BIZ BUZZ // More food trucks take to the streets

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June 20, 2011 // UPDATED 8:50 am - June 20, 2011
By: Jeremy Zoss
Jeremy Zoss

MARQUETTE — The Minneapolis food truck craze continues to grow. In the June 5-19 Journal, we published a map of where to find the various food trucks Downtown, and now two more have joined their ranks.

Co-owned by Bradstreet Craft house bartender Birk Stefan Grundem and Design Collective founder Christina Nguyen, Hola Arepa brings sustainable Central and South American fare to the food truck scene. An arepa is a hand-pattied cornmeal cake, which the truck offers up in a variety of fillings, such as pulled pork and chicken. The truck will also occasionally sell more adventurous offerings such as cuy (guinea pig), which is a common dish in Central America.

Hola Arepa was usually spotted on Marquette during its first week, as was Vellee Deli, a big black truck that serves Asian/Mexican fusion food. The menu includes items like a Korean BBQ burrito, a Thai curry burrito and more traditional items like egg rolls.

For a sweeter option, head over to the adorable Cupcake On The Go truck, usually found at 10th and Nicollet. An offshoot of the Cupcake restaurant at 3338 University Ave. SE, the owners decided to take their cupcakes to the streets in part because of the extensive construction on University. The menu of delightful, artistic cakes changes daily, and most are priced at $2.50.
Cupcake will also appear on Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” on June 21 at 7 p.m.


Grand Hotel celebrates grand re-opening

DOWNTOWN CORE — Just shy of its 100th birthday, the building that formerly housed the Minneapolis Athletic Club is ready for the next phase of its life.

While it has been operating as the Grand Hotel Minneapolis since 2001, early guests at the hotel might not recognize its fancy new look. Under the oversight of Kimpton Hotels (which took over last fall), the Grand Hotel has undergone a $6 million renovation that upgraded “just about everything,” according to General Manager Amanda Parsons.

On June 16, the Grand Hotel Minneapolis held a grand re-opening party, during which guests were able to check out the revamped living room-style lobby, new cocktails and locally sourced cuisine of the Six15 Room bar. They were also treated to spectacles such a 51 champagne cork salute in honor of the Grand’s position as the 51st hotel in the Kimpton Hotel portfolio.

Each room in the Grand Hotel received cosmetic improvements from floor to ceiling, as well as amenities such as 42-inch flat screen televisions. The remodel also included redecoration of the Presidential Suite, which at 3,500 square feet is the largest such room in the Twin Cities.

Sevnthsin launches space photography project

LOGAN PARK — Digital creative agency Sevnthsin has its hands full with lots of work projects, but its staff still has time for their personal interests. On the weekend of June 25, Sevnthsin founder Jamey Erickson will launch Bespin, a low-orbit space photography project.

Based on a similar project Erickson launched last year, Bespin will send a Canon Powershot camera, HD video camera, GPS tracking equipment and a LEGO spaceman more than 100,000 feet into the air, using 3,000-gram helium-filled balloons for lift. The Bespin craft will be launched five times over the summer, collecting digital images and video from heights rarely achieved by amateur space explorers.

The Bespin project won’t earn Sevnthsin or Erickson any money. In fact, cash for the project was raised via micro-funding site Kickstarter (funders will receive photos taken by the craft). But making money was never the point of the project. Erickson hopes it will inspire people to do the things they’re passionate about.

“Do the thing you care about, no matter how nerdy it is,” he said.

Element Pizza opening on Broadway

ST. ANTHONY WEST — The former owners of the Istanbul Bistro in Minnetonka have sold that restaurant in order to focus on a new venture closer to their home. The veteran restaurateurs have announced Element Pizza, a new wood-fired pizza place at 96 Broadway St. NE.

Element Pizza will feature a special wood-fired oven customized to operate similar to a traditional Turkish oven. The restaurant will also feature a patio, a beer and wine list and a rotating menu based on fresh, seasonal ingredients.

Gather by D’Amico now open at the Walker Art Center

HENNEPIN — Since the closure of Wolfgang Puck’s 20.21 at The Walker Art Center was announced earlier this year, local foodies have been anticipating the opening of Gather, the new D’Amico restaurant taking over the space. The lunch-focused eatery opened on June 2 with a chef-driven sampler series kicked off by D’Amico executive chef Jay Sparks.

On the first Thursday of each month, an acclaimed guest chef will offer a new selection of small plates that will be featured on the menu for the rest of the month. July’s featured chef is Restaurant Alma and Brasa owner Alex Roberts. In August, the menu will feature the creations of Isaac Becker, winner of this years’s James Beard Award for “Best Chef Midwest” and of Bar La Grassa and 112 Eatery. September’s menu contributions will come from Adam King of Bar Lurcat.

The regular lunch menu was created by D’Amico’s Josh Brown and features “globally inspired American cusine.” The restaurant is open Tuesday–Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., with dinner hours on Thursdays from 5–9 p.m.

Saturday, June 4 brought the opening of another new restaurant at the Walker: Garden Grill by D’Amico served summer fare like burgers and hot dogs to visitors of the Walker’s Open Field program. The Garden Grill is open Tuesday–Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended hours on Thursdays through 9 p.m.

Visit for more information.

A Bag Lady working toward late summer opening

AUDUBON — The sign is up at the former co-operated laundry at the corner of 29th and Johnson St. NE: A Bag Lady is coming soon. The Northeast store will be the third location for owner Dani McNutt’s small boutique chain, which she hopes will be open by Aug. 1.

A Bag Lady also has stores in Northfield and Medford, and McNutt says she’s been looking to come up into the metro area for some time. With its mix of retail, restaurants and residential, Johnson Street felt like the perfect fit.

As with the other A Bag Lady locations, the Northeast store will offer up a mix of handbags, jewelry and clothing.

Tarnish & Gold looking for a new home

SHERIDAN — An art gallery reception isn’t a simple affair, especially if it requires licenses for music or alcohol. Tarnish & Gold, a gallery dedicated to local artists, learned that the hard way in its first year and decided to shut down and do some more research on city code.

The gallery has shrunk into a Dinkytown studio that the staff are using as office space. They’re still hosting events — they had a one-year birthday party at the Nomad World Pub — but they’re hunting for an upgrade from the original gallery at 1511 Marshall St. NE.

“We were pretty limited as far as what we could actually do in that space,” said co-founder Greta Seiffert.

She said they wanted to provide music at gallery events, for example, but the city’s requisite entertainment license triggered extra fire code inspections. Those inspections would have required the gallery to install a costly back entrance.

“We opened with the intention of having community classes, music and big art events,” Seiffert said. When it became cost-prohibitive to do that, they decided to shut down and figure out how to make it happen elsewhere.

“We’re doing a lot of research while we have the time to do it,” Seiffert said.


• Central Foods at 2402 Central Ave. NE has closed. The current owners have been running it for about two years and are looking for a buyer.

• While it only opened last fall, The Inn in Downtown has closed. The restaurant took over the former Hell’s Kitchen space at 89 10th St. S. and, according to co-owner Tim Niver, simply did not attract enough business to remain open.

• Eric and Andrew Dayton are aiming for a mid-July opening for their restaurant and cocktail bar in the North Loop. They are rehabbing the old Marvel Rack building at 200 N. 1st St. The restaurant will be called the Bachelor Farmer and the cocktail area in the basement will be known as the Marvel Bar.

— Michelle Bruch & Sarah McKenzie contributed to this report