Biz buzz: Smack Shack opening restaurant on Washington

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April 9, 2012
By: Jeremy Zoss and Michelle Bruch
Jeremy Zoss and Michelle Bruch

NORTH LOOP — Soon you’ll have another option for your Smack Shack lobster rolls. The crew behind the food truck has announced plans to open a restaurant in late June.

“It’s kind of a further development of our concept,” said Smack Shack owner Josh Thoma. “It’s a casual, coastal menu and design.”

The new restaurant will be at the corner of 6th and Washington. The space was formerly the annex of the Holden Graphics building and is approximately 7,500 square feet. It will seat about 150 inside. On warm days, an outdoor patio on the former loading dock space will seat roughly 60 more.

The Smack Shack restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner and feature all of the items found on the food truck and more. Thoma said the po’boy sandwich menu will be expanded, with a daily po’boy special likely. While the menu will be heavily built around what Thoma calls “casual coastal” seafood, there will be non-seafood offerings as well.

“Fried chicken,” said Thoma. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do in a restaurant and I’ve never had a venue to do it.”

The Smack Shack food truck will continue to operate as normal and will continue to appear at its off-season home, the 1029 Bar in Northeast. The Smack Shack was also recently filmed for an episode of “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” which will air on the Food Network on April 9. A viewing party will be held for the episode at the 109 Bar on April 9, starting at 4 p.m.

Cowboy Jack’s coming to downtown

WAREHOUSE DISTRICT — The Cowboy Jack’s chain, which has locations in several Twin Cities suburbs and a sister restaurant in Uptown, Cowboy Slims, is coming to downtown. The new location will be located close to Target Field in the home of the never-opened Ahern’s Pub.

The 14,000-square-foot space will be patterned after the Bloomington Cowboy Jack’s, one of the larger restaurants in the chain. The space may host some acoustic music performances, and Cowboy Jack’s owners the After Midnight Group are exploring rooftop seating for the location.

Cowboy Jack’s menu offers familiar comfort food such as ribs, burgers and chicken wings. After Midnight Group is looking at a late April or early May opening.

New Bohemia taking over former Panera space

EAST HENNEPIN — The next resident of the former Panera Bread space on East Hennepin has been revealed, a restaurant and bar concept called New Bohemia. Co-owner Jeff Bornmann called the new restaurant a “reinterpretation of the traditional beer hall.”

New Bohemia will feature around 40 beers, including Belgian, German and local craft beers. The menu will feature beer hall staples such as sausages, Belgian fries and dipping sauces. Bornmann said New Bohemia will be a place to grab a quick lunch, dinner or happy hour snack. Later on weekend nights, New Bohemia will transition to more of a bar atmosphere and feature some entertainment such as DJs.

New Bohemia will take over about 2,800 square feet of the former Panera space and accommodate around 110 guests. The remaining portion of the space will become a new Jimmy John’s franchise.

Bornmann said New Bohemia will feature several surprises that will make the restaurant stand out, but he’s not ready to reveal what they might be just yet.

“We’re going to be employing some new technologies that will keep things young and fresh,” he said. “We really felt like Northeast had the best demographics to try out a new concept.”

More food trucks head downtown

Street food season has only just begun, but a flurry of new mobile food vendors have already announced their plans for downtown food service. Some feature names which are already familiar to local foodies, while others are brand new.

Stanley’s Barroom in Northeast announced that its new truck, Stanley’s on Wheels, will hit downtown in mid-April. The truck will serve several of the bar’s signature items, including the Reuben sandwich, barbeque beef brisket nachos, soft pretzels and Oreo brownies. Stanley’s on Wheels will serve downtown four days a week.

St. Paul food truck Potter’s Pasties is also considering an expansion to downtown Minneapolis.

One of the first new food trucks downtown this year will likely be Bloomy’s Roast Beef. Founders Ryan Bloomstrom and Katie Johnson raised the funds for their truck via a Kickstarter campaign and expect to be on the streets in mid-April.

Foxy Falafel is also hitting the road. Owner Erica Strait recently purchased a 1969 Ford Step Van that she plans to refurbish and get on the road as early as April. Strait said the food truck will offer the same menu customers have come to know, and have the same familiar logo.

Though she would not offer details about menu additions until the menu was finalized, the expanded kitchen will allow her to add some new Mediterranean and Middle Eastern fare, she said.

“I’m really excited to be debuting some new menu items,” Strait said. “I’ve got some fun new food up my sleeve.”

Strait said she has been looking for a food truck for the last two years so she could delve fully into the Twin Cities’ street food community, which she says provides  diners with a “sense of adventure.”

The truck will travel to St. Paul, but Strait will maintain a presence at the Kingfield Farmers Market and will be at the new Linden Hills Farmers Market.

“This was a scary step, but I’m super excited to get it [the truck] painted, make it my own, make it Foxy,” she said.

Familia Headquarters brings indoor skateboarding to Northeast

EAST HENNEPIN — East Hennepin has seen its share of new businesses lately, such as the recently opened Eli’s East and the upcoming Rusty Taco. Another new operation has joined their ranks, and it is something completely different for the area: an indoor skateboard park.

Familia Headquarters was scheduled to open its doors on April 7 at 835 E. Hennepin Ave. The 10,000-square-foot indoor skate park is being built by California Skateparks and is an extension of the Familia Skateboard Shop in Uptown, owned by professional skateboarder Steve Nesser.

The skateboard-only park will focus on “street-oriented” skating, meaning no big ramps or bowls. Instead, it will focus on the types of features that might attract skaters outside, such as ledges, handrails and stairs. The venue will host small events such as skills demonstrations and contests, but will mostly focus on giving local skateboarders a place to practice their craft.

“It’s always been something we’ve wanted to do,” said Nesser. “We’ve been keeping our eye open for the right place. Plus, the weather’s crappy here a lot of the time, so it’s good to have a place to skate inside.”

Celebrate ‘Yarn Around The World’ at Crafty Planet

AUDUBON PARK — Northeast’s Crafty Planet is one of 14 Twin Cities-area yarn shops participating in the sixth annual Minnesota Yarn Shop Hop, a program designed to promote local businesses, encourage creativity and stock local food shelves.

Participants are encouraged to visit to plan a trip to all 14 participating yarn shops April 12–15. Each shop will offer a unique Yarn Around The World knitting project pattern, a limited edition yarn and a unique collectable charm. The charms are available only in exchange for a cash or food donation to a local food shelf. Each store visit also earns participants stamps good toward a grand prize drawing for over $2,000 of knitting supplies.

Crafty Planet, 2833 Johnson St. NE, will also feature daily door prize drawings and workshops for new knitters. The Twin Cities area has the most yarn shops per capita anywhere in the country.


TruStone Financial, formerly Teacher Federal Credit Union, has merged with the Ukrainian Credit Union. The credit union is celebrating with a grand opening on April 20 and 21 at its location in the Ukrainian Event Center, 301 Main St. NE.

Home and apparel store martinpatrick3 is expanding. The store will take over the ID/Inside Design space next door, adding about 1,000 square feet. The expansion will allow for more home furnishings and men’s apparel.

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