Biz buzz :: Spatial wedding for ROBOTlove, Pink Hobo

Share this:
June 21, 2010
By: Gregory J. Scott and May Tobar
Gregory J. Scott and May Tobar
The deal to merge Kristoffer Knutson’s ROBOTlove with the Pink Hobo gallery in Northeast may have taken a few months to unfold. But the decision on who would handle the space’s redesign was immediate.

“I knew right away,” said Knutson. His designer toy shop needed to squeeze into a building already housing a gallery and an interactive agency, and he wanted Jonathan Gomez Whitney to wield the shoehorn.

Gomez Whitney, a local artist and designer, has carved out a niche in recent years by arranging spectacular redesigns for retail spaces. He’s done Oh, Baby, the Galleria’s posh toddler apparel shop; Status, Uptown’s high-trend sneaker dealer; and Life Style, a couture boutique in Robbinsdale.

Knutson and Gomez Whitney had collaborated before, on the design of an art installation that Knutson helped book in the Soo Visual Arts Center, which had been located next door to the previous ROBOTlove.

For the new shop, Gomez Whitney said he wanted “everything to kind of levitate.” Some low shelving and a number of display cases float a foot off the floor on invisible supports. There is a featured space for designer T-shirts, new shelving for the store’s book collection and a beautiful bank of glass cubbies behind the counter that showcase collectible figurines.

The new ROBOTlove is planning a grand opening for mid-July.


Details still vague in Psycho Suzi’s/Gabby’s deal

Excitement over a bigger, badder Psycho Suzi’s in Northeast seems to have cooled a bit after the news broke in early May that the punk rock tiki lounge had eyes on Gabby’s riverside bar. The move is apparently still on. But as to when, the jury is still out.

“I keep hearing rumors that she’s bought us already, and it’s so far from happening,” said Gabby’s owner Jeff Ormond, referencing reports that Suzi’s owner Leslie Bock had signed a purchase agreement for the Marshall Street bar. “Right now nothing’s even close.”

When asked if Gabby’s would reopen elsewhere if and when the deal goes through, Ormond declined to comment.

Bock seemed a little more certain in discussing her near future.

“I can tell you that both parties have signed a purchase agreement for Gabby’s,” she said. “Things can and do go wrong before a closing. I am in talks with city officials, and the talks have been encouraging. We are awaiting necessary approvals.”

Boch owns the property where Pyscho Suzi’s sits (she also owns the popular Donnie Dirk’s Zombie Den in North Minneapolis). She said she’s currently looking for a buyer, but has a new concept in the works for the Psycho Suzi’s space in case she does hold onto the bar.

“Fortunately, I am not lacking for concepts at the moment,” she said. “I am lacking time management skills.”


Dunn Bros opens on Nicollet Mall

Dunn Bros Coffee is opening a new coffee shop in the Young Quinlan building at 9th & Nicollet.

The store is slated to open July 8 and a grand opening celebration is scheduled for the weekend of July 15. During the grand opening day, Dunn Bros will be providing free coffee, $1 specialty drinks, and $5 half-pound whole bean coffee. The first 100 customers on July 15 will receive a free Dunn Bros gift card ranging from $2–$25.

The menu will be similar to other Dunn Bros stores, offering coffee beverages, oatmeal, soups, salads, paninis and sandwiches. The new Infinite Black Iced Coffee will also be available.

The new Dunn Bros will be open Monday–Friday, 6 a.m.–6 p.m.; Saturday 7:45 a.m.-–2 p.m.; and Sunday 10 a.m.–2 p.m.

For more information, visit their website at


OLSON merges with Denali Marketing

Loring Park-based advertising agency OLSON has merged with Denali Marketing, making it one of the top 10 full-service marketing firms in the country and the largest in the state.

OLSON now boasts 300 employees.

OLSON has been a part of the Minneapolis community for more than15 years, and has worked to build and activate brand communities by managing advertising, social media, public relations, design and strategy.

The agency has been one of the fastest growing companies in the Twin Cities.

“We scoured the nation for someone to partner up with, and Denali ended up being the perfect fit and they were right down the street here in Minneapolis,” says Kevin DiLorenzo, president and CEO of OLSON. “We are on a quest to build the agency of the future. This [merge] redefines the industry and creates a platform that really hasn’t been done before.”

Margaret Murphy, co-founder, of Denali said the companies shared common values so a merger made sense.

“This is a big story because we are both entrepreneur companies at heart. We want the community to feel the energy behind this accelerated growth path,” Murphy said.

OLSON now represents more than 30 clients including Wyndham Hotels, Toys R Us, Target, General Mills, Optumhealth, 3M, Memorex, and Minnesota state lottery.

For more information on OLSON and their recent merge, visit or


Dahl Pharmacy ends 98-year run Downtown

Tim Markson’s storied, mom-and-pop pharmacy, at 12th Street and Nicollet Mall, has sat closed for about two months now, shuttering just shy of the business’ 100-year anniversary. The pharmacy occupied the space on Nicollet Mall since 1985.

Owner Tim Markson posted a letter on the empty stores window as an explanation to customers. Citing “the ever-changing demands” of insurance companies and government programs, “low reimbursements” and “slow reimbursements,” Markson said in the letter that running an independent pharmacy has simply grown too financially difficult. He and several other associated with Dahl have accepted jobs at CVS Pharmacy, at 11th Street and Hennepin Avenue, where customers’ prescriptions have been transferred.

The Dahl Home Medical Supply store, next door to the old pharmacy, remains open.


Belle Reve closes

Belle Reve, a high-end women’s clothing store that enjoyed a strong following amongst Downtown’s corporate fashionistas, has closed.  

The shop was a relative newcomer to the increasingly boutique East Hennepin area, taking over the old Denny Kemp Salon space at 320 E. Hennepin Ave. in 2008. A two-day, everything-must-go sale was held June 7 and 8.


Frypan Digital debuts with skyway map application

One of the most vexing problems facing a Downtown pedestrian — finding your way through the knotty, 8-mile labyrinth that is the Minneapolis skyway system — has
triggered the birth of a
new company.

In the first week of June, Frypan Digital, an iPhone application development company started by a physical therapist and an IT recruiter, unveiled its debut product: Minneapolis Skyway, a GPS-powered skyway navigation tool for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.

Minneapolis Skyway provides a map of the skyway system, along with a searchable list of all of the businesses located in its elevated corridors.  

The GPS system shows both the user’s location and any chosen destination. Pinpoints can be dropped onto the map and saved, allowing for the creation of breadcrumb trails back to your parking spot. The application is free of charge.

Frypan co-founders John Haddad (the physical therapist) and Casey Holley (the IT recruiter) had talked about developing an iPhone application for a while. But like all entrepreneurs, they wanted to isolate that perfect underserved need.

“We just wanted to solve a common problem that a lot of people have,” said Frypan co-founder John Haddad, the physical therapist. “You walk around in the skyways, you just see people looking around trying to figure out what street they’re by.”

Haddad and Holley, who had never developed an application before, did all of the cartography themselves.

“The map is custom drawn-up,” said Haddad. He and Holley spent several afternoons walking the skyway and painstakingly noting the location of each business. “Of the eight miles of skyway, we logged it all, logged everything, and we were able to meet a lot of really neat people along the way.”  

Haddad and Holley disseminated Minneapolis Skyway through social media outlets, and the response has been enthusiastic. In the first two weeks after its launch, Haddad estimates that Skyway Minneapolis has been downloaded about 1,000 times.