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December 6, 2004 // UPDATED 4:51 pm - April 25, 2007
By: East Bank
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By Sarah McKenzie

McNamara's Irish Sports Bar, a popular East Bank hamburger joint owned by 1950s Gophers football star Bob McNamara, is moving across the street into the former Union Grill and Bar space in the United Labor Centre, 312 Central Ave. SE.

The new McNamara's will feature most of the sports memorabilia collected over the years by the football legend. "We have to be a little more selective," McNamara said, noting the new restaurant has less wall space.

Those who want to have their picture on the wall will be asked to make a contribution to a fund-raising effort to building a new University of Minnesota football stadium, he said.

The sports hangout will be open by the end of December, he said. Mac's celebrated its 47th anniversary Nov. 30. The football legend opened the restaurant as a 25-year-old.

McNamara plans to turn over management to a new crew led by Mike Curry. Other partners include Johnny Christensen and Jim Fehrenkamp. The group worked together as bartenders at William's Pub in Uptown.

"I'm going to be a small minority partner. I'll be a consultant and help with promotions," McNamara said.

Loring Park

By Sarah McKenzie

A new beauty spot, Salon Blu, has opened at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, 1300 Nicollet Mall.

The new salon has opened in the hotel's new Greenway Plaza on the second floor near The Oceanaire and Manny's Steakhouse.

The salon's owner Mai Ho said she offers a range of beauty services for men and women. She also specializes in hairdos for special events, such as weddings.

Men's haircuts start at $25 and women's cuts $35. Other treatments, such as foils are $70, and updos, $60. Facials and waxing services are also available.

Ho said she named her new business Salon Blu after her favorite color, but decided to drop the "e." "I just like the look of it better," she said.

Salon hours are Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

East Bank

By Sarah McKenzie

An old-fashioned holiday tree and wreath lot called the Christmas Tree Ranch has opened next to the Wilde Roast Caf/ and Query Books at Hennepin & Central avenues.

The tree lot will be open daily until Dec. 20, said Rick Boraas, one of the managers of the Christmas Tree Ranch.

The lot sells Fraser Firs, Balsam Firs, wreaths and a roping made of cedar and white pine. Tree prices range $19 to $69 and wreaths are $15. The rope is $1.50 per foot.

Tree lot hours are Monday-Friday, 3-9 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-9 p.m.

Hennepin Entertainment District

By Sarah McKenzie

Celebrity four-star chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, who has ties to 15 restaurants around the world, has been selected as the restaurateur for the Chambers boutique hotel under construction at South 9th Street & Hennepin Avenue.

Vongerichten, known as Jean-Georges in culinary circles, and business partner Phil Suarez will operate an Asian-themed restaurant, according to statement released Dec. 1 by Jacqueline Hanson, a public relations consultant for Ralph Burnet, lead partner of RWB Development -- a group of investors behind the Chambers.

"Jean-Georges is a well-recognized name throughout the entire food world," Burnet said. "He's extremely creative and talented, and we're excited to see what he decides to do here in Minneapolis."

Some Jean-Georges restaurants include New York City's Jean-Georges in the Trump International Hotel, Mercer Kitchen in the Mercer Hotel, and Spice Market and Vong, which has locations in Chicago, Hong Kong and New York City.

The 53-room Chambers is expected to open spring 2006. Currently, the block is home to the old Fairmont Hotel, a former flophouse that has been vacant for several years. The ProColor building at 909 Hennepin Ave. S. will also be razed to make way for the 85,000-square-foot luxury hotel.

"It says something about the growing sophistication of Twin Cities diners and the Twin Cities dining scene that he's selected our city for his next restaurant," Burnet said. "He's going to be a great addition to Chambers and to Downtown."

Originally, Chambers was scheduled to house the relocated Stillwater restaurant La Belle Vie. However, La Belle Vie's owners pulled out when Burnet decided to expand onto the ProColor site, delaying the hotel's opening date from 2005 into 2006.