’” she said. “He didn’t ask me if I had any experience or knew what I was doing … I’ve never been to culinary school. I taught myself how to bake.”

Anczarski expanded her culinary education when she took a job at a Barnes & Noble store. She paged through every cookbook on the shelf.

“All I did was read, read, read,” Anczarski said. “I got lots of ideas. … I had no idea how to make bread.”

Anczarski has adopted a European style of pastry-making, and she also perfected a selection of Latin pastries when she took over a Latin bakery space at 2401 Central Ave. NE three years ago. 

So long, Cowboy Slim’s

THE WEDGE — Cowboy Slim’s is now closed and gutted at 1320 W. Lake St., and a developer continues working to line up its replacements.

The site is slated for seven stories of apartments, two restaurants and other ground-floor retail. 

Marketers for the project say no timeline is in place for construction, but they can promise that major financial obstacles are covered and the project will proceed. Progress is also underway in signing retail tenants, according to the marketing firm. 

“There are no leases signed, but we have lots of verbal agreements,” said Tony Zosel, president of Multiply Communications. “There are lots of different chefs and different entities involved. It will be very unique. It’s not going to be your standard apartment with a coffee shop below it.”

The city Planning Commission approved the project in February.

Now closed: El Meson 

CARAG — El Meson is now closed on Lyndale, although the owners continue to operate Café Ena at 4601 Grand Ave. S.

“I write this with a heavy heart. Sadly, we have made the very difficult decision to close our doors at El Meson,” the owners wrote on their website. “We appreciate all of your support over the years and hope to see you at Café Ena.”

New plan for Famous Dave’s site advances

LINDEN HILLS — The city Planning Commission approved plans Oct. 1 for a three-story condo building at 4250 and 4254 Upton Ave. S., the current home of Famous Dave’s and the Edward Jones office building. 

The smaller project size allowed it to circumvent a neighborhood moratorium on new development while Linden Hills creates a small-area plan. 

“Before, a lot of people objected to the size of Linden Corner,” said Christopher Maddox, communications chair of the Linden Hills Neighborhood Council, referring to the former six-story proposal rejected by the City Council. “This is within all the zoning criteria, so whether people like it or not, there is nothing people can do.”

He said a neighborhood subcommittee will determine in the coming weeks whether the area’s pocket park should be enhanced after construction. 

The approved project includes 18 condo units, 6,000 square feet of ground-floor retailers or offices — no restaurant — and underground parking. 

Developer Mark Dwyer said construction will begin after the 18 condominiums are pre-sold. 

“All of us are thrilled with this new opportunity,” he said in an email.

Tattoo parlor adds coffee bar, outdoor fire pit

CARAG — The Defiant Tattoo parlor is lighting up the outdoor fire pit this week, and its caffeine bar is now open, serving coffee, energy drinks, Heggies frozen pizzas and catered Red’s Savoy sandwiches. 

The shop at 3014 Lyndale Ave. S. is also expanding its retail space with new shirts and body jewelry. 

Defiant Tattoo relocated to Uptown after its Downtown building was foreclosed upon. 

“We like it here a lot better,” said Manager Keith Hieserich. “We’re getting a lot of business pretty quickly.”

Office Manager Emily Rampt said Defiant touts the only caffeine-tattoo bar in the Midwest — the only other like this is in upstate New York, she said. 

The bar also serves Jet Fuel, which is a hard-to-find espresso bean packing twice the caffeine.

Noted 

WINDOM — An authentic Finnish sauna is under construction outside Uncommon Gardens at 5750 Lyndale Ave. S. 

Glenn Auerbach decided to build a sauna outside the store to demonstrate how to turn backyard corners into North Woods-style retreats for health and wellness.