Biz buzz: Len Druskin

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October 12, 2009
By: Amanda Kushner
Amanda Kushner

Len Druskin opens two new concept stores

Retailer Len Druskin is listening to customer’s positive feedback and opening two new stores Downtown this fall, said Michael Druskin, CEO and lead buyer. Len Druskin Man opened in 2007, but Druskin said he always wanted a more complete Downtown experience.

LD Len Druskin women’s store opened in Gaviidae Common II on Oct. 8. Len, which will offer discounted merchandise, will open in early November in City Center. Len is the new value brand, and the Len Druskin Outlet will also convert to a Len next year. The name Len was chosen because new products are coming in and the company wanted to rebrand to make it simpler for the customer to understand, he said.

The Len stores will have a small section of the Len Druskin Outlet.

Len stores have five concepts. While there is similarity between products carried, the products are tailored toward the customer, Druskin said. He said if two stores have the same name they should have identical products, and this gives Druskin the opportunity to be innovative, he said.

“We believe that the Downtown market definitely has shown support for our men’s store, and we have listened to all the feedback,” he said. “We want to offer the complete Len Druskin experience.”

Druskin is a Downtown resident and said it is nice to offer the city more retail shopping and support the community.

“By being a local company that can adjust to the market specifically and have specific stores catered to the Downtown market you can be successful,” he said.


Isaac Becker decided 10 years ago that he wanted to open a pasta restaurant, and his wife, Nancy St. Pierre, said that’s what he likes to cook at home. Bar La Grassa, 800 N. Washington Ave., opened Oct. 6 and serves 10 fresh and 10 dried pastas. The couple, who also own 112 Eatery, is opening Bar La Grassa with Josh Thoma, a restaurateur involved in La Belle Vie, Barrio, Smalley’s Barbeque and Solera.

Bar La Grassa means the fat in Italy in the Emilia Romagna and Bologna areas, which is where tortellini comes from,
St. Pierre said.

They wanted a location near the 112 Eatery because they love the Downtown area, and St. Pierre liked the warehouse feel with the timbers in the old Babalu space, which had a natural beauty, she said. The restaurant has a regular bar that people can eat at, and it has a pasta bar where customers can watch the cooks, she said.

The restaurant is making its own raviolis and tortellini stuffed pastas, and while they are hard to make Becker thinks it is worth it to spend the time, St. Pierre said.

The restaurant’s pastas are $5­–$18 and shared entrees are around $30.


Bob Schmitz has been paddling and rowing the Mississippi River above St. Anthony Falls for the past six years, but he said he never sees anyone out on the river. So he opened Above the Falls Sports, 20 N. 3rd Ave., at the end of August to promote the use of the city’s underused asset — the Mississippi river. Above the Falls Sports sells, rents and stores boats, offers instruction, group tours and trips for people interested in kayaking, canoeing and rowing, he said. Above the Falls Sports has a sister company in the Baja and will offer winter trips, Schmitz said. He hopes to offer trips to sculling (rowing) schools and other kayaking destinations. Schmitz chose to open in the North Loop because he lives in the neighborhood but also because after surveying the neighborhood he found people aren’t using that section of the Mississippi due to a fear of the falls. He is therefore working to make people feel safe and comfortable on the river. Schmitz has been rowing for over 50 years. The best way to contact Above the Falls Sports is by calling 825-8983 or

A Sarpino’s Pizzeria, 1028 S. Washington Ave., is scheduled to open on Nov. 1. It’s the first location to open in Minneapolis. Owner Jeff Sabev said it’s gourmet pizza made fresh and is rich on ingredients. Sarpino’s also offers Italian meals including lasagna spaghetti and linguini, and Italian desserts including tiramisu and cheesecake.