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March 7, 2005 // UPDATED 1:52 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Jeremy Stratton
Jeremy Stratton

East Bank

A Monday-morning grease fire has closed Best Steak House, 317 Central Ave. SE. The grease grate that covered the grill caught fire, said Victor Lee, whose family has owned the business for four years. Although Lee quickly extinguished the flames, the fire had already spread into the vertical vent above the grill, which opens above the roof.

"People on the street saw it,' said Lee. "They were pointing, saying 'The roof's on fire!'"

The Fire Department arrived and put out the remaining fire. Firefighters had to "completely smash" the rooftop hood that covers the vent, according to Lee. The restaurant - which was scheduled to close next month for the redevelopment of the Eastgate Shopping Center - will not reopen.

Lee said he had hoped to have a free customer-appreciation lunch for his loyal regulars before shutting down.

"[Best Steak House] had a good history, with many repeat customers," Lee said. The restaurant existed under previous owners for close to 20 years, he said.

Lee hopes to relocate the restaurant but has not yet found a replacement space.

The day also marked the end of Happy Garden Chinese restaurant, 305 Central Ave. SE. Happy Garden owner Tian Li had purchased the restaurant two months earlier; shortly after, he was notified his lease would be terminated to make way for the area's redevelopment.

Complications from the sale and subsequent termination of his lease forced Li to close the business. There are no plans to reopen or relocate.

North Loop

Edina Realty has opened its Downtown office at 226 Washington Ave. N., in the old Pacific Flats building.

According to Edina Realty Sales Manager Matt Loskota, his is the only "major brokerage" Downtown and marks Edina's first presence in here in 15 years, since it moved its South 11th Street & Nicollet Mall offices to Uptown's Calhoun Square.

Loskota cited the Downtown's population, currently near 30,000 and rising, as the reason for the brokerage's return. "I'd like to think every one of them are our customers," he said.

"Clearly [Downtown's] population is growing," said Loskota, who said he'd heard estimates of 5,000-11,000 new units coming in the near future.

Loskota said that Edina Realtors are working with owners of many newly built or under-construction condo units Downtown.

The 3,200-square-foot street office currently has 15-20 Realtors working out of it; that number should rise to 30 by year's end, Loskota said. Also on-site are a full-time loan officer and title services. Customers can find, finance, and close on a property from the same office.

"It's a one-stop shop," Loskota said.

For more information, the Downtown Edina Realty office can be reached at 347-8000.

Central Business District

India Bazaar International Gifts, 413 Nicollet Mall, will close its doors as early as March 31, according to store Manager Kanak Agrewal. The store's inventory of imported merchandise is currently discounted; items for sale include clothing, hats, belts and wallets, swords and knives, gold and silver jewelry, watches, and other ornamental gifts. Agrewal and the store's owner are both from India.

Agrewal said that poor sales led to the decision to close. She is disappointed by the closing, which will mark the end of 35 years in business, 28 at the original location on South 7th Street & Hennepin Avenue.

"I cried when we left that place," said Agrewal. "That was a good place."

The current location was not as good for business, she said. Some inventory may be auctioned off; Agrewal said she would like to relocate, but high rents might be a hindrance to finding a new space Downtown.

Agrewal said that she would like to remain open past April 1, but that a new unidentified tenant is expected to occupy the space on May 1.