Uptown Changes, A Boatload of Closures, and More November Restaurant News
It's out with the old and in with the new in the latest Racket Restaurant Roundup.
11:35 AM CST on November 30, 2022
We’ve got a lot of closings in the Racket Restaurant Roundup this month—enough to have some people spiraling about the death of Uptown, of Minneapolis, and of the restaurant industry more broadly.
Two things to keep in mind before you panic. One: closures tend to be announced when a restaurant’s lease is up, which in turn tends to line up with the end of the year.
Two: In the Twin Cities, winter is the slow season, and most restaurants either bank a lot of money in the summer to make it through or take out loans to get through the winter that they pay back in the summer. (Taco Cat’s Tristan Jimerson once told me they wound up “about $60,000 in the hole” each winter—and that was just a bike-delivery taco joint.) If the cold season is fast approaching, and the math doesn’t look good, that’s a pretty good time to call it.
Or maybe it’s all Walz’s fault after all. What do I know!
And anyway, there are plenty of openings and new announcements in the roundup this month, too. On to the recent food and drink news you might’ve missed.
Arts + Rec Uptown
The new mini golf course/art gallery/restaurant/venue in Uptown's Seven Points Mall (3001 Hennepin Ave., Ste. 1230, Minneapolis), which introduced its rooftop earlier this year, has opened its indoor space. It’s got a speakeasy. It’s got a black box theater. Intimate dining booths? A full-service restaurant/bar with room for 130 guests? Buddy, per a November 10 press release, Arts + Rec has got ‘em all.
Now (sort of) open in Eden Prairie: the sprawling 16,000-square-foot market and restaurant space that is Asia Mall. Located in an old Gander Mountain (12160 Technology Dr.), the space has a big ol’ pan-Asian market and mall, and eateries include Bober Tea & Mochi Dough, Hot Pot City, and Pho Mai. Other vendors, like CrunCheese Korean Hot Dog and Snowbing Korean Shaved Ice, haven’t opened yet. We’ll have a comprehensive look at this very cool space coming soon.
Miaou Miaou and Blondette
Chef Daniel del Prado’s latest concepts, Miaou Miaou and Blondette, are now up and running in downtown Minneapolis’s Rand Tower. As we’ve previously noted, this French pair makes four openings for del Prado in 2022 (along with Bar Rufus elsewhere at Rand Tower and Macanda in Wayzata). And if a fairly scathing recent review in the Strib is to be believed... that might be a few too many.
Northeast’s latest coffee shop has been in the works for a few years now, and the wait was well worth it! We stopped by this new cutie (1231 Washington St. NE, Minneapolis) earlier in the month and loved the cozy vibe, the sunny space, and the egg salad sandwich.
Tattersall Distilling's new food vendor is Fare Game, from chef Jason Sawicki (Lyn 65, Centro, and Popul Vuh). They've got burgers, wings, birria, and more.
Backstory Coffee Roasters
Backstory Coffee Roasters has opened its new cafe in the North Loop's newly renovated Duffey building (528 N. Washington Ave., Minneapolis). We chatted with Backstory’s Micah Svejda about the new coffee shop and the new name—Backstory was previously Bootstrap—earlier this year.
Closed or Closing
Williams Uptown Pub & Peanut Bar
Racket was first to bring you the news that Williams, which had been open since the 1970s, closed abruptly earlier this month. RIP to the potentially cursed, potentially delicious spaghetti float. That news hit not long after…
announced that it too would close. A new Kim Bartmann concept is heading for the space, which her Placemaker Hospitality group has purchased. (Bartmann was most recently in the news after controversy followed her James Beard nom due to her alleged wage theft.) Which really got people into “Uptown is Dead” mode after…
Stella’s Fish Cafe
also announced that it was calling it quits after 17 years on West Lake Street. The thicc rat won.
Red Stag Supperclub
More Bartmann news: The restaurateur's Northeast supper club will close on December 31. "Restaurant owners in Minneapolis, most recently several in Uptown, have experienced a heartbreaking turn in the restaurant business with the onset of COVID-19 in March 2020, civil unrest following the murder of George Floyd, and the subsequent change in consumer habits," Bartmann said in a statement.
Asia Chow Mein
After 50 years in Columbia Heights, The husband-wife duo of Winnie and Tim Ng have decided to close Asia Chow Mein. Their son was initially going to take over, but as they explained in a lengthy and super sweet Facebook post, the times, they have a’changed.
After 37 years, the beloved Afghan restaurant closed abruptly this month. That stinks! But! There’s good news about Khyber Pass too, if you simply scroll down to the “just announced” section of this very list.
El Norte Kitchen
This popular Mexican food truck—which pioneered the concha burger before the State Fair did it—announced at the very end of last month that this season was their last. “Our family recently grew and this new chapter has made us reassess our focus and priorities,” their goodbye read. Tough to argue with that!
Zait & Za'atar
We missed this one last month, but Zait & Za’atar on Selby Ave. in St. Paul announced in a mid-October Facebook post that they would close at the end of the month. “It has been an honor sharing our love of Palestinian food and culture with you. We have enjoyed telling our story and been privileged to learn some of yours,” their goodbye reads.
Just Announced and Coming Soon
Told you there was good news about the Khyber Pass space down here! Khyber Pass owners Masooda and Emel Sherzad are teaming up with hospitality vet and beverage director Ralena Young to bring a brand new concept called Bar Cart to the space. The rebrand will be "just as chef-driven as it is cocktail-driven," Young says, according to BMTN, and will open in December.
More like Bo-new-do! The popular Argentinian pizza and empanada spot, which just moved out of its tiny original space into a bigger spot at 38th and Nicollet, is about to add two new Minneapolis locations. (This is great news for me, a person who often walks by the south Minneapolis location and goes, “Hm, too busy!”) The first proposal is for a 30-seat restaurant at 1519 Como Ave. SE, which was previously home to Oaks TW Hardware; the second is at 2935 Girard Ave. S. in Uptown, the old Sotarol Asian Kitchen space. The Biz Journal has the whole scoop.
Elsewhere in “Is Uptown dead or is it actually getting better?” news: A locally owned franchise of the Korean fried chicken brand BB*Q Chicken is heading for 1500 W. Lake St. On the menu? More than a dozen flavors of wings, if the brand’s national website is to be believed, plus ddeok-bokki, kimchi fried rice, and all kinds of other Korean favorites.
The popular food truck and popup spot Soul Lao has its sights set on a brick-and-mortar space at Sibley Plaza on West Seventh in St. Paul. “We want to build a supportive environment where young chefs can shape a career and neighbors can share a plate of Lao sausage, sticky rice, and spicy papaya salad,” Soul Lao’s GoFundMe Page reads. “There’s no other place we would want to place our roots.” The projected opening date is April 2023; you can donate to their GoFundMe here.
The Elusive Botanical Bar by Dashfire
An “experimental spirit bar” from Dashfire—makers of those tasty canned cocktails and more—is headed for the Thorpe Building in northeast Minneapolis, where Tyler Kleinow and Robb Jones (Meteor) are consulting on the menu, and Jeff Rogers (former beverage director of Jester Concepts) will run the bar. The Elusive Botanical Bar opens next month, according to Dashfire’s website; Mpls. St. Paul Mag takes you behind the scenes.
Pimento Jamaican Kitchen
Great news on Bde Maka Ska: Eat Street's wonderful Pimento Jamaican Kitchen is coming to the redesigned pavilion when it reopens next summer. Get ready for jerk chicken on the beach in 2023!
Chloe by Vincent
Vincent Francoual’s forthcoming French eatery has a name: Chloe By Vincent, after his young daughter. Per its new website, Chloe will trade in everyday French food: “Unpretentious flavors, expertly executed.” Think a wine list featuring small makers, cozy hospitality, and affordable food. It sounds really cute! They’re looking to open next month.
Vegan burger joint Francis, which made a name for itself at Sociable Cider Werks before moving into the old Sen Yai Sen Lek/Dipped and Debris space, is juuust about ready to open. They’re still finishing up construction; the latest estimate is for a late December opening.
D’s Banh Mi
The sign is up at D’s Banh Mi, which is taking over the ol’ snack shack at 38th and Cedar. Brothers Dylan, Dyon, and Dustin Tran were shooting for a November opening; we’ve reached out to the brothers D for an update. Read our chat from April about their plans for the space here.
Milly’s Wine Bar & Bistro
“My personal stake in everything is: I want gigantic cheese boards,” Milly’s Brandon Witzel told us earlier this year. “I want for you to come in and pick however many cheeses you want, however many meats, and just go to town for two or three hours, have a couple bottles of wine.” Milly’s is slated to open in early 2023, with a big ol’ lending library and lots of plant life (and yes, gigantic cheese boards).
Eat Street Crossing
Construction is still humming along over at Eat Street Crossing, the food hall heading for the long-vacant Old Arizona Studios space at 2821 Nicollet Ave. S. Last month, we got a little more info on the tenants, including Ramen Shoten. From chef John Ng and wife/ business partner Lina Goh, who make up two-fifths of the team behind the food hall, Ramen Shoten will bring a stand-up ramen shop in the small space adjacent to ESC.
Bellecour Bakery at 50th and France
The third Cooks of Crocus Hill/Bellecour Bakery is headed for 3945 Market St. in Edina, joining locations on Grand Avenue in St. Paul and the North Loop of Minneapolis. “Lots of exciting details to share with you when the time is right… stay tuned and looking forward to seeing you in our new space,” chef Gavin Kaysen wrote in an Insta post.
Diane Moua Moves On
Speaking of Bellecour Bakery: Diane Moua announced last month that she’s leaving her role as Bellecour’s executive pastry chef to open her own bakery and cafe, which will combine Hmong home cooking and southeast Asian flavors with her French pastry perfection. “You’ll see a chocolate croissant here and there, but I want to use coconut and yuzu,” she told Eater Twin Cities, which has the rundown. “It’s so French at Bellecour, but with this, I can use taro.”
Wildflyer Coffee East
Wildflyer Coffee is collaborating with the nonprofit RS Eden to open a second shop in the old Fresh Grounds Cafe space in St. Paul. “It upwardly lifts everything we do,” Kammerer told Racket of the upcoming location, which is slated to open by March. They’re 98% of the way toward their $25,000 GoFundMe goal at this writing.
Fawkes Alley Coffee
In similar youth-focused nonprofit coffee shop news: Futsal Society, an organization that acts as a lower barrier option for kids who want to play soccer, is opening a coffee shop in Loring Park. Southwest Voices has the scoop; look for an early 2023 opening.
Spot some Big Food News we missed? Email email@example.com with tips.
Previously in the Racket Restaurant Roundup…
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