Laurel Village's Mpls. Caf/, 1110 Hennepin Ave. S., will close Dec. 31 after an eight-year run.
The Mediterranean caf/, which features Spanish, Italian and Moroccan cuisine, will be incorporated into a new three-tiered restaurant planned for the Stimson Building, which is wrapped around the Pantages Theater at North 7th Street & Hennepin Avenue South. The new restaurant is slated to open spring 2005.
David Fhima, Mpls. Caf/'s owner and executive chef, said he was at odds with Laurel Village on planned renovations of the space and decided the caf/ would fare better at the Stimson Building, which occupies a prime corner in the heart of the Hennepin Avenue entertainment and theater district.
The Mpls. Caf/ was located at the Calhoun Beach Club in Uptown for four years before opening in Laurel Village in 1996.
Laurel Village's Property Manager James Baumgartner did not return a phone call for comment. Other fine-dining restaurants in the three-block apartment complex, which spans Hennepin Avenue South, between North 11th and 13th streets, have closed in recent years.
The Mpls. Caf/'s weekend salsa scene will be temporarily moved to a private room at Fhima's namesake, Fhima's in downtown St. Paul. When the Stimson tapas restaurant/nightclub opens, the salsa scene will return to Downtown.
"We're going to redevelop the whole club format," Fhima said. "People in the old days used to go to club for one simple reason: To dance and have fun. We want to bring that back with a contemporary feel to it."
Mpls. Caf/'s 30 employees will not be laid off. Instead, they'll be reassigned to other Fhima restaurants, such as Fhima's; Edina's Louis XIII; Lo To, a bakery/caf//bar slated to open in St. Paul this fall; or the yet-to-be-named Stimson restaurant.
The caf/ will close with a special party Dec. 31 for its last night. "We are going to throw a party like this town has not seen," Fhima said.