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Read Ann Kim’s Anti-Union Messages to Staff

Plus 19 Bar fighting on, the Minnesota Marx, and dire dam disaster dispatches in today's Flyover news roundup.

Instagram: @joe_rosenthal

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

Ann Kim Wins NYT Pizza Prize, Loses More Labor-Friendly PR Points

Earlier today Ann Kim's northeast Minneapolis pizza joint, Young Joni, was named among the "22 of the Best Pizza Places in the United States," according to the New York Times. Bravo.

Shifting gears to matters of much more interest and import, on Tuesday popular Minnesota-based dining industry observer Joe Rosenthal posted leaked messages from Ann Kim and her team that were sent to unionizing staffers at Kim's, the local restaurateur's namesake Minneapolis establishment. You could describe their tone as explicitly, even frantically, anti-union.

  • "Union activity can make it rough to go to work," reads one message.
  • "It feels stressful having us divided in a way we've never seen before (it may get worse if the union is voted in)," reads another.
  • "During this chaotic time, we still see many of you working incredibly hard to give a great experience to our guests," reads yet another. "Honestly, it has been tough to be a manager at Kim's during this period. We also see how hard it is to be a nonunion supporter and show up every day ready to work."

Around 60 cooks, dishwashers, servers, bartenders, and staffers at the Uptown hotspot are scheduled to vote Thursday in an election overseen by National Labor Relations Board, one made necessary by Kim's refusal to voluntarily recognize the Unite Here Local 17-affiliated union since late May. Should worker yeas outweigh worker nays, then blammo: Kim's will officially be a union-powered workplace.

For the past two weeks, including twice yesterday, I've reached out to multiple PR reps employed by Kim. Haven't heard a peep back. But we've got an in-depth story in the works featuring workers at Kim's; they were more than happy to voice their motivations, grievances, and, as a thread throughout, desires for more equitable treatment performing jobs they love.

Bar 19 Owner Vows to Reopen

In Racket's recent scene report on LGBTQ+ nightlife, tears were shed for 19 Bar, the beloved Minneapolis gay bar that went up in flames this past March. Today, Estelle Timar-Wilcox with MPR News provided the most substantial update on the 19's fate to date. We learn that after a garbage truck rammed into a utility pole, live wires sparked a fire fueled by the gas supply at 19 W. 15th St. Mercifully, nobody was injured, though the damage caused by flames shooting upward from the basement proved substantial. “Everything had to be gutted out,” manager Craig Wilson tells MPR. “The bar itself, the bar top. It’s been gutted down to the studs.”

Wilson vows the 19 Bar will rebuild, and that insurance is covering the cost; no reopening timeline has been established, an extra bummer considering the business Pride activities would've brought this week. “I want to get the bar open again and bring everybody back, and I want to give everybody a big hug to protect them until we get there,” Wilson says, adding that the rebuilt 19 will retain its cozy and divey vibes. We encourage you to read Timar-Wilcox's full story, which gets into the bar's 70-plus-year history and various fundraising efforts for its out-of-work staffers.  

Carl Marx: Potato Chip Tycoon, Enemy to MN Workers

Carl Marx with a "C," that is. Stribber Abby Sliva went viral this morning by overserving that the familiarly named Marx created Old Dutch Foods from inside his St. Paul house at 1911 Grand Avenue. (German-born Karl Marx popularized class-conscious fighting for material economic gains with his 1848 pamphlet The Communist Manifesto, which we have to assume was also created inside of a house.) Anyway, take a gander at that plaque:

Determined to find out more our less famous, probably less bearded Marx, I plumbed the depths of the local newspaper archives, but mostly turned up 1970 obituary information; Marx had sold Old Dutch in 1952 to the Aanenson family, who still run the snack manufacturer today. Ironically, the only Carl J. Marx mentions apply to his failure to compensate the working class, this first clip from the 1940 Minneapolis Star and the second from the 1946 Minneapolis Morning Tribune—Mr. Marx, come on!

Elsewhere in chip-adjacent news, the Star Tribune's Rachel Hutton has a fun deep-dive (deep-dip?) story today on Minnesotans' love for Top the Tater, though you might prefer this very similar 2020 feature story from Racket's Em Cassel. Why are we bringing this up? Because the only appropriate chip with which to eat Top the Tater is, of course, Old Dutch Rip-L.

Dire Dam Disaster Dispatches: Pie Proprietors' Pad Plummets

The Dam Store in Rapidan, Minnesota, has been around since 1910, and the the Barnes family have run it for the past 50 years, slingin' celebrated pies and burgers. As the the Blue Earth River eats away at the nearby Rapidan Dam, the family tells NBC News they hope their quaint and beloved cafe escapes much damage.

The Barnses also own the white house (an iconic one, at least to chronic over-users of "iconic") that has been seen teetering alongside the failing, 114-year-old dam. And today, as they expected, their home fell into the raging water below. "We don’t really know what’s going to happen or what the future’s going to hold for us, but we’re holding on strong for saving our Dam Store," Jenny Barnes tells NBC News. Late Wednesday, the family told Fox 9 they fear the Dam Store will soon tumble into the river as well.

Let us go on record here: This is all tragic, and we wish the Barnses all the best; a country this rich shouldn't have infrastructure this crumbling, and dams, from an environmental standpoint, seem bad. That said, we must share the following clip of their property being swallowed by the rapids, mostly because of the aggressively Minnesota-accented tot watching on who cries "Awesome, bud!"

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