Biz buzz: Whole Foods confirms plans for downtown grocery store

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February 27, 2012
By: Jeremy Zoss
Jeremy Zoss
HENNEPIN — Whole Foods has been confirmed as the anchor tenant for the residential/retail development on the site of the former Jaguar dealership at the corner of Hennepin and Washington.

City Hall sources told The Journal that Whole Foods would be the grocery tenant in the development last August.

“For a long time, most people had assumed it was Whole Foods,” said Mark Schoening, senior vice president for developer Ryan Cos. “Nobody could confirm it and now we can. It’s kind of a pleasure.”

The development, known as 222 Hennepin, will feature around 280 market-rate apartments. The Whole Foods location will occupy a 38,000-square-foot space on the first floor, which will include a liquor store. Both the Whole Foods location and the residential portion of the project are scheduled to open in late summer or early fall of 2013.

The downtown Whole Foods will be the fourth Minnesota store for the chain, which opened a Minnetonka location in October and will open another in Edina on April 18.

“We look forward to adding to our existing locations in the Twin Cities,” said Michael Bashaw, Whole Foods Midwest regional president, in a statement. “The Twin Cities is definitely an area of growth for us and we’re extremely excited to expand our offering of natural and organic products to an even greater customer base,”

The former Jaguar dealership site has been envisioned as a site of a residential/retail mixed use development for years. In 2005, Seattle-based Milliken Development Group purchased the site and proposed a 290-unit condo building with Whole Foods as an anchor tenant.

Smalley’s 87 Club to reopen as Alley Sports Tavern

Smalley’s 87 Club, which replaced the former Champp’s location at 100 6th St. N., has closed. But Twins fans who frequented the bar near Target Field needn’t worry — the bar should reopen in early March under the new ownership and with a new name: Alley Sports Tavern.

Alley Sports Tavern owner Russell King said the space is going through several small remodeling projects, such as closing off the kitchen and adding new, larger televisions. “We’re making sure everyone in the place has a great view of two or three games so they can keep track of what’s going on,” King said.

The menu is also undergoing a renovation. The wine, beer and drink list is being rebuilt, and King said the new food offerings will be slightly more upscale than Smalley’s, but the new menu isn’t a complete reinvention.

“We’re not letting it get outside of the sports bar theme,” King said. “We’ll have much more interesting burgers, much cooler fries, much more current appetizers.”

He listed a stuffed buffalo bleu cheese burger, stout-stuffed burger, walleye chips and The Alley’s version of a Waldorf Salad as signature menu items.

The Alley Sports Tavern will be open year-round for lunch, dinner and happy hour.

Panera Bread in Northeast closes, new tenants on the way

EAST HENNEPIN — The Panera Bread location at 233 E. Hennepin Ave. closed Feb. 21 after being in business for nearly a decade.

However, the space will not stay vacant long. Building owner Dan Hunt confirmed that the Panera location would be divided up and that two new tenants would soon be announced for the site. One will be a restaurant and bar. Members of the Nicollet Island-East Bank Neighborhood Association previously indicated that the second tenant would likely be a new Jimmy John’s sandwich shop.  

The Brick announces opening plans

WAREHOUSE DISTRICT — New music venue The Brick, 111 5th St. N., has announced a grand opening date of March 15 as well as its initial lineup of events. Veteran rockers Jane’s Addiction will play the first show on March 19.

The initial lineup is as follows:

· Jane’s Addiction Monday, March 19
· Brit Floyd Wednesday, March 28
· Feed Me Friday, March 30
· Beats Antique Saturday, April 14
· Hunter Hayes Thursday, April 19
· Incubus Wednesday, May 9
· Slash Monday, May 14
· Marilyn Manson Friday, May 18
· The Shins Friday, June 1

Tickets for the first concerts went on sale Feb. 17. Tickets for all shows at The Brick will be available through or

New lunch menu at Sea Change

MILL DISTRICT — Tim McKee’s Sea Change restaurant in the Guthrie Theater is a well-known destination for theatergoers, but it’s not often thought of as a lunch spot. That may change thanks to a revamped lunch menu, which is more diverse and affordable than many diners may realize.

Sea Change chef de cuisine Jamie Malone launched the new lunch menu in late January. In addition to adding the restaurant’s dinnertime raw bar, the new menu includes many non-seafood options, including Chef Malone’s favorite, a playful take on the traditional bologna sandwich.

“It’s a really accessible lunch menu,” Malone said. “Nice food that you can eat more than once a week, that’s kind of my goal.”

Sea Change opens for lunch at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday through Sunday. All items on the new lunch menu are priced at $15 or less, including a prixe fixe option. Sea Change will switch to its seasonal spring dinner menu in March.

Wellman’s Pub moving into former Drink space

WAREHOUSE DISTRICT — Signs on the windows of the former Drink location at 26 5th St. N. declare that the space will soon be reborn as Wellman’s Pub. While that name might not be familiar to Minneapolis residents, Wellman’s Pub operates two other locations in Iowa. The original location in Des Moines opened in 1982 added a second location in West Des Moines in 2010.

A manager at the original location confirmed that Wellman’s would move into the former Drink space, but declined to say more. Wellman’s Pub owner Tom Baldwin did not return calls for comment.

Rosa Mexicano introduces Flavors of Mexico series

Rosa Mexicano, 609 Hennepin Ave., will offer the special menu “Eclectic Cuts: The Art of Butchery,” the first event in the restaurant’s annual Flavors of Mexico program. It runs Feb. 22–March 11.

Each year, the programs highlights cuisine from various regions of Mexico, designed by guest culinary advisors.

The 2012 Flavors of Mexico program was developed by Jonathan Waxman, an acclaimed West Coast chef who has written several cookbooks and appeared on “Top Chef Masters.”

The Eclectic Cuts menu is built around dishes many diners would consider daring, including veal tongue tacos, crispy sweetbreads, pork cheeks and lamb neck enchiladas.

Mill City Farmers Market heads to the Arboretum

The Mill Cities Farmers Market will return for its annual run at the Mill City Museum in May, but you don’t have to wait that long to sample some of its locally produced items. The Mill City Market will hold a special one-time event at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska on Saturday, March 17.

The special presentation of the Mill City Farmers Market will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Oswald Visitor Center Great Hall in the Arboretum. The Market will feature a variety of locally produced goods, including jams, maple syrup, cheeses, soaps and much more.

The Mill City Farmers Market is held every Saturday between the Guthrie Theater and Spoonriver, May 12–Oct. 27.


Butcher & The Boar, the new restaurant from former Dakota chef Jack Riebel, has announced an opening date of March 6. Riebel stated in the feature about the restaurant in the last issue that he hoped to open by the end of February.

Behind the Scenes Boutique, a new women’s fashion store at 1026 Washington Ave. S., was initially projected to open on Feb. 18. The store has now announced an opening date of March 3.

Eat Street Social, the second restaurant by the proprietors of Northeast Social, is now open. The restaurant at 18 26th St. W. opened its doors on Feb. 9.

Because of the mild winter, 2012’s street food season has begun early The Twisted Sister House of Hunger food truck hit downtown for lunch service on Feb. 20 and will continue weather permitting.

Coffee Gallery, the independent coffee shop now located inside Open Book/The Loft Literary Center, will celebrate 20 years in business with a customer appreciation day with special activities and discounts on March 2.

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