CoCo setting up shop in Uptown

A roundup of the latest business news

An illustration of CoCo's new Uptown space. Credit:

Lake & Lagoon
Coming Soon > CoCo setting up a new shop 

CoCo, a shared workspace concept that started on the Grain Exchange trading floor, is opening a third location in Uptown in September.

The 15,000-square-foot space is located under CVS Pharmacy at 1010 W. Lake St., where the group is building a wall of windows and a walkout patio. More than 100 new members who office at the site will access a tap room and billiards room. Reupholstered seats salvaged from the Uptown Theatre will fill risers for film screenings and investor pitches. The coffee will likely be a “CoCo blend” developed by True Stone Coffee Roasters in St. Paul, although the founders are considering a taste test to find another favorite roast.

Founding Partner Don Ball said the Lake Street building owner approached CoCo to rent the space, as the former auto repair shop would “take some imagination” to build out. Ball said CoCo was attracted to Uptown because many of its current members are young — single or starting families — and many of them live in the city.

“Uptown has density that makes a lot of sense for us,” he said.

Membership rates vary, but individual memberships are $180 per month for three days a week, or $350 per month for 24-hour access.

CoCo hosts events that are open to non-members, however, and many of them are free. In July, for example, CoCo’s free events included an improv class with business applications, a “House of Genius” event for solving business problems, and a Google for Entrepreneurs session on how to build a “Ruby on Rails” web application.


47th & Grand
Coming Soon > La Fresca 

Hector Ruiz opened his Rincon 38 restaurant three months ago, but he is already constructing another new venue before coming in to cook every day.

Ruiz plans to open the restaurant La Fresca at 4750 Grand Ave., a few blocks south of another of his restaurants, Café Ena. It will feature grass-fed  burgers, ice cream and “European comfort food.”

Ruiz said the new venue targets Washburn High School students, in an effort to provide them with healthier options than the gas stations and fast food spots they tend to frequent. Ruiz would like to donate school supplies to Washburn as a percentage of every sale to kids showing a student ID.

“I want to support the community and the school,” he said, noting that his son may attend Washburn.

The new restaurant is tiny at 36 seats, comparable to Rincon at 38th & Grand. Ruiz is planning an entirely open kitchen, with no walls to hide the chef from view.

Homemade ice cream is a new undertaking for Ruiz. He’s planning a trip to Mexico to learn the craft from a second-generation ice cream maker. The menu will also feature sandwiches on bolillo, which Ruiz described as a Mexican baguette with a crunchy top and a soft middle.

The restaurant opening is slated for October, with potential hours from noon to 10 p.m. or 12 a.m.


24th & Lyndale
Coming Soon > Omforme Design 

A pop-up furniture shop has found a permanent home at 613 W. 24th St.

While Omforme Design is new to the neighborhood, owner Carter Averbeck is a veteran in the design industry. He also runs Trompe Decorative Finishes, which has painted murals and Venetian plaster walls at spots like D’amico restaurants for the past 15 years.

Omforme is a Norwegian word meaning “transform.” Staff work to restore some of the 13 million tons of furniture tossed every year.

“When we refurbish furniture, we take into account the style and shape and marry that with current trends in interior design,” Averbeck said. “We turn them into bona fide art pieces.”

He’s excited about a steel beam chandelier coming to the shop designed by Ross Mackert, as well as a floating chandelier made from spare parts by Bruce Johnson.

The store will showcase visual artwork; pieces by students from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design; as well as home goods, dinnerware and throws.

“It’s very hard to find modern stuff like that without it being exorbitantly priced,” Averbeck said.

The shop will offer interior design services, and it will accept pieces of furniture that customers want to “resuscitate.”

Aberbeck said he snatched up the 24th Street space a single day after it became available, at a time when 15 inquiries had already come in. The space formerly belonged to Salon dpugh, which is now at 46th & Grand.

A grand opening celebration is slated for September, and Averbeck promises a spectacle. He enjoys placing furniture in the middle of the street for a quick flash photography session before the light turns green.


Calhoun Square
Coming soon > Knight’s Chambers Clothiers 

The men’s store Knight’s Chamber Clothiers operates locations across the state, and it’s moving into the city in September. 

“We wanted to challenge ourselves,” said owner Mike Bitzan. “My son [Manager Chris Bitzan] wanted to be in a more urban community with a more hip attitude.”

The store offers suits from Joseph Abboud and Tallia. Wedding packages include the option to buy at reduced prices.

“Our slogan is ordinary guys selling extraordinary suits,” Bitzan said. “We want to be hip, we want to be fashionable, but we’re just regular guys.”


Penn Avenue
Open during construction 

As cars continue detouring around Penn Avenue, the Armatage neighborhood is urging residents to keep visiting the shops on Penn.

The neighborhood hosted a party July 17 at 54th & Penn to bring people in to the area.

“Our goal is to invite residents up to the business node to make sure they know businesses are open,” said Tina Erazmus, Armatage Neighborhood Association coordinator.

During construction, Café Maude is now closed on Mondays and no longer serving weekday lunch. It remains open Tuesday-Sunday for dinner and weekend brunch, and it is offering free valet parking for dinner service.

Wagners is currently closed on Penn and plans to reopen following the end of construction in the fall. In the meantime, customers can visit a second Wagners location in Bloomington at 2100 W. Old Shakopee Rd.

As crews started ripping up the road at 54th & Penn, Settergren Hardware opened up its rear parking lot, allowing vehicles to drive down the alley to park and walk around the building to enter.

The Armatage neighborhood is considering a second party when the work is finished in October.

“It’s the great wall of the Armatage neighborhood,” Erazmus said. “It’s nice to have everybody come back together.”


Businesses feel impact from Solstice storm 

The impact of the Summer Solstice storm in late June is adding up to more than downed trees. For small businesses without power on a summer weekend, the financial impact was significant.

Restaurants without power for days included Fuji Ya at 600 W. Lake St., The Bulldog Uptown at 2549 Lyndale, The Gray House at 610 W. Lake St., Rudolphs Bar-B-Que at 1933 Lyndale, and Nightingale at 2551 Lyndale.

Nightingale had a full restaurant at 8 p.m. Friday, June 21 when the storm hit. Staff lit candles, and when the power didn’t come back, the restaurant emptied. The power didn’t return until the following Sunday at 1 a.m.

“We were trying to ice all of our food down, but we had to throw out all of our food,” said co-owner Jasha Johnston.

Nightingale had been looking forward to Open Streets on Lyndale June 23, particularly to show off its brunch menu that started a few weeks earlier. With the power out, that couldn’t happen.

“We had a great showing by the community to support us after that,” Johnston said. “But it’s far from recouping what we lost.”

Insurance might cover some of the food losses, but not the lost revenue, he said.

Tom Hanson, owner of Fuji Ya, said it was difficult to miss out on two-and-a-half days of business while residents without power swarmed to area restaurants. It was particularly difficult to see businesses with power across the street catch all the restaurant traffic, he said.

John Dykhuis, manager of Bulldog, noted that his employees lost out on tip revenue.

“Friday and Saturday are money-making shifts,” he said.

Muddy Waters at 2933 Lyndale alerted wandering Twitter followers to a “fortune’s worth” of cheese in its dumpster, and later joked that staff were “weeping in the dark with our fair trade, locally grown garbage.” The business was closed five days to allow for cleanup and prep work.

“Come on back and enjoy the patio,” said Manager Michelle Barrett.


Hennepin & Lagoon
New and improved > Social House

Social House has expanded into the I-Beach Tanning space next door, seating an extra 50 people at 2919 Hennepin Ave.

The restaurant also secured an upgraded liquor license that now allows DJs.

To coincide with the expansion, the restaurant is launching a new round of sushi rolls and signature cocktails.