BIZ BUZZ // At long last, Maeves opens

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October 7, 2011
By: Jeremy Zoss & Mike Munzenrider
Jeremy Zoss & Mike Munzenrider
SHERIDAN —The doors at Maeve’s Café are finally open.

Owner Mary Colon held a soft opening for the long-awaited restaurant on Sunday, Sept. 25 and opened the 300 13th Ave. NE restaurant for business the following day.

Colon, the former owner of the popular Northeast Minneapolis hangout Audubon Coffee, had originally planned to open the restaurant this summer. Delays getting city approvals have prevented that from happening.

Colon is still waiting for her liquor license, so remains unable to serve alcohol for at least six weeks. She hopes to have it in hand by mid-October, she said.

Still, just being open is a relief and a milestone to be celebrated, Colon said. “We’re ready to hit the ground running,” she said.

The restaurant, which sits next to The Anchor Fish & Chips, will offer an eclectic variety of ethnic dishes inspired by the neighborhood, as well as coffee.  

Playful Peacock Showgirl Academy offers classes in burlesque

SHERIDAN — Burlesque performers Gina Louise and Ophelia Flame have been teaching the art of burlesque for several years, but it was only recently that their classes formalized into The Playful Peacock Showgirl Academy. The first burlesque school in Minnesota, The Playful Peacock offers a variety of classes for those who are serious about wanting to perform and those simply looking for a good time. All classes are held at The Ritz Theater at 345 13th Ave. NE.

“It’s really open to everybody. Part of the beauty of it is that it’s for all ages,” said co-founder Gina Louise. “We’re in our 40s. We’re too old to be doing this! Our students range from 20s to 50s.”

Along with burlesque instruction, The Playful Peacock offers classes on acting, character development and other performance skills, as well as special sessions with guest burlesque performers. The Academy also offers vintage-themed party and event services.

For Gina Louise, teaching burlesque was a natural decision.

She has been a fixture in the local burlesque community for some time, but teaching was part of her background as well. “I taught high school English,” she said. “My two fields of study were modern dance and English literature. After I had my kids I needed a change. I really like the opportunity to do something that combines my two interests.”

She also said that there was a growing need for a burlesque school. Many local burlesque performers have no formal training, and the art form is only growing in popularity. “It’s more than just a flash in the pan. It’s not just a trend,” said Gina Louise. “It takes serious study and our burlesque community is growing.”

For more information, visit playfulpeacock.com.

Howl at the Moon piano bar coming in December

WAREHOUSE DISTRICT — National dueling piano bar chain Howl at the Moon is opening a new location at 431 1st Ave. N. on Dec. 9.

The space is being remodeled to accommodate around 400 patrons for Howl at the Moon’s nightly shows, which the are described as high energy events with a huge emphasis on audience participation.

“We promote that it’s a really crowd involved experience, where the crowd dictates what songs are being played,” said Howl’s national marketing director Michael Yates. “It’s more of a party place. It’s where you go for your birthday, your bachelorette party, all of that. We really involve the crowd into our live shows.”

Yates said the Minneapolis location will be one of the largest in the 14-store chain and will feature an island bar and windows that open to the street in summer.

Minneapolis already has a dueling piano bar, The Shout House in Block E. According to Yates, there are more than one dueling piano bars in many of the 14 cities in which Howl at the Moon has locations, and the market should easily support two.

“People go to different dueling piano bars for different reasons,” said Yates. “We kind of consider ourselves more of a live music venue. The dueling pianos are a huge part of the show, but it’s so much more now. We definitely consider ourselves one of those places where you walk out and say ‘oh my gosh, what did I just walk out of?’”

Caldrea signs lease for Ford Center

NORTH LOOP — Eco-friendly cleaning supply company Caldrea is expanding its offices in the Ford Center and will soon occupy an entire floor in the renovated Ford Center. Renovations on the Ford Center began in late 2010 and are expected be completed early next year.

Caldrea manufactures natural cleaning and laundry products under the Caldrea, Caldrea Essentials Collection and Mrs. Meyers Clean Day brands.

“The business has been great. We’ve been experiencing double-digit growth,” said Caldrea Vice President of Marketing Kim Chisholm. “So it makes sense with the remodel of the Ford Center for us to expand and to take the whole floor.”

The strong performance of the three brands and the company’s expanded space made now the perfect time for expansion. “It’s overall business growth, so it lends itself to growing in operations, R&D and marketing,” said Chisholm. “We’re going to have a great lab in the new space.”

HGA Architects, the company behind the renovation of the Ford Center, is planning to relocate its offices  to the Ford Center, as is acclaimed advertising agency Olson.

Loring Corners owner planning business incubator

LORING PARK — According to Joseph Whitney, he’s been incubating businesses for a long time. But now he’s making it official.

With the pending departure of advertising firm Olson from the Loring Corners, a group of buildings near Loring Park owned by Whitney, he was left with 125,000 square feet of vacant office space. Whitney decided to devote 10,000 square feet of that space to fledgling companies and individuals, creating a business incubator called Cornerstone Ventures, 1635 Hennepin Ave.

Cornerstone Ventures’ working motto is “startups built to compete,” and Whitney will have a hand in that building process. He plans to invest $250,000 of his own money into the incubator and says he thinks it could turn into a $1 million investment fund.

The incubator will offer office space and other support at no cost, but Whitney is not simply giving away money.

“It’s not free, it’s making an investment in their business,” he said. “We have capital available to fund business plans, prototypes, etcetera, but we’re taking equity too.”

Whitney plans to enlist 10–15 companies along with freelancers, focusing on web developers, software developers and graphic designers.

As for his prior experience in the business incubation business, Whitney said: “To a certain extent I’ve been doing this for 25–30 years since I’ve owned this building.”

He explained that dealing with so many small tenants has made him accustomed to taking chances, such as betting that multiple months’ worth of late rent will show once business picks up.

Playing the long game has suited Whitney in the past, and Cornerstone Ventures could be seen as a part of that game.

“I want to stimulate business but, frankly, I really think it’s good to have a steady stream of business renters for the offices,” he said. “It’s an investment in the future of the buildings.”

Cornerstone Ventures is currently in a soft launch phase, but the project has a tentative official launch date of Feb. 15, Whitney said.

Inquiring companies and freelancers may contact Cornerstone Ventures at loringincubator@gmail.com.

New yoga studio opening on Central

LOGAN PARK — A new yoga studio is coming to Northeast.

Tiera Rozman is aiming to open her new studio Yoga on Central on Nov. 1 in the Thorpe Building, 1620 Central Ave. NE.

The  2,200-square-foot studio will offer a variety of yoga classes, a Zumba boot camp (a Latin dance-inspired workout) and Balletone, another dance-based fitness routine.

Rozman is trained in the Kundalini style of yoga — a meditative practice. She did her training in Boulder, Colo.

For her day job, she manages 167 rental properties in Columbia Heights and Fridley. It’s often stressful work, she said.

Before practicing yoga, she said she had a harder time managing the pressures of the job.

“I’m nicer now,” she said. “I used to cry a lot more. Now I just breathe.”

— Drew Kerr & Sarah McKenzie contributed to this report.