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Maple Grove’s Restaurant Row: Where Else Can You Find Sysco and (Maybe) Sisqó?

Plus MN's lawbreaking lawmakers, Italian Eatery to close, and the city of Minneapolis's Black employee problem in today's Flyover news roundup.

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Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily digest of important, overlooked, and/or interesting Minnesota news stories.

No Stove—Maple Grove!

Sometime Racket contributor and fulltime Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reporter J.D. Duggan sparked a lively debate on the dying social media site we refuse to call X the other day when he shared this snippet of an Experience Maple Grove post about the self-anointed “Restaurant Capital of Minnesota”: 

The jokes practically write themselves, and you can find a slew of them in Duggan's replies and quote-tweets. And in defense of his hometown, Maple Grove’s own Jason DeRusha responded with his own list of non-chains. As for us here at Racket, we have nothing against suburbs and their residents showing a little hometown spirit, so I say, go ahead, 'burbs, make outlandish claims for yourself! Call Fridley the Sex Capital of the North! Nothing like a little hyperbole to get folks talking. After all, when’s the last time you thought this much about Maple Grove?

Recently Arrested State Senator Is In Good Company

OK, maybe not exactly good company. But Sen. Nicole Mitchell (DFL-Woodbury), who was arrested earlier this week in Detroit Lakes and charged with first-degree burglary, is far from the first seated Minnesota lawmaker to be hauled in by the fuzz. (Read the details of her bizarre, inner-family alleged crime here.) In fact, as the indispensable Christopher Ingraham points out over at Minnesota Reformer, there are five other current state legislators who’ve been arrested: Sen. John Jasinski (R-Faribault), Sen. Tou Xiong (DFL-Maplewood), Rep. Matt Grossell (R-Clearbrook), Rep. Dan Wolgamott (DFL-St. Cloud), and Rep. Brion Curran (DFL-White Bear Lake).

What do these folks all have in common? Not party affiliation—as you can see, lawbreaking is a bipartisan activity. No, what unites them is their shared offense: All were caught driving while intoxicated. (Wait, I thought Uber and Lyft had put an end to that...) Incidentally, none of them were ejected from the legislature for their offenses, though that's exactly what Republicans—who are no doubt eyeballing the one-seat DFL majority in the Senate—think should happen to Mitchell.

Bye, IE. Ditto, Un Dito.

Bad news today on the neighborhood restaurant front. In an email this morning, the owners of Italian Eatery announced that they would soon be saying "Arrivederci."

South Minneapolis is not exactly awash in great Italian food, and it was truly impressive how IE and its Sicilian street food counterpart, Un Dito, made over an old Carbone's into something both homey and stylish (and tasty!). According to Racket reader Matt Pogatshnik stopped in for drinks this afternoon, and according to him here's what one of the owners said: “No news to report right now. We’re definitely not retiring. I wish we were retiring. Just want to give the staff time to transition.” Owners Eric and Vanessa Carrara still have St. Paul's Due Focacceria to run, after all.

"As we prepare to close our doors at ie and un dito, we'd like to extend a heartfelt invitation for you to join us for our final months of service," reads an email recently sent to past diners. "Gather with us at the table and let us reminisce over the incredible memories we’ve created together and cherish the moments shared over the past nine years." What Italian Eatery is calling "The Last Supper" will take place in late May or early June. If you’ll recall, the guy who held the original Last Supper didn’t stay dead for very long, and we’re hoping for a similar resurrection story here.

Is the City of Minneapolis Hemorrhaging Black Employees?

Twin Cities journalist Georgia Fort thinks so, and on the latest episode of her online news program, The Truth, she set out to find out why. Fort speaks to defenders of the most recent high-level Black city official to depart, Alberder Gillespie, who was fired from her role as civil rights director in February. According to Twin Cities Urban League President Marquita Stephens, a Gillespie supporter, Black women in particular having been losing their positions “in a very public and very demonizing way.” (Racket has previously reported on the exodus of talent from Minneapolis’s Division of Race & Equity.) This has been enough of an issue that Ward 2 Councilmember Robin Wonsley tried to look into the city’s HR practices; in response, Mayor Jacob Frey said that the request was “geared toward sowing discord.” Typical. You can watch Fort’s full video here.

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