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Your Boss Has a Plan to Save Downtown Minneapolis

Plus incoming food options, rentable scooters and bikers, and large pothole saviors in today's Flyover.

4:18 PM CDT on April 12, 2023

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

Let’s Save Downtown Minneapolis by Making Work FUN!

“In early March, Twin Cities Business and Mpls.St.Paul Magazine invited a group of influential business leaders and entrepreneurs to a brainstorm session at the Minneapolis Club,” TCB EIC Allison Kaplan writes. “We called it The Big Think: For the Love of Downtown and challenged attendees to bring ideas that could help revitalize the central business district.” Oh, hell yeah, you know this is gonna be good.

And what was our civic leaders’ Biggest Thought? “Downtown Day,” a special day when downtown-based businesses require their employees to come into the office and reward them with “catered lunch or parking vouchers.” Or how about “an innovation hub” where “successful entrepreneurs or investors volunteer each week to hold ‘office hours’ when startup founders can get 15 minutes of their counsel”? Or, of course, pickleball.

There’s also an idea board that touts attractions like esports, “LARGE MONUMENTS,” and what appears to be *shudder* a “George Floyd Interactive Museum.” We at Racket are not exactly “influential business leaders” (and don’t you dare call us “entrepreneurs”) but we do have a suggestion for how to revitalize downtown Minneapolis: Maybe think of reasons people might actually want to come downtown, instead of reasons you want people to come downtown. Or simply pay them extra for the hassle.  

Coming Soon: The Viral Diner that Treats You Like Shit; Baba's Hummus

Are you looking for an interactive, mostly hostile dinner-theater experience? Then viral sensation Karen’s Diner might be for you. It’s a self-described “immersive” pop-up restaurant where you’re encouraged to act like a “Karen” and, in return, the waitstaff gets to treat you like shit. According to the press release, tickets cost “just $47” per person, which gets you a burger, some fries, and a soda, all with a side of verbal abuse. “Vegetarians, vegans, other annoying dietary requirements & non alcoholics (boringgg...) will all be catered for but don't expect Karen to be happy about it,” they note. Yeah, suck it, boring alcoholics! Tickets to the two-day event (October 14-15) can be found online, though we’re still not sure where Karen’s Diner is located other than being on South Seventh Street in downtown Minneapolis (we never heard back from the media rep about a specific address).

In less abrasive food news, Middle Eastern food brand Baba’s just announced plans to open a brick-and-mortar spot in south Minneapolis. (You might remember Baba’s for their colorful hummus stand at the State Fair last year.) The new shop will offer Jerusalem-style (extra creamy) hummus, a bakery specializing in mana’eesh (flatbread), and a market featuring Arab kitchen staples. "We wanted to create an environment that not only beautifully showcases our products and dishes, but also represents us as Palestinian Americans," says co-founder Rana Kamal, who runs Baba’s with her brother, Khalid Ansari. "For me, that means joyful colors, relaxing seating, and attention to detail throughout the space.” Baba’s is set to open in July at 2220 Lyndale Ave. S., just a block from Humm’s and the Wedge Co-op.

The Bikeshare's Back

About a month ago, Racket broke the news that there would be no Nice Ride in Minneapolis in 2023. The pioneering bike- (and then scooter-) sharing program couldn't secure the needed financial backing and, thus, shut down stations and unloaded equipment. But there's some good news: The city announced Tuesday that it's entered license agreements with three operators—Lime, Spin, and Veo—which will have bikes and scooters available to rent beginning Thursday. (That's tomorrow!)

All three vendors are bringing scooter rentals to the streets, and Lime and Veo will also offer a fleet of e-bikes. And like scooters, the bikes this year will be dockless, meaning you can drop 'em off wherever you want to end your ride; the city is installing "hundreds" of blue metal racks as docking suggestions. Here comes the but: Fox 9's Jared Goyette reports that some riders are concerned about pricing. Unlike Nice Ride, which operated for 13 years as a nonprofit, there's no annual membership option, and for-profit companies can be giddy with the fees. (Though there is an equity program similar to Nice Ride For All, which offered discounted rates to folks who needed 'em.) This new situation also means riders will need a trio of apps to access all rentable transit options, as opposed to just one.

Which Large Minnesotans Should Step Up, Fill Our Potholes?

While browsing MPR News in pursuit of a Flyover-worthy story to aggregate, we happened upon this wire report about a fed-up Arnold Schwarzenegger repairing an L.A. pothole by hand. Since Twin Citians are currently mired in pothole hell, we then wondered: Which burly local celebs should get off their duffs and pitch in like the Terminator?

Paul Bunyan jumps to mind, but he's held back by being fictional and the fact his ax, or so legend has it, carved the glorified pothole known as the Grand Canyon. Minnesota's most obvious Arnold analog is Gov. Jesse Ventura, who might actually pull a stunt like this. Right-wing crank Kevin Sorbo has the bulk; he doesn't have the civic-mindedness. Ruby Gobert, the unfortunate Timberwolves trade acquisition who stands 7-foot-1, is likely too busy swinging at teammates and buddying up to Joe Rogan. The largest Viking we're seeing, 340-pounder Khyiris Tonga, could certainly shovel some asphalt, considering he managed an impressive 35 bench press reps at BYU's pro day. Yoked Brock Lesnar and towering Kevin McHale? Maybe! Less famous Minnesota options include this record-settingly tall family from Esko, this TikTok-famous Stacy guy with a massive hand that Jay interviewed, or, remarkably for our purposes, this St. Paul woman who once competed at the Schwarzenegger-affiliated World's Strongest Firefighter competition.

Sound off in the comments: Which jumbo local should electively and single-handedly save us from potholes?

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