Biz buzz :: Huberts to replace NBA City

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March 12, 2010
By: Gregory J. Scott
Gregory J. Scott
Hubert’s to replace NBA City

One of the most popular Twins bars from the Metrodome days is following its team to the west end of Downtown.

Hubert’s Café and Sports Bar, as much a Twins institution as Homer Hankies and “Circle Me, Bert” signs, announced on March 3 that it would open a second location in the space currently occupied by NBA City in Target Center.

The new Hubert’s opens April 2, just in time for the Twins’ first exhibition game in the adjacent Target Field.

The original Hubert’s, located at Chicago Avenue and 6th Street, has been a premier pre- and post-game destination since it opened near the Metrodome in 1983. The bar has operated for 26 baseball seasons, accommodating Twins fans before and after over 2,000 games. According to the statement, the original Hubert’s will remain open, with no changes planned for the menu or the bar.

The new location will feature 40 television screens showing a wide array of sports and a more expansive food menu that will retain many of NBA City’s original offerings. There will also be a new sidewalk café, which will open onto the new Target Plaza, leading directly to Target Field.

And as for décor, no pieces from the old bar will be removed. Instead, a new cache of memorabilia will adorn the walls of the new bar.

“We’ve got a whole new collection that’s going up at the new location,” said Hubert’s owner Steve Anderly. “We’re going to cover the whole spectrum of Minnesota sports, but there will be a lot of Twins stuff.  We’re on a fast-track to get this thing converted by [April 2].”

The move has been facilitated by hotel magnate Ralph Burnet, who, in addition to owning both Le Méridien Chambers and The W Minneapolis–the Foshay, is also the owner and chairman of NBA City Restaurants. Anderly and his co-owner Bob Jones will take partial ownership of the new restaurant, with Burnet remaining majority owner.

The Hubert’s deal marks the third time that Burnet has folded a local food and beverage icon into his hospitality empire, after bringing Manny’s Steakhouse to the Foshay and the D’Amico brothers to the Chambers.

“We’ve had other opportunities to expand our brand since we opened the original Hubert’s in the fall of 1983,’’ Anderly said in a statement. “But none appealed to us until Ralph came along. It’s a partnership that will allow Twins fans to continue to enjoy the great Hubert’s tradition.’’

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Ralph Burnet named Starwood’s ‘Developer of Year’

Earlier this month, hotelier Ralph Burnet got a big pat on the back from his parent company when Starwood Hotels & Resorts named him “2009 Developer of the Year.” The award, presented at this year’s Starwood North America Owners Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., seeks to honor an individual who, between September 2008 and December 2009, opened a hotel considered a sterling example of Starwood’s luxury brand. In Burnet’s case, the hotel was the W Minneapolis–the Foshay, which Burnet opened in the fall of 2008. But the honor also echoed the recent decision by Starwood to crown the Chambers, another Downtown hotel owned by Burnet, a flagship property for its Paris-based Le Méridien brand. Burnet has become somewhat of a darling of the worldwide hotel company, and his two hotels have boosted Minneapolis’ profile on the international travel scene.

Both the W and the Le Méridien Chambers are “spectacular properties,” said Denise Coll, president of the North America division of the Starwood Hotels & Resorts. Coll praised each project for its historic retrofitting, which preserves many touches of the hotels’ former lives as an iconic 1929 skyscraper (the Foshay) and a theater district flophouse and adult bookstore (the Chambers).

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ROBOTlove owner joins PUNY Entertainment

Kristoffer Knutson, art curator and owner of the Uptown designer toy boutique ROBOTlove, has joined the Northeast interactive entertainment studio PUNY as a managing director. The hire marks the beginning of a new, long-term collaboration between Knutson and PUNY principles Shad Petosky and Vincent Stall, one that will culminate in the permanent relocation of ROBOTlove to the current PUNY facilities, at 507 E. Hennepin Ave., in June.

A build-out planned for the PUNY space will result in a newly designed ROBOTlove retail space, Knutson said in a statement. The new retail space will allow the boutique to expand its stock to include PUNY branded products and prints.