Biz buzz :: The Forum

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February 1, 2010
By: Gregory J. Scott
Gregory J. Scott
New restaurant to open in former Goodfellows space

A former executive at Cargill is opening a new restaurant in City Center, taking over the space previously occupied by Goodfellows. The new restaurant, called The Forum, will blend comfort-food favorites and traditional chop house fare. It will also offer a “changing destination menu” that every month highlights a different culinary tradition from a region of the United States. Chef Christian Ticarro, executive chef at the Canyon Grille in Coon Rapids, will head the kitchen. The opening is planned for early April.

The Forum takes over one of Minneapolis’ most historic spaces, the old Forum Cafeteria, which operated from the 1930s to the 1970s. The space was most recently occupied by Goodfellows, a white-tablecloth institution of the Twin Cities high-end dining scene that closed in 2005.

The Forum is one half of a pair of ambitious projects conceived by first-time restaurateur Jim Ringo. The other half is Ringo’s, an upscale-casual restaurant specializing in global cuisine that will open in St. Louis Park as early as late March. Both restaurants are owned by Ringo Restaurants Inc., a new company formed by Ringo and his wife Stefanie.

Ringo is a former general manager and vice president at Cargill, where he worked for 20 years before leaving in 2009. He has stated that he wants to leverage his extensive corporate managerial experience to get around traditional restaurant problems. One innovation planned is to have Ticarro act as both chef and general manager, responsible for hiring and firing servers and floor managers. Ringo also wants to work more closely with suppliers Sysco and U.S. foods, where he currently has test kitchens operating on site.

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Vescio’s Trattoria opens in skyway

Vescio’s, Minneapolis’ longest-running family-owned Italian restaurant, opened a new location in the skyway system on Jan. 11, moving into the old Café di Napoli space in the Six Quebec building at Marquette Ave and 6th St. S. Called Vescio’s Trattoria, the new location is a quick-service lunch spot, offering a small menu of homemade soups, salads, sandwiches, flat-bread pizza and a build-your-own pasta bar. Most items run between $4 and $7. Hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The original Vescio’s opened in 1954 in Dinkytown, where it still stands as a campus dining institution. A second location, Vescio’s Cucina, opened in St. Louis Park in 1983. The business has always been run by members of the Vescio family, and founder Frank T. Vescio’s son Fred Vescio will manage the skyway location. Fred’s brother Frankie, his son John and his nephew Tony are also involved in the operation

The smaller, value-oriented menu was inspired by the success of Vescio’s food stands at the State Fair, which the restaurant has attended since 1972. According to Fred Vescio, the most popular items so far have been the stuffed conchiglie shells, which come in meat and vegetarian options, and the flat-bread pizza — a dish originally developed by Fred’s son John for a wine tasting event at the Dinkytown location.

But the trademark is unquestionably Vescio’s renowned sauce.

“You can’t have a great Italian restaurant if you don’t have a great meat sauce,” said Fred Vescio.

Though designed as a quick spot to grab lunch, the skyway location provides ample seating for eating in, including rows of high-backed booths and tall tables.

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FinnStyle opens expanded store

FinnStyle, the Finnish design boutique in Gaviidae Commons, has announced plans to move into a freshly renovated new space at 160 Glenwood Ave. near the farmers’ market. Store manager and native Finn Elina Ruppert will host an opening reception with food and drink at the new location on Feb. 10.

The move is an attempt to consolidate under one roof the merchandise from both FinnStyle’s skyway boutique and its shipping warehouse in Golden Valley. Since FinnStyle has done much of its business through its website, finnstyle.com, the boutique has kept the bulk of its offerings in the warehouse, explained sales associate Sue Harstad. This sometimes caused shortages in in-demand items like iittala glassware and the popular brand Marimekko.

“Finnish design needs plenty of space to be appreciated,” Ruppert said. “I am excited that our new store will be nearly twice as large as our Gaviidae location.”

A free parking lot will make the new store more accessible for shoppers, too, Harstad said — an obvious advantage over the boutique’s skyway location. “It will be nice for folks who want to linger a bit.”

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Edina-based designer opens showroom in IMS

Sharon Allemong, owner of the Edina design studio Insite Interiors, has plans to move into a 1,300-square-foot showroom in International Market Square. Called The Sale Room @ IMS, the showroom will specialize in designer furniture, decorative accessories, textiles, rugs and lighting, all available for purchase directly by the public. Hours will be Thurs., Fri. and Sat. 9 a.m.–5 p.m. The opening is set for March 4, and parties involving the local design community are planned for earlier that week.

Many of the pieces for sale will actually come from other showrooms already in IMS, said Susie Eaton Hopper, a spokeswoman for Allemong. With limited space in these other showrooms, designers in the past often had to move pieces into storage in order to free up room for new inventory. With Allemong’s large facilities, these designers can now sell these pieces directly to consumers at The Sale Room. Discounts are expected to be 50 percent or more off of suggested retail prices.

“Really, there’s never been anything like this at IMS,” Hopper said. “The designers are very excited.”

Pieces will be arranged in tasteful vignettes, Hopper added, “just like in someone’s lovely home.” New merchandise will arrive every week, images of which will be posted on a website.