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May 3, 2004 // UPDATED 1:27 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

Quiznos opens by Six Quebec

A Quiznos Sub shop has opened in the skyway level of the former Firstar Building at 601 Marquette Ave.

The old office tower, now called the Six Quebec, has undergone an ambitious rehab to make way for 21 new high-end condos.

The shop's hours are 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday-Friday; and 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday.

Downtown has three other Quiznos, including one at the LaSalle Plaza building, 800 LaSalle Ave.; the Retek on the Mall building, 950 Nicollet Mall; and one set to open near the University of St. Thomas Law School at 1100 Harmon Place.

The Harmon Place Quiznos was set to open the first week of April in a street-level retail space in a parking ramp at Harmon Place and South 11th Street, but construction delays have pushed back the opening date to Thursday, May 6, said the store's franchisee Ashwin Patel.

Zelo seeks bigger sidewalk caf/

Downtown restaurant Zelo, 831 Nicollet Mall, has received city approval for an expanded sidewalk caf/.

The new seating will include 10 new tables. Under city ordinance, Zelo, an upscale Italian restaurant, is required to keep an eight-foot walkway to avoid clogging pedestrian traffic on Nicollet Mall.

The application cleared the City Council's Public Safety and Regulatory Services on April 21, and the full Council was expected to approve the license request April 30, after this issue of Skyway News went to press.

Sidewalk cafes on Nicollet Mall have become increasingly popular but have also irked some walkers who feel squeezed when trying to navigate the outdoor tables.

City inspectors have cracked down on the outdoor cafes in recent summers to ensure restaurants are leaving pedestrians enough space to get around the extra seating.

Private group to transform Hennepin flophouse to luxury hotel, restaurant

Hennepin Avenue's old Fairmont Hotel, a run-down flophouse that has stood vacant for more than two years, will be transformed into an upscale "boutique" hotel, under plans announced by a group of private investors April 27.

The hotel at 9 S. 9th St. will be called the Chambers, based on the hotel in midtown Manhattan designed by renowned architect David Rockwell. The hotel is known for its impressive collection of modern artwork.

The award-winning Stillwater restaurant La Belle Vie, owned by restaurateurs Tim McKee and Josh Thoma, will also move into the hotel. The pair owns Solera, 900 Hennepin Ave. S., across the street, a Spanish-influenced tapas restaurant and bar.

Besides La Belle Vie, the hotel will feature a caf/, rooftop bar and event space, and an exclusive nightclub based on a club in the Mercer in New York City known as the Underbar.

Ralph Burnet, the lead investor on the $14 million project, said the "boutique" hotel will be the first of its kind in the region. The small, personalized and pricey hotels have become popular on the Coasts but have yet to break into the Midwest, which has been dominated by large hotel chains.

"Boutiques are smaller and more intimate and generally driven by high design," said Burnet, chairman of Coldwell Banker Burnet Realty. "We're airlifting in theory the same concept to the Twin Cities -- it's filled with art; it's high design; it's very intimate service."

Ryan Companies will start gutting the building in May. Construction is expected to be completed by spring 2005.

The Fairmont Hotel, built in 1908, opened as a paint store owned by the Gamble Ludwig Company. The hotel opened above the store, catering to middle-class guests. Years later, it served as housing for 39 low-income tenants and featured a head shop and pornography store at street level.

The Chambers will feature 24 "spacious" suites, Burnet said. Prices haven't been set yet but are expected to cost about $350 a night.

"This isn't going to serve everybody, but with 24 suites, we didn't expect to. ... It's the type of hotel that you come back a second time and everybody knows you," he said.

Burnet is partnering with 21 investors on the project, including Ira Drukier, a prominent "boutique" hotel developer in New York City who owns that location's Chambers.

The developers behind the Fairmont rehab won't be seeking city subsidies, he said.

"The whole Theater District there is just getting hotter virtually by Solera knocking the cover off the ball across the street, and obviously, you have the Orpheum, the State Theater, Pantages ... I just love the location. It's going to be fantastic," Burnet said.

While the Chambers and La Belle Vie are billed as high-end, catering to customers with fine tastes, Burnet said there would be something for everything, including younger theatergoers.

"The flagship will be La Belle Vie and then we'll have a caf/, which will serve anything from a cheeseburger and a pizza all the way up to a steak or Mahi tuna," he said. "It's like a pre- and post-theater, pre- and post-Target Center menu."

Modern artwork will be featured prominently throughout the hotel. The details are still in the works, but some of Burnet's pieces, which include a large collection of work by Young British Artists, known as YBAs, will likely be on display, he said.

La Belle Vie and Solera's McKee called the Fairmont rehab "one of the most exciting projects I can remember in Minneapolis."

He said the Stillwater restaurant's format will change slightly to appeal to a new, broader customer base Downtown. The caf/ on the street level will be more casual, while the fine-dining restaurant on the hotel's lower level will cater to customers looking for a more special, refined dining experience.

Tom Hoch, chair of the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association and head of the Historic Theatre Group, which manages the State, Orpheaum and Pantages theaters, said the project is another "affirmation" that Hennepin Avenue has become the key destination spot in the city.

"I'd like to think that the investment by property owners in the streetscape along Hennepin Avenue and the vibrancy of the Hennepin Theatre District contributed to the desirability of this location," he said. "Having walked past that building for years, I am thrilled that its bright future is secured."