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Food & Drink

Wanna Buy the Iconic Snack Shack on 38th Street?

Dave's Popcorn became Milk Jam Ice Cream & Hot Dogs four years ago. Now it can be yours for $200K.

The ol' snack shack.
Coldwell Banker Realty

The hot dog experiment is over at 1848 E. 38th St. in south Minneapolis.

Just four summers after reimagining Dave’s Popcorn as Milk Jam Ice Cream & Hot Dogs, brothers Sameh and Saed Wadi of Milkjam Creamery and World Street Kitchen are ready to move on. Their 280-square-foot shop hit the market Monday for $200,000.

“Fantastic opportunity to get into the food service business,” reads the property listing from Anders Priley at Coldwell Banker Realty. “The building sees over 6,700 cars daily and has benefited from its close proximity to Cedar Avenue and a neighborhood that has been loyal and supportive of local businesses.”

Included in the sale? Basically every space you see in these photos, plus a staff bathroom and new water heater. No word on whether the restaurant equipment is thrown in. We reached out to Sameh and Priley for additional details, but didn’t immediately hear back.

The Wadis’ business partner, Aaron Day, purchased the property for $140,000 in 2018, according to county records. Carmel corn got swapped out for kimchi-topped dogs; standard-issue ice cream moved aside for inventive flavors like PB Vs. Everybody (peanut butter banana with Oreo chunks). Originally built in 1951, the structure was in rough shape when Milk Jam took over, Sameh told the Star Tribune: “There was a leak in the roof, and when we went to fix it we found an original sign that had been chopped up and used as roofing material. No wonder it was leaking.”

The Wadis also shut down their fun St. Paul seafood joint, Grand Catch, this past April.

The Dave’s Popcorn brand traces back 105 years to a small stand owned by Dave Lynd at Cedar Ave. & Minnehaha Pkwy., which became a neighborhood landmark until its demolition in 1963. The biz would re-emerge a few years later under new ownership at 1848 E. 38th St., and frequently change hands over the years. In 1981, incensed owner Helen Princell wrote to the Minneapolis Star regarding a sub-optimal review: “How can your testers expect to taste the subtle flavor of our un-buttered corn, washing it down with beer, etc.?” Until Milk Jam’s recent makeover, the exterior sign was always punctuated by “IN THE OLD TRADITION OF DAVE’S.”

Previous owner Andy Gray, a pastor at nearby Urban Refuge Church, acquired the snack shack in 2015.

“My three kids have graduated, one of ’em moved outta town, so my family labor force is not available,” he told me before selling the place in ’18. “[Dave’s] feels like it’s a neighborhood treasure, people really wanna see it stay open. We get nostalgic stories all the time, all kinds of fantastic stories.”

Gray was a guardian of the old popcorn recipes and, at one point, machinery. Perhaps he can be of assistance if a new owner wants to resurrect Dave’s.

Either way, real south Minneapolis kernel-heads can always lean on Tom’s Popcorn Shop at 47th & Cedar—they’ve been popping since 1971.