Biz buzz: Hells Kitchen 10th anniversary - a full year of celebrations

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December 30, 2011
By: Jeremy Zoss
Jeremy Zoss
DOWNTOWN CORE — Hell’s Kitchen is celebrating its 10th anniversary in a big way. The restaurant’s official anniversary is May 6, but the celebration began on New Year’s Eve and will extend throughout 2012 and includes events that even owners Mitch Omer, Steve Meyer and Cyn Gerdes think are ridiculous.

The plans include multiple parties, flying out-of-state fans to Minneapolis so they can visit the restaurant, prize mailings of Hell’s Kitchen products, a block party and even an opportunity for customers to buy shares in the restaurant itself.

Hell’s Kitchen, 80 S. 9th St., should never have survived this long, said Omer and Gerdes. Since it has, they might as well go big with the celebration.

The restaurant’s first ever customer tried to walk out on his bill. A motorcycle accident kept Omer out of commission for most of the restaurant’s first year. A second Hell’s Kitchen location in Duluth was a financial disaster, leaving the owners with a staggering debt. Yet, Hell’s Kitchen is still going strong. After moving to its new location in 2009, the restaurant expanded its menu and hours and added live entertainment. If all goes according to plan, a street-level bakery will debut in 2012.

Doing things their way has worked for the Hell’s Kitchen team so far, so there’s no reason not to approach the anniversary the same way.

“We never, ever color inside the lines,” said Gerdes. “We’ll be walking around to tables and comping people’s dinners, and picking people up from their houses and bringing them to the restaurant. We’ll be taking care of customers because they’ve been taking care of us. This will probably either make or break us.”

“It’ll be fun,” said Omer. “I’ve been working in this industry for 38 years, and the last few years are the most fun I’ve ever had.”

For more information on Hell’s Kitchen’s anniversary, visit

Old Navy leaving Quarry Center

NORTHEAST PARK — Old Navy management has confirmed that the Old Navy store in Northeast’s Quarry Center will close in March of 2012. The store and its employees will move to a larger location in the Rosedale Commons shopping center in Roseville.

The move will leave a large retail space open in the Quarry, the largest retail development in Minneapolis outside of downtown. Built in 1997, the tenants of the shopping center have been remarkably stable over the years. Old Navy will be the first of the original anchor tenants to leave the development.

A new tenant for the Old Navy space has not yet been announced.

New fashion shop Arrow opening early next year

NORTH LOOP — Sarah Dwyer and Michael Basham, former employees of defunct high-end Uptown fashion boutique Intoto, are launching their own fashion shop in the former martinpatrick3 space at 12 1st St. N.

Dwyer said that she hopes to have a soft launch for the store, called Arrow, by the end of January, with a grand opening in February.

Arrow will carry a similar stock of clothing lines as Intoto, but with a wider price range. Expect to see edgy fashion lines such as Rogan, Inhabit, Surface to Air and L’Agence.

Dwyer said the Arrow name is reflective of the type of store customers should expect. “We think it’s a strong word, and fashion is about direction,” said Dwyer. “We like to think of ourselves as having a directional fashion store that’s not looking at what the trend is now, but what the trend is going to be.”

New pastry chef at Bachelor Farmer
NORTH LOOP — The Bachelor Farmer at 50 2nd Ave. N. has announced a key addition to its staff. Krista Steinbach, former co-owner of Sweets Bakeshop, has joined the restaurant as its pastry chef. Steinbach will focus on updating the dessert menu and developing a weekend brunch service, which the restaurant intends to introduce next summer.

Steinbach co-founded Sweets Bakeshop in 2009 after returning from a tour of duty in Iraq. She left the business this summer.

In other Bachelor Farmer news, sous chef Kelsey Bergstrom has left the restaurant to explore other interests outside of the culinary industry. The restaurant is currently seeking a replacement.

Midwest Watch & Diamond expands at new location
DOWNTOWN CORE — Midwest Watch & Diamond, formerly located in the Hyatt Regency building on Nicollet Mall, has reopened in a larger space in US Bank Plaza, 220 6th St. S.

Founded in 1995, the company has signed a 10-year lease on the 2,150-square-foot space, which will soon feature custom displays for high-end brands such as Ulysse-Nardin.

According to Midwest Diamond & Watch president Craig Zaligson, the previous location in the Hyatt drew clientele there to visit the restaurant — the hotel was home to Manny’s Steakhouse, then Oceanaire.

“Manny’s having moved took away a lot of the clientele,” said Zaligson. After Oceanaire also relocated, it was time to move the store to a more active location and expand the product line. The store will once again offer loose diamonds, which it had scaled back on in recent years.

Zaligson plans to soon start a monthly event at the store where those interested in watches can meet, mingle and learn more. The store is decked out with multiple sitting areas with comfortable sofas, chairs and flatscreen televisions, but Zaligson says the real draw is Jacob Sobell, the store’s in-house watchmaker. Amongst other certifications, Sobell has graduated from the Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Education Program, one of only 236 Americans to complete the program.

Hyatt Regency begins $25 million renovation

NICOLLET MALL — In December, the Hyatt Regency hotel at 1300 Nicollet Mall began a $25 million dollar renovation that will refresh the hotel’s 533 guest rooms and its public spaces. Scheduled to be complete in late spring, the new look of the hotel was designed by firm Stonehill & Taylor to reflect the local culture and history of Minnesota.

“The guest rooms are getting gutted,” said Hyatt Regency general manager Randy Thompson. “We’re taking it down to the studs and replacing it all. We’ve taken the opportunity to address a lot of different issues that will improve the rooms significantly.”

Among those improvements are locally sourced construction elements, textiles and art, as well as better lighting, new beds, better connectivity for business travelers and multiple energy efficiencies. The management will now be able to remotely reduce the energy consumption of guest rooms when not in use.

The renovation will also upgrade the lobby and the hotel restaurant. “It will be a much more inviting, much more welcoming space,” said Thompson of the redesigned lobby. Thompson wasn’t ready to reveal plans for the restaurant space yet, but did say that it will be a new restaurant concept with an all-new menu and design.

“It’s exciting that we’re now going to have a product that’s more reflective of the Hyatt brand,” said Thompson. “This is certainly going to improve the hotel package that bring to downtown.”

Masu Sushi & Robata in Northeast is planning to open a second location at the Mall of America this spring.

The new restaurant is set to open a year after the first location on East Hennepin.

Masu specializes in contemporary Japanese cuisine with a variety of noodle dishes, sushi and robata (veggies and meats grilled and served on skewers).

“While we’re staying true to the Masu concept, this is our opportunity to play around, have some fun, and refine a few things,” said Sephan Hesse, Masu’s corporate executive chef.

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