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February 9, 2004 // UPDATED 2:52 pm - April 24, 2007
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

The inside scoop on business

Central-Hennepin area gets new bookstore, cafe

Query, a new independent bookstore, and the Wilde Roast Caf/ will open this month on the corner of Central and Hennepin Avenues on the edge of the Nicollet Island/East Bank neighborhood.

A new theater and salon are also planned for the intersection. T.H.E. Theater Company and Wash & Brush Up Company (a hair salon and 165-seat theater) will move into the space at 509-513 Central Ave. NE sometime this spring.

Lyle Starkloff, owner of the Query, 520 E. Hennepin Ave., said he plans on catering to the gay and lesbian community, but hopes to attract a broader range of customers as well. Besides books, the store will also carry DVDs, magazines and newspapers.

"It's mainly targeting the gay and lesbian community, but I want to expand the marketplace for this bookstore. Even though it's a small bookstore, I want to carry books that are just good books in general, no matter who wrote them or what the target audience was," he said.

Starkloff, an independent bookseller since 1987, said he picked the location for its proximity to Downtown and the University of Minnesota. He was also looking to go next door to a caf/.

"This has been an off-and-on dream of mine for years," he said.

Next door, the Wilde Roast Caf/, 518 E. Hennepin Ave., bills itself as a coffeehouse "with an updated Victorian feel" and takes its name from the famed 19th-century Irish playwright Oscar Wilde.

Caf/ co-owners Dean Schlaak and Tom DeGree said they set out to create a "cultivated leisure" spot. "We have tried to create an atmosphere that would suit Wilde's tastes. A comfortable place you can come alone or with friends to enjoy a latte or glass of wine by our 1900s fireplace on a Chesterfield couch," the men wrote on the Wilde Roast Caf/ Web site.

City Center loses sports tenants; vacancies top 30

Lady Foot Locker and Champs Sports have closed in Downtown's City Center, 33 S. 6th St.

The tenants opted not to renew their leases, said Betsy Buckley, a consultant for Brookfield Properties (City Center's landlord).

The third-floor vacancies add to a list of more than 30 available spaces in the shopping center, according to its Web site. The 20-year-old retail and office complex is about to undergo a $15 million renovation designed to lure new tenants to the space. Construction is expected to begin in March and be complete by summer 2005.

Currently, City Center boasts about 40 commercial tenants, including the 584-room Marriott Hotel and the restaurants Copeland's of New Orleans and Goodfellow's. Larger tenants include Marshalls, Office Depot and the Minnesota State Bar Association.

Buckley said City Center is actively pursuing a range of new tenants, including a daycare, an urban market/grocery store, an eyewear store, travel agency, an independent bookstore and mini-exercise studio, among other things.

Park Caf/s close, relocate

The Park Caf/ has closed two Downtown locations with plans to move into the Hennepin County Government Center, 300 S. 6th St., in coming weeks.

The Park Caf/ currently has a small coffee and sandwich stand at the Government Center.

Park Caf/ President Kim Gruetzmacher said leases expired for the caf/s at the TCF Tower, 800 Marquette Ave., and Highland Bank Court, 811 LaSalle Ave.

Sales had slumped at both locations -- a trend Gruetzmacher blames on increasing vacancies rates at the office towers. The caf/s provided catering services, baked goods, pizzas, soups, sandwiches and a salad bar.

The catering services will continue out of the 8th Street Grill, 800 Marquette Ave.