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The ‘Pawn Stars’ Were at Matt’s Bar This Morning—and We Know Why

Plus Big Ag's big thirst, prisoners protest 'pizza oven' conditions, and a whole mess of food news in today's Flyover news roundup.

4:59 PM CDT on September 5, 2023

Tracy Maher on Twitter|

Have you seen these men?

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.

How Much Would You Offer for This Jucy Lucy?

When three men who appeared to be Rick, Coree, and Chumlee of Pawn Stars were spotted outside of Matt’s Bar in south Minneapolis today along with a cameraman, Racket had to investigate. (In other words, I, Keith, who live a block away, had to walk over there.) The burger joint’s general manager, Amy Feriancek, eagerly gave me the scoop. The boys are in town shooting their new series, which is a little like the regular Pawn Stars, but with a twist. Where usually the possessors of possibly valuable items travel to their shop, the World Famous Gold and Silver in Las Vegas, now the Stars are hitting the road themselves and meeting up with people on their own turf—and the series finale will take place in Minnesota.

The bulk of the episode will be shot at “a mansion in St. Paul,” Feriancek told me, but to add some local Minnesota color they swung by Matt’s to shoot some b-roll and scarf some Jucy Lucys. (“Each ate almost two.”) “I am a superfan,” Feriancek said. “I had to settle down.” She says they called Matt's Lucy "the GOAT burger," and she praised their unscripted chemistry and admitted to being uncharacteristically "starstruck." The fellas also visited the State Fair over the weekend, where they were too mobbed by fans to get any shooting done—there’s a reason they’re called Pawn STARS, I guess. So they snuck unannounced into Matt’s before business hours this morning, completing their filming in two hours.

Gulp: Big Ag Drying Out MN

Exhibit No. 5,392 of "Why Aren't Our Big Local Newsrooms Doing This Type of Longform Feature Reporting?": Saturday's New York Times deep dive into large Minnesota farms collectively pumping "at least 6.1 billion gallons more groundwater than allowed under state permits" during the drought of 2021. The biggest culprit is Fargo, North Dakota-headquartered R.D. Offutt Farms, which accounted for almost one-third of that overuse to produce a uniquely American product: the potatoes used for McDonald's French fries. R.D. Offutt pumped from 500+ wells that summer and, bafflingly, our state relies on the honor system for well-use reporting. Not ideal! And it doesn't bode well for the future, Minnesota DNR hydrologist Ellen Considine tells the Times: "We have this really intensive groundwater use, expanding to aquifers we don’t yet understand very well, in places where domestic wells have never had to compete for groundwater… we may not be leaving enough groundwater for future generations.” We encourage you to drink in the entire depressing story.

MN Inmates Protest Hellish, “Pizza Oven” Conditions

On Sunday, over 100 inmates in Minnesota Correctional Facility-Stillwater refused to return to their cells during an impromptu protest of what they describe as unlivable conditions. “It is a 100-year-old building with no air conditioning, no central air,” prison reform activist Kevin Reese tells the AP. He would know; he was incarcerated there from 2006-09. “The walls actually sweat,” he says of the “pizza oven” conditions. According to protestors, prisoners were in lockdown status due to low staff numbers this holiday weekend. With temps nearing 100 degrees, they had limited access to showers, recreation areas, and water, which inmates say is often brown and undrinkable anyway (the Minnesota Department of Corrections pushed back against that claim). The protest ended peacefully, but the "pretty miserable" conditions MPR reported on back in July? They persist for inmates and staffers. The correctional officers’ union, AFSCME Council 5, claims staffing is a big part problem, stating that these types of incidents are “endemic and highlights the truth behind the operations of the MN Department of Corrections with chronic understaffing.”

Mini Restaurant Roundup! 

Loads of food news occurred over the handful of days, all of which we’ll make palatable via this quick-hit recap. Sadly, Tracy's Saloon & Eatery in Seward, for our money one of the best bars in town since 1979, announced its impending closure last Friday. “Tracy will be retiring and moving to the hellscape that is Del Boca Vista, Florida,” reads an update from the bar’s Facebook account. “We hope you enjoyed coming here as much as we enjoyed serving you!” The TBD closing date is slated for “sometime in September.” Elsewhere, Powderhorn’s "Tiny Diner is struggling financially, and rather than risk permanent closure, we are resetting the table, doing some painting and fixing, and making plans to re-open in March of 2023,” reads a press release from contentious restaurateur/noted wage thief Kim Bartmann. (Never forget her “I DID” graffiti retort outside Tiny Diner.)

How about some happy news? How about two happy news items? First up, as reported by Southwest Voices: Minnesota spice pioneer Harry Singh will soon make his triumphant return to Eat Street; a broken foot and tax troubles sidelined Harry Singh's Original Caribbean Restaurant for almost a year. And, finally, a new tenant might be arriving soon at the ol’ Vo’s spot on Lyndale Avenue, per the Minneapolis-St. Paul Biz Journal: Burnsville used car dealer Manouchehr Dousti purchased the building for $400,000 last month, and he hopes to reopen the restaurant as a Mediterranean joint.   

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