Buzz: Wilde Roast Caf moving to riverfront

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April 22, 2011
By: Jeremy Zoss
Jeremy Zoss
EAST BANK — According to Wilde Roast Café’s co-owner Dean Schlaak, there’s a lifespan to restaurants. “If you go too long without shaking it up, you fade away,” he said.

Well, things are certainly being shaken up at Wilde Roast. After seven years at its original location on East Hennepin, the restaurant is moving to a larger space in Riverplace.

Wilde Roast will be taking over the former Picosa space at 65 Main St. SE, a location that offers three times as much dining space, outdoor seating and a lovely view of the river. The expanded kitchen means that several new items will be added to the menu, including one that Schlaak is particularly excited about: homemade ice cream. “There’s not a single ice cream place in Northeast,” said Schlaak. “That definitely needed to change.

Wilde Roast will close the last week of May and reopen a week later in the new space. Until then, Schlaak and partner Tom DeGree are drawing attention to the new location with a “peep show.” Six windows in the space feature hilarious, complex dioramas built with Marshmallow Peeps candies.


New daycare opening on Central

HOLLAND — A new daycare center and clinic will take over some of the retail space below the Central Avenue Lofts at 24th and Central avenues.

The businesses are moving in next to Coffee Nazionale, a shop that opened three months ago.

A single owner, Abib Musse, is behind the new centers under construction. He co-owns the Madina Academy daycare in Columbia Heights. The new Northeast daycare will be another branch of Madina, caring for about 50 children ranging in age from six weeks to 12 years. Musse previously worked as a doctor in Pakistan, and although he doesn’t practice here, his background sparked the idea to open a clinic.

“I realized the neighborhood needed these kinds of services,” he said.

The primary care clinic, called Multicultural Health Group, will employ two doctors.

Musse said he expects the centers to open later this summer.

All of the businesses, including Coffee Nazionale, are meant to cater to the local Somali community. The coffee shop serves sambusas, kabobs and Somali chai teas, with a high-speed Wi-Fi connection and a large television that’s often tuned to sports games.


Panchero’s Mexican Grill closes in Block E

HENNEPIN — At the rate that Block E is losing tenants, news that another one has shut down is hardly surprising. But the latest Block E casualty may not have closed simply because of slow sales. According to the social media manager at the Panchero’s Mexican Grill chain, the Block E location shut its doors because it did not fit with the development plans for the complex. Block E owner Alatus would like for those plans to include a new upscale casino.

The news of the closure broke via Twitter: “The Block E area has some new development plans coming, so we could not stay. Hope to be back downtown in the future!”

Alatus has not responded to a request for comment.


Pawlenty leases Downtown office space

DOWNTOWN CORE — Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty may not yet officially be running for President, but he’s looking more and more like a candidate all the time. He announced a presidential exploratory committee late last month, and now that organization has found a home Downtown.

The Pawlenty team has leased the former offices of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal, a 5,000-square-foot space in One Financial Plaza,120 S. 6th St. Terms of the lease agreement were not disclosed, but Nils Snyder, the broker for NAI Welsh who represented the committee in the site search said that the terms of the lease “will match what’s needed for the campaign.”

Snyder said that Pawlenty did not visit the space during the site search, which spanned “all of the owners downtown and some out in the suburbs.” According to Snyder, the Pawlenty committee selected the space because of the “convenience, amenities, food, transit options — basically all the things we all love about Downtown.”


North Washington Café closes

NORTH LOOP — It may have only taken over the old Java J’s place late last year, but the North Washington Café has closed its doors. The business offered up a mix of coffee and alcoholic beverages, as well as breakfast, lunch and dinner. The space was host to frequent events, including acoustic music and neighborhood nights sponsored by area brewers Fulton Beer.

“I love this neighborhood,” said owner Joe Grunnet of the Downtown Resource Group. “I was really hoping that we could make North Washington Café work. I hope that the neighborhood remembers the café fondly. We had a short run, but we’ve learned a lot about what will and won’t work in the neighborhood.”


Chuck & Don’s to open NE store

Minnesota-based Chuck & Don’s Pet Food Outlet is preparing to open its first Northeast store, which will occupy the space next to Lund’s on the corner of 4th Street and Central Avenue. The new location is scheduled to open by June 30.

Chuck & Don’s Pet Food Warehouse largely focuses on holistic and natural pet foods, a fact the retailer is hoping will appeal to residents of the urban neighborhood. Natural pet food accounts for 75 percent of Chuck & Don’s food sales.


Chef Erik Anderson leaving Sea Change

MILL DISTRICT — Tim McKee may be the name most associated with Sea Change, but chef Erik Anderson has certainly won his share of accolades while assisting McKee in the day-to-day operations of the Guthrie Theater restaurant. Of course, he had a pretty impressive resume before Sea Change, and it looks like his profile is only going up from here. Unfortunately for local diners, Anderson’s new opportunities are taking him away from Minneapolis.

Anderson will be leaving Sea Change and flying to Copenhagen, where he’ll spend six weeks working at Noma, current holder of the “Best Restaurant in the World” title. While working as a stagiaire or chef’s apprentice, Anderson will soak up the environment in what he calls “probably the most creative kitchen in the world right now.”

Once he’s finished his stint at Noma, Anderson will be heading down to Nashville to open a restaurant with his friend and former Porter & Frye colleague Josh Habiger.


Infinity Smokes opens on Hennepin

HENNEPIN — The retail spaces on the first floor of the Stage Apartments at 814 Hennepin Ave. S. have welcomed a new tenant, an upscale cigar and tobacco store.

Infinity Smokes is the first retail venture for owner Tariq Hamoubah, who previously worked in the home mortgage industry. Hamoubah noticed that Downtown lacked the high-end smoke shops common in cities like Chicago and believes the location is perfect for just such a shop. At the south end of the theater district, the new store is close to restaurants, clubs, bars and multiple performance venues.


Zen Box Izakaya opening new location

Mill District — After seven years serving Japanese fare in the skyways, the owners of the Zen Box Japanese Eatery have announced that they will be opening a new restaurant in the Mill District.

Zen Box Izakaya will open in the retail space of the Mill District City Apartments, 225 Portland Ave. S., in late summer. Owners John Ng and Lina Goh hope to offer up food that’s unlike any other Japanese restaurant in the city.

“We don’t want to do sushi,” said Goh. “It will be a Japanese gastropub that focuses on traditional Japanese comfort foods.” Those comfort foods include dishes like breaded pork cutlets, chicken dumplings, noodle dishes and other hearty meals that aren’t as frequently associated with Japanese cuisine as sushi or hibachi.

Ng and Goh founded the original Zen Box with a similar goal of bringing a wider range of Japanese cuisine to Minneapolis. Several of the skyway locations most popular dishes will be made available at the larger space, as will several new menu items and a variety of Japanese beers. The new space will also feature patio dining.



The owners of the Northeast Social have plans for a second restaurant on Nicollet.

It will be called the Eat Street Social and part of a redevelopment planned for 26th & Nicollet.

Reach Jeremy Zoss at Michelle Bruch contributed to this report.