Biz buzz :: Subo closes

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October 11, 2010
By: Gregory J. Scott
Gregory J. Scott
Subo closes, Strip Club owners plan to takeover space

DOWNTOWN CORE — Less than a year into its existence, Filipino restaurant Subo, at 89 S. 10th St., has closed. On Oct. 4, a sign announcing the closure was posted on the restaurant’s front window.

Later that day, it was confirmed that Tim Niver and Aaron Johnson, the entrepreneurs behind St. Paul’s Strip Club Meat & Fish, were taking over the space, with plans to reopen it as a new restaurant and bar in mid-November. Niver and Johnson are also responsible for Town Talk Diner, the kitschy cocktail bar on East Lake Street. Dubbed The Inn, the new venture will have a homey theme, with big-handled mugs of beer and comfort food on the menu, Niver said.

Subo owner Jim Hays will remain at the new restaurant, but Niver and Johnson are currently searching for a new executive chef. The Strip Club’s co-owner and chef, JD Fratzke, will serve as a consultant. Entrée prices will be in the $17 to $23 range.

Subo’s closure came swiftly and surprisingly, although the restaurant had struggled since the beginning. Original owner and chef Neil Guillen, who had moved from Manhattan specifically to open Subo last December, left the restaurant last spring, after cooking for only five months.

Geoff King has helmed the kitchen ever since. Under King the menu has gone through several changes, with King attempting to introduce this summer more exotic Filipino specialties. In early September, King announced he would revert to a “more accessible” menu. The restaurant closed weeks later.

Niver said he intends to keep some of Subo’s décor — country rustic with a hip loungey twist — including the Tetris block of stacked crates behind the bar. He added that he hopes to rehire some of the Subo staff.


Capital Grille unveils new menu

HENNEPIN AVENUE — A Downtown restaurant has retooled its lunch operation, hoping to accommodate the tight schedules of the office crowd.

The Capital Grille, at 801 Hennepin Ave. S., is aiming a new lunch menu at the corporate set, officially guaranteeing that a meal there will not make anyone late in getting back to work. In an official statement announcing the new menu, the restaurant proclaimed, “The Capital Grille ensures [diners] can eat, enjoy and be on their way in about 45 minutes.”

The menu features a build-your-own-plate option, with guests combining a sandwich, side and soup or salad for $18. New items include an open-faced grilled chicken sandwich with tomato and arugula, while old standards like the lobster and crab burger remain on the menu.


Moroccan restaurant debuts on Central

CENTRAL AVENUE NE — A new Moroccan restaurant has opened on Central Avenue, adding even more far-flung flavor to a corridor known for its ethnic eateries.

Marrakech Café & Grill served its first customers in early September. The restaurant, owned by Hassan El Atiti, replaces the Pakistani restaurant Pak Zam Zam at 1839 Central Ave. NE.

Atiti, originally from Morocco, said his kitchen specializes in traditional dishes one might find in his homeland’s famed “Red City”: couscous, tangine, homemade bread and Moroccan coffee. An outside patio allows for café seating. Most entrees are in the $7 to $10 range.

Hours are 11 a.m.–10 p.m. daily.


Craft Council celebrates new digs, honors artists

SHERIDAN — Although the American Craft Council moved its headquarters to Minneapolis two months ago, the 67-year-old nonprofit had been laying pretty low, settling quietly into its new stronghold in Northeast’s Grain Belt Brewhouse. It was the first move in the Council’s history, which has held home base in Manhattan since 1943. And for many weeks, no one really heard a peep out of 1220 Marshall St. NE, where the Council rents space from RSP Architects. The organization, it seemed, needed some time to absorb the change, hire a completely new local staff — and to maybe set up its famed, 7,000-volume library.

By the time October hit, though, it was time for a coming out.

Oct. 1 marked the Council’s grand opening, with a well-appointed celebration hosted on the rooftop terrace of the castle-like Grain Belt building. It was an opportunity for the Council to introduce itself — and its national art magazine American Craft — to the Twin Cities arts community.

More than 200 guests attended the affair, which doubled as a sort of gala award ceremony for a dozen or so craft world honorees. Eight artists, from all over the country, were officially inducted into the Craft Council’s “College of Fellows,” a sort of craft world hall-of-fame that the Council has nominated artists to since 1975. Inductees must have “demonstrated extraordinary artistic ability and must have worked 25 years or more in the discipline or career in which they are recognized.”

The Council also presented a Gold Medal award, “for consummate craftsmanship,” to Rochester, N.Y.-based metal sculptor Albert Paley, and an Aileen Osborn Webb Award for Philanthropy to Menlo Park, California, residents George and Dorothy Saxe, widely regarded as the foremost craft collectors in the nation.

Each honoree is featured in the October/November issue of American Craft.


New plans for the former Pop! space

JOHNSON STREET NE — The shuttered Pop! space on Johnson won’t stay empty for long. The storefront at 2859 Johnson St. NE has already been turned over to a family-style neighborhood restaurant that is expected to open late this fall.

The family owners have operated restaurants for three generations — their grandmother started working at the Traveler’s Inn, one of Alexandria’s oldest restaurants, back in the 1950s, and the family still operates it today.

“I’m getting back to my roots,” said co-owner Adam Sieve, who previously lived in Chicago and worked as a high school teacher and assistant principal. Sieve is partnering in the venture with his younger brother, Andrew. Their family’s restaurant credits also include the Brass Lantern in Alexandria and Michael’s Café in Long Prairie.

Adam said the Northeast restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“It’s old-fashioned, home-cooked food,” he said.

Sieve plans to announce more details about the restaurant when the build-out begins later this fall.


Timberwolves cut deal with Sanford Health for Target Center sign

WAREHOUSE DISTRICT — A choice stretch of billboard space overlooking Target Field has been nabbed by Sanford Health, a not-for-profit health care system based in South Dakota.

The Minnesota Timberwolves have agreed to let the company post its logo on a flat stretch of the Target Center exterior, almost directly above the main Target Plaza gate entrance to the stadium. The sign was installed just before the Twins’ first playoff game, on Oct. 6.

The sign is an outward symbol of a relationship between Sanford Health and the NBA team that began during the 2008–2009 season. Sanford consults the Wolves on issues of sports nutrition and hydration. In addition, the basketball team has as its NBA D-League affiliate the Sioux Falls Skyforce, a team that plays in the town where Sanford is headquartered. Sanford Health will also host several “Sanford Health Nights” during the course of the 2010-11 NBA season.


Mills development headed for foreclosure

EAST BANK — A proposed riverside development that once called for 1,000 units of housing at the Pillsbury “A” Mill site near St. Anthony Main is likely headed to foreclosure.

A notice of mortgage-foreclosure sale for East Bank Mills was filed during the last week of September. Local developer Schafer Richardson is now
scrambling to find new investors, in the hopes of continuing with the project. The notice of mortgage foreclosure sale lists the original mortage as $19 million and a current balance of $20.36 million.

A sheriff’s sale is planned for Nov. 15. Beyond that date, Schafer Richardson, through its entity Mill Development LLC, would have six months to try to regain control of the property.

According to news reports, Schafer Richardson is attempting to secure public money to help finance the project, which foundered due to hard-to-get financing and slumped interest in the condo market. Hennepin County has approved a $280,000 clean-up grant for the developer, which also has pending applications for additional funding with the Metropolitan Council.

Schafer Richardson bought the East Bank Mills site, which totals eight acres and encompasses nine property parcels, including the Pillsbury “A” Mill building at 300 Main St. SE, in 2003.


New owners at Stop-N-Go gas station

LOGAN PARK — The Stop-N-Go gas station off of Adams Street and Broadway Street, which recently foreclosed, has been purchased by a new owner and is in the process of major renovations.

The new owner, Ron Olson, who also manages the Stop-N-Go off of Johnson Street NE, is planning to better serve the surrounding community that drives the local business by restoring the station in order to be up to Minneapolis city codes.  

The gas station is expected to open soon and to have operating hours from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., as previous complaints from neighbors filed in about loitering and disturbances late at night due to the prior owner’s 24-hour operation.

Other objections from the community included an increasing build up of trash and litter, rude employees, non-working pumps and higher gas prices than other closely located gas stations in the neighborhood. The lack of cleanliness inside the store also caused mold build up in the station’s walls. One blogger went as far to call the convenience store, “a blight to the neighborhood” on, a website which allows people to rate local businesses in their area.

Michelle, manager of the Johnson Street location, assures that it will be a standard gas station with a fresh staff that will be up to the community’s expectations. She also said that the new owner has removed the pay phone, located near the gas station, so as to deter any crime that may come from use of the phone.

“The community has complained about illegal things taking place over the pay phone outside the station. Ron made it a point to take out anything that could be harmful to the neighborhood or interfere with the daily flow of the business,” Michele said.

Some renovations include, but are not limited to, the removal of the deli that was not kept up to city codes and the repair of a whole in the roof caused by an unsuccessful attempt to get rid of the air conditioning unit by the previous owners.


‘It’s a Jungle in There’

NICOLLET MALL — If you were passing through the IDS Crystal Court on Oct. 6, you might have spotted some gorillas.

A flash mob of people dressed as “professional” gorillas, including Rainforest Café founder Steven Schussler, descended on the Crystal Court at noon to promote Schussler’s new book, “It’s a Jungle in There — Inspiring Lessons, Hard-Won Insights, and Other Acts of Entrepreneurial Daring.”

Schussler’s book reflects on some of his zaniest experiences in the business world, provides tips to aspiring entrepreneurs and encourages people to give back to charitable causes. All of the proceeds from “It’s a Jungle in There” will go to the Smile Network, an organization based in the North Loop neighborhood that provides reconstructive surgeries for impoverished children all over the world. Schussler is one of the founding members of the nonprofit, which is led by Kim Valentini.

When asked for insights about what makes a successful entrepreneur, Schussler said it’s important to pay attention to detail, be passionate and unrelentingly positive, appreciative of colleagues and charitable.

As for keeping up the energy, he said he talks to himself a lot: “You got to stay upbeat and ahead of the curve.”

The book launch in the Crystal Court, 80 S. 8th St., featured a book signing, gourmet treats, gorilla masks for sale and live entertainment by Tom Hunter. WCCO-TV anchor Frank Vascellaro was the master of ceremony.

Schussler also spoke at an event at Barnes & Noble, 801 Nicollet Mall. There was a book signing fundraiser with free champagne and appetizers.  

The book will be available at many area retailers, including Twice the Gift in the Crystal Court. For more information, visit


Tips on cooking like a chef at home

MILL DISTRICT — Local chef Stewart Woodman has tips on preparing fabulous meals for the family in his new book “Shefzilla: Conquering Haute Cuisine at Home.”

After his celebrated restaurant Heidi’s went up in flames earlier this year at 50th & Bryant, Woodman focused his energies on cooking at home for his friends and family. Soon, Heidi’s will reopen in the Lyn-Lake neighborhood.

The book features 150 recipes for ambitious home chefs. Highlights include dishes like Roasted Beet Salad with Soy Sauce and Napa Cabbage, Wild Rice and Cremini Hot Dish and Pink Peppercorn Ice Cream.

Woodman will be promoting his book at the Mill City Farmers Market, 704 2nd St. S., on Oct. 16. The market is open 8 a.m.–1 p.m.

— Sarah McKenzie and Vanessa El-Hakeem contributed to this report