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July 18, 2005 // UPDATED 1:56 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Jeremy Stratton
Jeremy Stratton

Nicollet Mall

Sawatdee Express closed its doors at 1005 Nicollet Mall July 15, but co-owner Vipada Phouthavongxay hopes to reappear on the Downtown scene in three to four months.

The restaurant follows the exit of Let It Be Records to make room for The Nicollet on the Mall, the 50-story condominium tower that will rise atop the former retail spots and the adjacent building now owned by the Church of Scientology.

Phouthavongxay co-owns the restaurant with her mother, Nith Phouthavongxay and Supann Harrison. The trio would like to keep the restaurant within two to four blocks of the current location. Phouthavongxay said they are looking at several spots - one of them on Nicollet Mall - but have not yet signed a contract.

Warehouse District

The Lounge is getting a new owner who likes what he sees at the nightclub. Brian Bell of Secure Entertainment said he "really won't be making any changes" at 411 2nd Ave. S.

Bell has met with Minneapolis Police Department Crime-Prevention Specialist Luther Krueger about his security plan and is already attending monthly bar owners' association meetings.

An ownership change requires new city licenses; the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association recommended that the city approve sidewalk seating, sidewalk sales and "late night entertainment" licensure that allows the bar to serve food and nonalcoholic drinks until 3 a.m. The Lounge currently has such licenses.

Loring Park

The Lund's project in Loring Park is close to adding a third building.

On July 12, John Pazahanick, the grocer's senior vice president of business development, told the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association that Lund would close soon on the building at the corner of South 13th Street & Harmon Place, currently home to Hi Fi Sound, Nash Frame Design and Fast Print.

Pazahanick said Lund is talking with those tenants about remaining in the building, and that Punch Pizza might also be interested in opening a restaurant there.

Hennepin Avenue

On Friday, July 8, Caf di Napoli said "arrivederci" to its customers after 67 years at 814 Hennepin Ave. S. Members of the Piazza family, who ran the restaurant, could not be reached for comment.

The restaurant was a local favorite whose star seemed to have faded in recent years.

"I remember eating there 40, 50 years ago, when I was a kid," said Minneapolis Police Officer Ron Reier, who moved Downtwon, near Caf di Napoli, two years ago. "I ate there about a year ago and was surprised it was still there."

Local restaurateur John Rimarcik said his family - and many others - ate there once a week 40 years ago, and he recalled di Napoli's Italian fare and "great restaurant charm."

"Everybody had their favorite dish," Rimarcik said.

The closing came suddenly, with a sign in the windows but no explanation as to why.

"I think if people had known ahead of time, everybody would have gone back for a nostalgic meal," Rimarcik said.

Central Business District

"I am so excited," said Dena Modica of selling her 933 Marquette Ave. bridal shop, now called Dena Marie Bridal and Tux, to Karen Bell. The deal, sealed last week, will move the store to Roseville's Rosedale Commons Mall Sept. 1.

The situation is ideal for both women. Modica, who suffers from Parkinson's Disease, was forced to begin closing the store earlier this year. New dress orders were suspended in May.

Now, Modica will continue to work at the shop while Bell, who has sewing and alteration experience and has managed a bridal shop for almost two years, takes on ownership and business duties, in addition to some sales.

The sale marks the end of "an emotional roller coaster ride," Modica said, and it softens uncertainty about her future. The "de-stressing" will help her deal with her condition, she said.