Biz buzz // Smack Shack opening remains a moving target

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December 3, 2012 // UPDATED 5:48 pm - December 27, 2012
By: Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson

NORTH LOOP — The highly-anticipated opening of the Smack Shack restaurant continues to be pushed back.

A recent peek at the planned 6th & Washington location revealed little, if any construction progress. Smack Shack owner Josh Thoma could not be reached, and general manager Jon Jacklin declined to comment.

A brick-and-mortar North Loop home for the popular food truck has been in the works for some time now. Originally slated to open in June, the conversion of the approximately 7,500 square-foot vacant warehouse into a 115-seat casual dining restaurant has been repeatedly delayed.

The Smack Shack food truck just wound down its third season in downtown Minneapolis. It parks on Marquette Avenue between 6th and 7th, where it features a delicious lobster roll and shrimp po-boy, along with a host of other creative seafood creations.

If you find yourself craving some Smack Shack during the winter months, the 1029 Bar, located at 1029 Marshall St. NE, will continue to serve the Smack Shack’s menu out of its kitchen. The kitchen is open at 10:45 a.m.-11 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 10:45 a.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday, and 10:45 a.m.-9 p.m. on Sundays. The kitchen is closed on Mondays.

Now closed: Public House 

NORTH LOOP — The Public House has closed its doors for the last time.

The upscale gastropub at 700 Washington Ave. N. opened in August of 2011 and closed in early October. A message on the restaurant’s answering machine said that The Public House was closed for remodeling and would reopen in November with a new name and under new management, but that to no longer seems be the case.

Here’s a recent post from its Facebook page: “As many have speculated, The Public House has closed its doors and will no longer be open. We appreciate all the support from our customers, many of whom we’re so fortunate to call friends. Have a safe and happy holiday season — you’ll be in our hearts forever.”

The 700 Washington Avenue location has seen a host of restaurants open and close in recent years. Before The Public House closing, it was the short-lived home of the Washington Avenue Cafe and Java J’s.

The Public House was known for its extensive selection of microbrews. It is not known if there are any future plans for the Washington Avenue location.

Union takes rooftop dining to another level

HENNEPIN — Downtown Minneapolis is now home to year-round rooftop dining. Union, the new restaurant in the former Shinder’s location at 8th & Hennepin, features Minnesota’s first fully-retractable glass rooftop.

The 6,000-square-foot rooftop portion of the restaurant displays views of the Minneapolis skyline and Hennepin Avenue. It will seat up to 175 guests and have separate food and drink menus from the slightly smaller main floor dining room.

The retractable glass roof concept first originated in Turkey. Pieces of the rooftop were delivered from Germany, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Canada, and the glass was produced in southern Minnesota.

“The idea of a retractable rooftop is something I’ve had in the back of my mind for years,” said Kam Talebi, owner of Kaskaid Hospitality, which also operates Crave, Figlio and Urban Eatery. “I wanted to be able to maximize the open nature of the rooftop, and to be able to have clear views of the skyline and clear views of the sky, so to have a fully retractable system was something that was high on my radar.”

The ambitious, four-level construction project began in February 2012. It was overseen by Shea Design, which built its new headquarters on the second floor of the building, sandwiched between Union’s dining room and rooftop.

A nightclub named Marquee will take up residence in the basement, with its own separate entrance in the alley. It is fitted with several VIP booths, a large sound system, and has the capacity for 250 people. Marquee will be open from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Critically-acclaimed mixologist Johnny Michaels developed Union and Marquee’s drink menus. Michaels previously created cocktails for La Belle Vie, Cafe Maude, Mashu Sushi and Robata, Barrio and Icehouse.

Executive Chef Jim Christiansen, back from a recent stay at Noma, a world-renowned restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark, described the menu as seasonal, eclectic American cooking. Featured dishes include suckling pig, baby octopus, scallops and beef strip loin.

In addition to opening Union and Marquee in mid-November, in the last year Talebi has re-opened Figlio in St. Louis Park and expanded his Crave restaurant to Coral Gables, Florida and Cincinnati, Ohio.

“I’m going to give it a little bit of time and let things sink in a bit,” said Talebi. “It’s gonna be nice to take a little break.”

King & I Thai closing after more than three decades in business

LORING PARK — King & I Thai is closing after 32 years in business.

The restaurant at 1346 LaSalle Ave. S. is closing Dec. 17, said Gary Haanpaa, owner of the King & I.

The restaurant’s lease is set to expire and the building’s owners have other plans for the space, he said.

Haanpaa said the closing is bittersweet. While it will be nice to see the 12-hour days come to an end, he’s loved the restaurant business. He hasn’t ruled opening in other location down the road.

The restaurant had the following note on its Facebook page: ”It is with great sadness that we announce we will be closing our doors for business Monday, Dec. 17 (after 32 years!) due to circumstances beyond our control. … We want to thank everyone for your continued support and dedication over the years! It’s been a good run! Thank you again and again!!!”

Furniture shop set to POP-Up in Warehouse District

Omforme Design, an online-only dealer of rehabilitated vintage furniture, plans to open a temporary location in the Warehouse District for two weeks this December.

The Dec. 1 grand opening unveiled to the public what Omforme’s website describes as “an artful re-imagining of vintage furniture.” Omforme describes its product line as a mix of vintage goods and artistically reinvented items.

Simply called “POP-Up Shop,” the store will feature furniture items that hail from as far back as the 1970s combined with newer, high-end pieces. POP-Up Shop will also sell original work by local artist Drew Beson.

POP-Up Shop plans to donate a portion of their sales to Smile Network International, an organization that deals with procuring funds for surgeries to pay for children with facial defects. Representatives from Smile Network International will be present at the ceremony.

POP-Up Shop at 211 1st St. N., suite 150, will be open through Dec 15.

For more information, head to Omforme’s website,

R.F. Moeller on the move 

R.F. Moeller Jeweler will move to a new location within the Gaviidae Common shopping complex on Nicollet Mall early next year.

The jeweler’s 555 Nicollet Mall store, located on the skyway level of the Gaviidae Common II building, will close at the end of the year. R.F. Moeller CEO Mark Moeller said they aimed to open a new store next spring in the Gaviidae Common I building, located one block south on the 600 block of Nicollet Mall.

Moeller cited the lack of foot traffic in Gaviidae II as one of the main factors in their search of a new location.

“Neiman Marcus would be going away, which would leave us with significantly less traffic,” he said, referring to the Texas-based department store chain’s announcement last June that it would close its Minneapolis store in 2013.

Moeller described Gaviidae I — home of Saks Fifth Avenue Off Fifth, Len Druskin Man, Cocoa & Fig and other shops — as the more appealing location. The new R.F. Moeller Jeweler store is scheduled to join those shops in mid-May.

“It would be a great location for us,” Moeller said.

The family-owned business started in 1951 and currently has locations in Minneapolis, St. Paul and Edina. Discounted merchandise from all three locations was included in a sale that began at the Gaviidae store Nov. 15.

—Hemang Sharma and Sarah McKenzie contributed to this report.