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A Speakeasy With Spiked Boba, a New Cannabakery, and More May Restaurant News

It's the May edition of the Racket Restaurant Roundup.

Instagram: @l2_tiicup / Eat Street Crossing|

Left: A neon tiger beckons at Tii Cup’s new Uptown speakeasy. Right: “Da Hurricane” fries at Staff Meeting.

There's lots of moving and shaking in the Racket Restaurant Roundup this month: coffee shops settling in down the street or across town from their original locations; the news that Saffron will rise from the dead; a St. Paul Thai staple that's reopened a few blocks from its longtime home after closing in August. And you'll find some fun tweaks too, from Tii Cup's new second-floor speakeasy to the new street food shop at Eat Street Crossing.

Everybody's trying to find a way to make it work. Relatable, no? Anyway, on to the news!

Now Open

Misfit Coffee

After closing its very cool Lyndale Avenue coffee shop back in 2022, Misfit Coffee is slingin’ drinks again—this time out of its roastery/warehouse space in the Harrison neighborhood of Near North (207 N. Humboldt Ave., Minneapolis). Misfit No. 2 has pastries from Honey & Rye and all the fun, offbeat bevs that made Misfit No. 1 a blast to visit. 

Staff Meeting

Hawaiian street food meets Filipino fare at Staff Meeting, which opened this month at Eat Street Crossing food hall (replacing Ramen Shoten). They've got wings, karaage, and curries all promising serious heat, plus fried rice, loaded fries, and even some ramen.

Bom Día Treats

Açaí bowls, coffee, smoothies, and juices are all on the menu at Bom Día Treats, which is up and running in the North Loop (251 N. First Ave. Ste. 110, Minneapolis). Bom Día already has a smoothie bowl shop inside St. Paul's Quixotic Coffee; this is their second location, and first in Minneapolis. 

Fitchn

Located on the ground floor of the Bridgewater Lofts building in Minneapolis’s Mill District (1024 Washington Ave. S.), Fitchn is now serving up salads, sandwiches, grain bowls, and smoothies. The restaurant comes from Cobble Social House owner Joe Clark and Cobble Social House regular Hailie Hoschka, according to Downtown Voices, and you’ve gotta admit that’s a super cute team-up.

Ruam Mit Thai + Lao Cuisine

Downtown St. Paul’s Ruam Mit Thai opened in 1989 at 544 Saint Peter St., and in 1996, moved to 475 Saint Peter St., where it served warm curries and brothy soups until August of 2023. Now, Ruam Mit is back—this time at 367 Wabasha St. N., just a few blocks from its longtime home. Here’s to another 30-ish years on Wabasha!

Starling

Jester Concepts, the group behind Parlour/Borough, Butcher & the Boar, and P.S. Steak, just landed in Edina with Starling (4925 Eden Ave.). It has got a “globally inspired” menu with dishes like Balinese fried rice and green curry walleye, and we’re especially curious about “feasts” like the $250 Moroccan seafood boil—you’ve gotta order it two days in advance, and it feeds up to eight. 

L2 at Tii Cup

Uptown’s Tii Cup, the 10th location of the local boba chain, has a cutesy new second-floor speakeasy: L2 at Tii Cup. Located at 2645 Hennepin Ave. in Minneapolis, L2 has spiked boba, cocktails including a bloody mango margarita, and some snacks. I’m very excited to check this one out. 

Chez Annalise

There’s no THC in the baked goods at Chez Annalise, so don’t let their “cannabakery” status get ya too excited. Instead, the new shop at 6001 Lyndale Ave. S. in Minneapolis infuses its scones and cookies with CBD: “They’re not really very potent, more of a kind of relaxing, euphoric effect. We’re not out there trying to get people really inebriated or stoned,” owner Brandon Beck tells the Star Tribune. THC might get incorporated in the future, though. (And as for the “first cannabakery” claims? We’ll just leave this here.)

Niko Niko Boba St. Paul

Local bubble tea chain Niko Niko Boba just opened its first St. Paul shop at 1055 Grand Ave. The St. Paul location joins a bunch of Minnesota outposts and three in Colorado; there’s a grand opening scheduled for this Sunday, June 2.

Wakpa Bar

On May 1, Owamni debuted a new pop-up on the Wakpa patio. Enjoy beer, wine and Indigenous food—think seeds and nuts, popcorn and crickets, bison birria tacos, and smoked turkey legs—along the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis. 

Bye (e i, e i).Instagram: @italianeatery

Closed, Closing, or Changing

Protagonist Kitchen and Bar

Richfield’s Protagonist Kitchen and Bar had its final day of service on May 21. “In an era of unprecedented restaurant closures and tough times for all hospitality we decided to open a new space," co-owner Pejmon Nadimi told Racket in early 2022, shortly after the restaurant opened. 

Wuollet Bakery

Now, what is going on with Wuollet? Two of the local bakery chain’s locations—first their original one in Wayzata, and then the one in Hastings—have closed amid eviction orders. According to the Business Journal, they own nearly a million bucks in accelerated and unpaid rent in Hastings alone. Worth noting: The Wuollet family no longer runs the bakery chain, after selling to Eric Shogren (who also owns A Baker's Wife in Minneapolis, among other ventures) in 2019.

Italian Eatery

After announcing in April that their beloved south Minneapolis restaurant would close this summer, the date came up fast: This was the final week of service at Italian Eatery and sister restaurant Un Dito, with a tentative last supper scheduled for Sunday June 2. You can pick up mementos and memorabilia, with 100% of proceeds going to the staff, here.

Coming soon to Kingfield: Sebastian Joe'sInstagram: @sebastianjoes

Just Announced and Coming Soon

Dogwood Coffee St. Paul

Don’t worry, Dogwood’s St. Paul shop isn’t closing for good—they’re just moving right down the street, to the former home of Hodges Bend (2700 University Ave. W. Suite 100). The last day of service at their current home on Carleton Street is Friday, June 1; they’ll open in the new location during the first week of June, according to Instagram

Saffron

Just know this news has the foodie in your life all a-tingle: Saffron, Sameh Wadi’s popular, groundbreaking, and much-missed Middle Eastern fine-dining restaurant, which closed in 2017, will make a return. That’s according to this scoop from Mpls-St.Paul Mag, whose Stephanie March caught up with Wadi earlier this month to talk about opening Saffron, closing Saffron, and the yearslong process it’s been to bring it back. (Did you know he was just 23 when Saffron opened? Wild stuff.) No lease yet, but it’s reportedly in the works. 

Razava Bread Co.

A new bakery will open on Grand Avenue in St. Paul later this year, according to the Biz Journal, with “old-world” sourdoughs, bagels, challah, and coffee. Razava Bread Co. comes from owner Steve Baldinger, whose family has been in the bread business for more than 130 (!) years, and baker Omri Zin-Tamir, formerly of The Bakery on 22nd Street. 

Tiny Diner

Tiny Diner closed “for the season” in September, with its ownership announcing plans at the time to reopen in March. But March, you may have noticed, has come and gone, and although Bring Me the News reported in February that the Southside restaurant would reopen despite hitting the market, it… has not! A message on the TD website reads “Tiny Diner is temporarily closed. See you in May.” Which has also come and gone. Maybe June?

Mad Chicken 

Is that like mad cow? Downtown Voices reports that chicken chain Mad Chicken, which got its start in Wisconsin and has locations in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Maryland, will open its first Minnesota location in the vacant building at First Avenue North and Fourth Street North that formerly housed American Army Navy Surplus Store. 

Russell’s Bar & Grill

So Tavern on Grand still plans to close in June—that’s the bad news. The good news is that the restaurant at 656 Grand Ave. in St. Paul won’t be empty for long: Russell’s Bar and Grill, from owner Todd Russell (who also owns the building) will open there this fall, according to the Pioneer Press.

Sebastian Joe’s Kingfield Social

Gotta be the sweetest story of the year, even if it is only May: After a group of Kingfield children wrote a letter to Sebastian Joe’s asking for a neighborhood ice cream shop, they’re getting one! Their polite pestering led to the announcement that Sebastian Joe's Kingfield Social will open in the former Apoy space (4301 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis, which also houses SJ’s production facility) "by the second week of June," according to Instagram. Kudos to Southwest Voices for covering the kids’ letter back in February and getting the scoop (ice cream term) on the new shop this month. 

In the Works

As previously reported in the Racket Restaurant Roundup...

Tap In

It’s been a long, licensing drama-laden road for Tap In, the restaurant and bar heading for a former gas station on Lowry Avenue in North Minneapolis. But according to Eater Twin Cities, it’s “on the brink of opening” at 2618 Lowry Avenue North.

Tender Lovin Chix

The former Fire and Nice Alehouse spot (2700 Lyndale Ave S., Minneapolis) won’t be vacant long; MSP Mag has the scoop on Tender Lovin Chix, a food truck-turned-brick 'n' mortar from Marques (Ques) Johnson (of the short-lived CHX tendie shops) and Billy Tserenbat (of Billy Sushi). They’re looking to open in spring of 2024. 

Lynette

It was a bummer when Richfield’s Lyn65 closed to make way for an apartment complex a few years back, and it was a bummer when Riverview Cafe and Wine Bar closed indefinitely back in 2021. Good news on both fronts from Mpls. St. Paul Mag: Lynette, an homage to Lyn65 from a few of its founders, will head to the former Riverview space (3751 42nd Ave. S., Minneapolis) in spring 2024.

Crossing Bridge Noodle

Construction is underway at the old Bad Waitress building on Eat Street (2 E. 26th St., Minneapolis), where Sushi Train co-owner Kevin Ni will soon open Crossing Bridge Noodle, according to Southwest Voices. Their specialty? Crossing-the-bridge noodles, a pho-like dish made with whole chicken broth as the base.

Walkin’ Dog

Downtown Minneapolis skyway staple Walkin’ Dog is (kinda) coming back! Northstar Center shared the news on LinkedIn (LinkedIn!), saying you’ll soon be able to “enjoy dogs, malts, sides and camaraderie in an updated version of this Minneapolis classic that honors Dave & Cindy Magnuson’s legacy.” 

Jade Dynasty Restaurant and Bar

Not far from the forthcoming NY Gyro, there’s finally good news for the old Fuji Ya space at 600 W. Lake St. Southwest Voices reports that a new hot pot and dim sum spot called Jade Dynasty Restaurant and Bar is planned to open there sometime this winter. The restaurant comes from Chuen Sai “Paul” Wu and Eric Zeng, and will specialize in Cantonese dishes and authentic Asian cuisine. 

Small Hours

A new “hi-fi wine bar” from sommelier Sarina Garibovič of Ženska Glava and songwriter/musician Sam Cassidy is in the works, according to the Star Tribune. Small Hours (2201 NE Second St., Minneapolis) will have wine-adjacent snacks like bread and tinned fish, and what sounds like a very fun selection of vintage audio equipment. Look for it to open this summer. 

WildChld

Stepchld will soon get a next-door sibling: Wildchld, a cocktail bar that’s headed for 24 University Ave. NE. The Strib reports that the new bar is a collab between restaurateur Kamal Mohamed of Stepchld—which just got a full liquor license of its own to boot—and Bridgit Loeffelholz at Dampfwerk Distillery in St. Louis Park.

Tono Pizzeria + Cheesesteaks Minneapolis

Southwest Voices had the scoop on Tono Pizza and Cheesesteaks’ upcoming takeover of the long-vacant Michelangelo’s Masterpizzas space. Per our count, this’ll be Tono No. 7 in the Twin Cities—but the first one in Minneapolis.

Minari

No, not the tear-jerking, critically acclaimed film about the struggle for the American dream—this Minari comes from Daniel del Prado student Jeff Watson, per the Star Tribune. It’ll open in the old Erté & the Peacock Lounge space (323 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis), with a focus on Korean food, this summer. 

Aster House

Aster Café has long been a great place to catch live music, and now, the restaurant is going all in on it. Owner Jeff Arundel tells Chris Riemenschneider at the Star Tribune that he plans to open a new 200-capacity restaurant and venue this summer, just a block from Aster Café’s original St. Anthony Main space (which isn’t going anywhere). That gets a big hell yeah from us. 

Sculpture Garden Eats

A restaurant for the Walker’s Sculpture Garden? Total no-brainer. Kind of can’t believe there isn’t one already. Mpls.St.Paul Mag’s Stephanie March had a great scoop on the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and the Walker’s teaming up to bring this new concession stand to life.

Darling Neighborhood Café

The folks behind Peoples Organic—who also happen to have been Prince’s personal chefs—will soon open Darling in the former Birchwood Cafe space in Seward, according to Sharyn Jackson at the Star Tribune. (You may recall that the Tracy Singleton-owned Birchwood has been for sale for a while, and closed for a long while, following a dispute in which three-quarters of the staff was laid off.) It should open this spring. 

Hope Breakfast Bar North Loop + Salt & Flour + Bassett Hound 

The new North Loop Green development (that’s the big one you could watch going up from Target Field) is welcoming residents, and soon, according to the North Loop neighborhood org, it’ll have a pair of new restaurants, both from chef Brian Ingram of Purpose Restaurants. One will be another location of his already popular Hope Breakfast Bar; the second is an Italian eatery, Salt & Flour. North Loop Green will also have a new concept from Marquee Development and Levy called Bassett Hound, this one along its one-acre green space. Named for the Bassett Creek that flows beneath it, that one’s scheduled to open June 1.

La Madre 

The Vicinity, a mixed-use building on the corner of Washington Street and Park Avenue in the Mill District, is getting a bar and restaurant specializing in Mexican street food, per The Development Tracker. La Madre comes from Abe Ponce Delgadillo of La Tapatia in Roseville, and is aiming to open in late August or early September. 

Ococo

Malaysian and Thai street food is coming soon to the Minneapolis skyway, according to J.D. Duggan at the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal. Abby Sia and Eve Tha-uea are behind the new skyway spot, which should open soon at 811 LaSalle Ave. 

Barcelona Wine Bar

For Downtown Voices, Brianna Kelly has the skinny on Barcelona Wine Bar—a national chain with 22 locations in 11 states, that will open its first Midwest location this year at 508 Washington Ave. N.

The Sandwich Room at Sea Salt

It’s always an exciting sign of summer when we get an opening date for Sea Salt at Minnehaha Falls Park, but this year was extra thrilling with a scoop from Longfellow Whatever: They’re opening an adjacent sandwich shop! The Minneapolis shop comes from longtime Sea Salt manager (now co-owner) Bill Blood, who apparently some know as “Sandwich Bill.” Hell of a nickname! We look forward to Bill’s creations.

Sip Society Cafe

Uptown’s Inspire Apartments will soon get a coffee shop called Sip Society, according to the Business Journal. Expect coffee drinks, Somali tea, wraps, breakfast sandwiches, juices, and smoothies, and look for it to open in June. 

Ava

The former Stilheart space in Minneapolis's North Loop will soon be a multi-level night club called Ava, according to Bring Me the News. They’re going for a “modern discotheque atmosphere,” with light bites from chef Kamal Mohamed (Nashville Coop, StepChld, Parcelle). 

Black Duck Spirits & Hearth

The Strib has the latest on chef Jason Sawicki (Lyn 65, Popol Vuh), who plans to open Black Duck Spirits and Hearth this summer at 2900 NE Johnson St. in Minneapolis. Expect an “eclectic menu,” with smoked foods that blend Mexican cuisine with Sawicki’s Polish heritage.

Asia Village

Here’s some news that has the North Sider in your life ecstatic: The group behind Asia Mall in Eden Prairie has announced a similar concept called Asia Village slated for the Northtown Mall in Blaine (301 Northtown Drive NE). They’re teaming up with the folks behind Pho Mai and Keefer Court to bring the 130,000 square foot space to life, with hot pot, all-you-can-eat sushi, a Korean BBQ, and a grocery store. Renovations will start this August; it’s scheduled to open by late 2025. 

Catzen Coffee Bar & Den

A cat cafe and coffee lab is heading for Grand Avenue (1416 Grand Ave., St. Paul, to be exact). They’ll have lots of local treats: Dogwood Coffee, pastries from Hot Hands Pie and Biscuits, and snacks from Re-Mix Popcorn and Soul Grain granola. They'll open this fall, according to the latest update on their website.

Vinai

The former Dangerous Man building will soon house chef Yia Vang’s long awaited Hmong fine-dining restaurant, Vinai. Initially announced pre-pandemic for another location (1300 NE 2nd St., Minneapolis), Vinai is now expected to open in spring 2024. “This restaurant is about carrying on my parents' legacy,” Vang says in a press release. “But it’s also about carrying on a piece of Dangerous Man’s legacy, and the legacy of the community here.”  

Animales Brick 'n' Mortar

Here’s a meaty story for ya: Animales BBQ is looking to open in a brick-'n'-mortar building. Year-round ribs, folks! Jon Wipfli (of Animales) is teaming up with Billy Tserenbat (of Billy Sushi) to bring the place to life in either the North Loop or northeast Minneapolis.

New North Loop Project from Tim McKee

James Beard Award-winning chef Tim McKee (La Belle Vie, Sea Change, Octo Fishbar) has his eyes set on the North Loop for a new project inspired by the Basque region of Spain. He's being tight-lipped about the endeavor for now, but has revealed that it'll be somewhere on First Street and open sometime in this year. Read more via the Strib.

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