NORTH LOOP — The owners of Duluth’s Fitger’s Brewhouse are planning to open a new brewpub in the former Trocaderos space.
Fitger’s parent company Just Take Action, Inc (JTA) has signed a purchase agreement for the building at 107 3rd Ave. N. Founded in 1995, Fitger’s Brewhouse has been an influential part of Minnesota’s craft beer scene for years and its beer is served at two other Duluth locations owned by JTA, Burrito Union and Tycoons Alehouse.
According to Brad Nelson, JTA’s head of marketing and PR, the expansion has been in the works for about two years and the new location likely won’t open for another year. Nevertheless, JTA is putting other projects like a new production brewery in Duluth on hold to focus on the new Minneapolis location.
“We are really excited to move down to Minneapolis and be a part of that scene,” said Nelson. “I love the bike culture, the urban culture. It’s top shelf in terms of the dining scene and becoming top shelf in terms of the beer scene nationwide. It’s so exciting for us to come down and rub elbows with that.”
The building formerly home to the Trocaderos nightclub has a 1500-seat music venue with a large mezzanine facing a central stage. The stage will be removed and replaced with the restaurant’s brewery so patrons can get an up-close look at how the beer they drink is brewed. The brewery will be the centerpiece of the room, but the rest of the building will be
largely unchanged, said Nelson. Like the Duluth location, the new restaurant will feature live music, but it will be very small scale and won’t attempt to compete with the other musical venues in the area.
“We know we don’t want to do a 1500 seat venue,” said Nelson. “We want to serve burgers and beer before and after people see music.”
The new location will serve many of the same beers and menu items as Fitger’s Brewhouse, but it likely won’t share the name. Nelson said that while all of JTA’s restaurants serve Fitger’s beer, they don’t intend to build Fitger’s into a franchise.
“Our feeling is that Fitger’s Brewhouse is a place in Duluth,” he said. “I think it will carry a different name. It will be Fitger’s Brewhouse beer poured at whatever the place is called.”
Masu looking to launch fast-casual restaurant downtown
Masu Sushi and Robata, the restaurant chain that debuted last year in Northeast and expanded to Mall of America, is looking for downtown spaces to debut a new concept. Masu parent company Sushi Avenue intends to launch a new fast-casual version of Masu in downtown Minneapolis, with the intention of rolling out similar stores around the country, said Andrea
Christenson, vice president at Cassidy Turley.
Christensen said the new chain will make custom sushi rolls. The nature of the product means the new restaurant won’t have to cook anything in the store.
“You’ll go in and say I’ll have the crab, I’ll have the avocado, and they’ll make you a custom roll,” she said.
Christensen said Sushi Avenue has several potential downtown locations identified and she expects to finalize the location of the new restaurant soon.
Gaming lounge taking old Karma space
WAREHOUSE DISTIRCT — Insert Coin(s), a Las Vegas gaming lounge and arcade, announced June 16 that it would open a second location downtown at the site of the former Karma nightclub sometime this fall.
Owner Chris LaPorte said he was close to finalizing a lease agreement.
LaPorte decided on Minneapolis because business partner Stefano M. Sinicropi, a local spine surgeon, is a resident.
He added: “You guys have it all here: Sports teams, multiple venues of bars, restaurants, clubs and a great happy hour.”
The Vegas location, which opened last year, features specially designed tables with various game consoles and games, a large selection of specialty drinks and VIP bottle service. Also available are arcade games ranging from vintage to present day.
“That’s the arcade element, then there’s the nightclub element,” LaPorte said. “We have DJs seven nights a week.”
LaPorte said he will be stopping by the Minneapolis location frequently but will be putting together a management team of some of the lounge’s original members.
“Video games are for freakin’ everybody,” LaPorte said. “This isn’t that old stigma that video games are for nerds, dorks, losers. There is no taboo to it. Having a nightclub venue with a video game touch ensures that additional entertainment value.”
The space Karma occupied has been vacant since its closing in October, brought on by a legal battle with the city to strip the bar of its liquor license after police were called 165 times in an 18-month period.
612 Brew finds home in Northeast
NORTHEAST PARK — Northeast will soon have another brewery in its ever-growing ranks. 612Brew has announced that it has signed a lease in The Broadway, an office/retail restoration at 945 Broadway St.
The historic building was recently purchased by Peter Remes, who also restored the Icehouse building near 26th & Nicollet.
612Brew will serve as the anchor tenant in the building and feature a taproom and production brewery.
612Brew was one of the first companies to announce plans for a Minneapolis-based brewery in the recent craft beer explosion and looked at several other locations for a brewery before landing on space in The Broadway. The company hopes to have the taproom open and growler sales in place by the fall, with beer in liquor stores within a year. The taproom will
also include a menu of Indian street food.
612Brew president Adit Kalra said the company will focus on “session” beers, which have lower alcohol content than many of the styles currently popular with the beer community. The company will launch with two beers, an American pale ale called Six and a Rye Imperial Pale Ale called Rated R. The company will also make several limited edition beers available exclusively at the taproom.
“We’re proud to be a part of the craft beer scene in Minnesota,” said 612Brew marketing director Ryan Libby said in a statement. “States like California, Oregon, Washington and Colorado support hundreds of small and independent breweries. We’re excited that Minnesota is growing into a formidable beer state as well, and we look forward to adding the ‘Brew
District’ distinction to Northeast Minneapolis, just as it is the Arts District.”
Kitsune Cycles to become Alley Cat Cycles
LORING PARK — The fox is becoming the cat.
Kitsune Cycles, the year-old bike shop at 1621 Harmon Place, is changing its name to Alley Cat Cycles. Owners Cali Jirsa and Roger Koelker are changing the name after the departure of the original third partner, who is departing to start a bike shop on the West Coast.
Kitsune is Japanese for fox. The shop historically carried a lot of Japanese bike frames and parts, as well as BMX bikes and fixed-gear bikes. The new name Alley Cat Cycles is not only easier for customers to remember, but also reflects the shops location on Harmon place, the narrow, alley-like street behind Loring Corners.
“We want to be a little more accessible,” said Jirsa. “It’s in the alley and there’s a couple of cats working on bikes.”
As Alley Cat Cycles, the shop will focus on finding the best biking equipment for each individual customer.
“Our mission has always been to focus on customizing our service,” said Koelker. “Whether you’re spending five dollars or thousands you’ll get the same attention.”
Aussie’s Kebabs join the street food scene
Don’t let the name fool you, Aussie’s Kebabs doesn’t serve food on sticks.
The new street food vendor managed by recent Art Institute of Minneapolis graduate Jesse Schultheis specializes in doner kebabs, a flatbread sandwich that is popular around the world. Aussie’s Kebabs doner kebabs resemble gyros, with chicken, mushrooms or lamb and beef served with lettuce, onion tomatoes and optional sauces. Aussie Kebab’s are put into a
sandwich press to give them a nice crispy exterior, which is the Australian style.
“Doner kebabs are the Turkish word for gyro, but what we do is the Australian take on it,” said Schultheis.
Aussie’s Kebabs was founded by Chris Millner, who discovered doner kebabs while studying in Australia. Upon returning to Minnesota, he raised part of the money for the cart via online fundraising service Kickstarter. Millner hired Schultheis to run the small cart, which can usually be found on Marquette Avenue.
Schultheis said that business in the opening weeks was strong and that he’s excited to introduce doner kebabs to Minnesota. The cart’s sauces offer customers the choice to eat their sandwiches like a traditional gyro with tzatziki sauce that is made fresh daily. Other customers may opt to have theirs in the Australian style, with a spicy chili sauce instead. Of
course, finding the right level of spice for Minnesotans is a work in progress.
“In our first two reviews, one person said our sauce was too spicy and the other said it wasn’t spicy enough,” said Schultheis.
HiFi Hair now open
LORING PARK — A portion of Olson’s former home is now the site of HiFi Hair, a new music-themed salon owned by stylist Jonny Zygomatic. The new salon opened in late April at 1637 Hennepin Ave. S. and offers hair treatments and facial waxing.
“Nothing goes better with fashion than music, since it’s pretty much dictated fashion for the last 60 years,” said Zygomatic.
The new salon is filled with posters of artists like David Bowie, Iggy Pop, The Suburbs and many more. While it definitely has a punk-rock vibe, Zygomatic said his goal with the business is be welcoming to all types of customers.
“The notion was to create something that is edgy yet nostalgic,” he said. “Come in, get your hair done, have a really good time.”
HiFi Hair is open Tuesday through Sunday. For more information, visit hifihair.com
--- Patrick Roche contributed to this report.