Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily midday digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.
Star Tribune Food Critic to Beloved Local Delicacy: Fuck Off!
We’re still getting familiar with Jon Cheng’s approach. The Star Tribune restaurant critic started last November, replacing 23-year vet Rick Nelson. His Insta lists seven home bases; his LinkedIn suggests he still works in food marketing at General Mills; and his solo byline has appeared infrequently—just under 20 times. Today, with knowing incredulity, Cheng revealed that he’d ascended to the top food-writing gig in town without ever tasting a Jucy Lucy. His next move was even more bold: Cheng tore into his first four molten burger pockets, our region’s highest culinary contribution, and ranked ‘em accordingly. Matt’s Bar, the presumed dive-y champ that once served President Obama, came in dead last. “If only the patty were juicier—both my dining companion and I agree that the meat is rough and dry,” he wrote, sacrilegious scorn dripping like so much gooey American cheese. The 5-8 Club (Matt’s blood rival), Blue Door, and The Nook all ranked higher, though, in a shocking textual thrust of his middle finger, Cheng concludes that the Jucy Lucy doesn’t merit a fifth sampling: “Will I return for the Juicy Lucy? It is a one and done affair.” (Rest assured: Racket will always, always pander to you beautiful swine.) Tune into Jason DeRusha’s program at 4 p.m. to hear the newish Strib food dude explain himself.
St. Paul Council Set to Gut Rent Control
Remember the bold rent control ballot initiative St. Paul voters passed last year, capping rent increases at 3% annually? Well, hold on to that memory, because strict rent control may soon be nothing more than that: a memory. According to the Minnesota Reformer, St. Paul City Council is set to vote on a package next week that would severely limit the reach of the new ordinance, a boon to developers and landlords. Spooked by a dip in new construction, the council plans to grant a whopping 20-year exemption for new developments. They would also OK vacancy decontrol, which means once a tenant moves out, a landlord can jack up rent as much as desired. The new ordinance would explicitly allow increases for inflation, and end rent control for low-income properties. Of course, the city is already rubber-stamping individual exemptions to the ordinance, and a law is only as strong as its enforcement.
MN Lawmaker On Becoming Lifetime Member of the Oath Keepers: Whoops!
On Wednesday, the Anti-Defamation League published the leaked names of thousands of members of the Oath Keepers, a far-right, anti-government militia. Watch groups had estimated that membership was probably around 5,000, though the data leak suggests it’s more like 38,000—about 514 of them from Minnesota. Six work in law enforcement, three are military, and one is an elected official. This afternoon, the Minnesota Reformer revealed that the lone elected official is GOP state representative Donald Raleigh of Blaine. “Their pitch [in 2013] was for veterans,” Raleigh told the Reformer, noting that he denounces the group and does not consider himself a member. “One of the things that caught my eye was a signup packet that was designed by or packaged by disabled veterans. It seemed innocuous to us.” (The Reformer’s Christopher Ingraham notes that the ADL considered the Oath Keepers an “anti-government extremist group” as early as 2012.)
Raleigh claims he only became a lifetime Oath Keepers member as part of market research for his company, TrustVets, which links vets to job opportunities; he provided emails demonstrating that he signed up for several veterans’ groups at the time. “We wanted to know what interesting cool marketing they were doing,” he says. While it’s clear Raleigh doesn’t align with the Oath Keepers today, it’s also really interesting, cool, and, perhaps most importantly, easy to never accidentally join fringe militias that eventually storm the Capitol.
Downtown Minneapolis: Bacon is Out, Vincent is In
For 14 years, Chef Vincent Francoual ran Vincent, a Restaurant, a dramatically named French bistro on Nicollet Mall that was known for its burger. Now, seven years after closing, Francoual has announced he’s opening another downtown eatery. This as-yet-unnamed project will be taking over 700 S. Third St. (adjacent to the Canopy by Hilton Minneapolis Mill District Hotel). The space was formerly occupied by Bacon Social House, a Colorado chain that offered super salty slabs of pork and, oddly enough, a pretty decent veggie burger. Francoual, who has been working at new American cafe EaTo lately, says he plans to offer French casual at the new restaurant. “I believe that French food and a French restaurant can be a casual concept, as is the case with other ethnic food, and can be served in a way that is more carefree and incorporates shareable dishes,” says Francoual via press announcement. French food: It CAN be casual! With U.S. Bank Stadium a few blocks away, we hope casual means this spot is also going to be a Vikings bar.