BIZ BUZZ // Ginellis Pizza celebrates 25 years

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June 30, 2011
By: Jeremy Zoss and Michelle Bruch
Jeremy Zoss and Michelle Bruch
SKYWAYS — The restaurant business is hard. The Downtown skyway retail scene is challenging as well.

So when a skyway restaurant marks its 25th anniversary, it’s definitely worth noting. Ginelli’s Pizza in the TCF Skyway at 8th & Marquette celebrated its 25th year on June 16, and its employees celebrated by surprising owner Kelly Zenk with an anniversary banner and shirt.

Employee Amy Scott has been working at Ginelli’s for 15 years, and she said Zenk was happily surprised to see what the employees had done to commemorate the occasion. When asked what can be credited for the restaurant’s longevity, she pointed to the ingredients, which are always made from scratch in the restaurant. “It’s our sauce,” she said happily. “Most of these people in here have been coming here for years.”

City wants hearing on Karma’s liquor license

WAREHOUSE DISTRICT — After declaring the Karma nightclub at 315 1st Ave. N. a public nuisance and asking the club to close for 90 days, the city of Minneapolis has now initiated an “adverse license action” against the club, seeking a hearing on the non-renewal of the establishment’s liquor license.

The source of 165 police calls between January 2010 and June of this year, the Karma nightclub has remained open despite the city’s call for a temporary closure. The management offered its own suggestions on how to deal with the club’s issues, but meetings between the management and the city did not result in a mutually agreed-upon solution.

Karma is open four nights a week from 10 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., and the Minneapolis Police Department routinely dedicates 12 patrol officers and four to five mounted officers to the venue during closing time, according to city officials. This heavy police presence is not likely to change anytime soon. The process to determine whether or not the club will retain its license is expected to take several months.

Slick new steelwork for Surdyk’s

EAST HENNEPIN — You can thank Northeast artist Frank Stone for the stainless steel that now covers the south wall of Surdyk’s Liquor Store at 303 E. Hennepin Ave.

Stone had a bit of practice after covering the second floor of his namesake Frank Stone Gallery with stainless steel, as well as a nearby Northeast home he owns.

“I’ve been trying to get Jim [Surdyk] to cover his building for four years,” Stone said. “It’s so cool.”

Stone recently installed the steel plates in 102-degree heat with Frank Stone Gallery Director Laura Drabant. She said June’s record-breaking heat made the work difficult, especially because they were covered in heavy clothing to protect their skin from the sharp metal.

“We had the hardest job on the planet that day,” she said.

Nevertheless, the artists loved the feedback from passersby, who said they appreciated an update to a building that hadn’t been altered since the 1970s.

“People in suits, street people — everybody was commenting,” Stone said. “It was like being in a neighborhood where you knew everybody.”

Stone, who makes furniture, fountains and sculptures, often works with industrial salvage material. The steel on Surdyk’s was originally intended for refrigerators.

Stone said the steelwork exceeded his expectations, particularly the way it reflects stoplights and vehicle headlights.

“It’s pretty spectacular at night,” he said.

Chowgirls reaches out to galleries

SHERIDAN — A Northeast caterer wants to help galleries solve the thorny issue of how to affordably serve alcohol. Chowgirls — a business where half the bartending staff are artists — recently received a liquor license, and the owners want to use it to help the arts community.

Co-owner Heidi Andermack said that in recent years, city officials have stepped up enforcement against galleries that serve alcohol free of charge with donation jars on the side.

City License Insp. Michele Olds said galleries currently have two options if they want to serve drinks. They can either apply for a temporary liquor license through a nonprofit organization, or they can host a private event and only admit people on the guest list.

“They can’t just have alcohol anytime they want,” she said.

Some artists have lamented the cost and red tape the process requires, however.

To help, Andermack said Chowgirls wants to serve as a one-stop-shop for event catering, so that gallery owners don’t have to worry about whether they’re breaking any rules. After expenses, the caterer and the gallery would split bar profits 50-50.

“We want to take that piece off their shoulders,” Andermack said. “The arts community was a big incubator for our business in the beginning, and it continues to be. We want to be able to help the community make that easier.”

Hill Valley Boutique starts Sunday swap meets

WAITE PARK — On Sunday, June 26, the first in an ongoing series of Sunday swap meets was held on the patio behind Hill Valley Boutique, the recently opened vintage and modern store at 3301 Central Ave. NE. Along with several booths featuring work by local artists and crafters, the event featured live music from bands like The Upper Cuts, The No Man’s String Band and Caleb’s Dog and Pony Show.

Hill Valley Boutique owner Elizabeth Tanberg plans to continue the swap meets throughout the summer and hopes to expand the events to Saturdays.

Eruption to launch in Minneapolis

This summer, expect to see the green and black Eruption logo all over Downtown. Street teams dressed in Eruption gear will be out on Nicollet Mall, mingling with crowds at Target Field and cruising past downtown event in Eruption-branded Jeeps.

So what is it? Eruption is a new energy drink product launching this year with a kickoff party at Bootleggers, 323 1st Ave., on July 16.

Created by locals Joshua Shirk and Brian Christensen, deals for distribution throughout various regions of the country are nearly in place, but the bulk of the initial marketing will center on Minneapolis.

The product of four years of planning and refinement, what sets Eruption apart from the huge number of energy drinks on the market is that it’s not a liquid — it’s a mixable powder that can be added into any beverage to transform it into an energy drink. Because of its powdered state, the glut of preservative chemicals required in liquid energy drinks aren’t necessary. It’s all-natural with no sugar and half the caffeine of a cup of coffee. The energy boost is provided by the blend of herbal ingredients, including ginko biloba, ginsing and others.

Former precious metals broker and bartender Christenson decided to launch their product after identifying a hole in the energy drink market —which is one of the most traded commodities today. After testing more than 30 different formulas, the pair landed on a flavor called “lava lime” that mixes smoothly with a variety of beverages, including alcohol. While Eruption is natural and safe for consumers of all ages, it is primarily being targeted toward adults as an alternative to popular drinks like vodka and Red Bull.

The “make your own” energy drink angle has helped Shirk and Christensen secure some powerful help for the launch. A former understudy for famed designer Michael Graves designed the branding and packaging. Multiple retail chains and distributers are interested in carrying the product. Most importantly, outside investors have contributed more than a million dollars to the duo, helping them finance the ad blitz planned for the city this summer.

Noted

After 13 years on the skyway level of the Hyatt Regency Hotel, the Oceanaire Seafood Room’s management has announced plans to move to a new location on Nicollet mall in early 2012. The restaurant will take over the space currently occupied by M&S Grill on the corner of 6th & Nicollet Mall.

Representatives from Oceanaire and M&S Grill declined to comment for this story.

Interstate Parking has a new Parking on the Edge Program. For prices starting at $50 a month, drivers can park at a variety of locations on the edge of Downtown and then take a bus into the city’s core. For more details, check out interstateparking.com or call 375-1301.

Reach Jeremy Zoss at jzoss@mnpubs.com and Michelle Bruch at michellebruch82@gmail.com.