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October 10, 2005 // UPDATED 1:58 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Jeremy Stratton
Jeremy Stratton

Hennepin Avenue

Restaurants are falling like dominoes near the 600 block of Hennepin Avenue. The latest is the Olive Garden, which closed Sept. 30 at the Plymouth Building, 533 Hennepin Ave. S. The restaurant is the third in a block-long row of national chains to close in the past several months; Copeland’s of New Orleans and TGI Friday’s shutdown ahead of a City Center face lift. Another chain restaurant, Nick and Tony’s Chophouse,

closed down the block at 50 S. 6th St. in

recent months.

Tom Shannon, president of Plymouth Building manager Wexford Financial, said the restaurant’s evening business was not meeting Olive Garden’s expectations. “They were happy with their lunch business,” Shannon said.

Wexford will eventually look to replace Olive Garden with another restaurant, Shannon said. Nothing is lined up yet. “This all happened pretty fast,” he said.

Shannon said it was too early to tell what type of restaurant might work in the space, but implied that it might not be another chain, citing the recently closed Copeland’s, Fridays and Nick and Tony’s.

“I don’t know that a suburban chain does as well Downtown,” Shannon said.

Central Business District

There’s fireside seating on the skyway level of the Fifth Street Towers, 100 and 150 S. 5th St., thanks to an ongoing remodel of the old Park Caf/ space. Caribou Coffee and a restaurant will complete the area’s transformation by year’s end, said Tom Heimer, general manager for building manager CB Richard Ellis.

The round, wood-paneled area is a sort of pubic lounge area, where Heimer said people may relax with a cup of coffee, make a call or log on using the area’s Wi-fi capability, which extends to the majority of the skyway level, he said.

It’s not a place to sit and have lunch, Heimer said. CB Richard Ellis wants to move away from the “cafeteria-type image” of the former Park Caf/, which closed in phases between April and July of this year. The new restaurant — yet unnamed — will likely have its own seating.

“We’re being patient to land the right one,” Heimer said of the future restaurant. Heimer said it would have a “higher touch” than Park Caf/, but still with a lunch and breakfast concept. “At this end of the skyway, you have to serve lunch and breakfast,” he said.

The remodel is an attempt to “up the ante and give a higher end feel to [the skyway level],” Heimer said.

Later this year, Fifth Street Tower tenants will have access to a new street-level fitness center for a monthly membership fee, Heimer said.

Central Business District

After nearly five years at 15th Street & LaSalle Avenue near Loring Park, JohnEll Salon is now located in the Medical Arts building, 825 Nicollet Mall, Suite 180.

Stylist John Ell offers haircuts, colors and brow shaping for men and women at the “one-man chair shop,” which he has owned for half of his 12 years as a stylist.

Ell said the Medical Arts location is more convenient for his clients, most of whom are businesspeople Downtown, he said. Ell hopes the new locale — just off Nicollet Mall — will offer more exposure for his business … but not his clients.

“It’s a relaxing, private salon, which people can go to and not feel like they’re on display,” Ell said.

Ell prefers appointments but does take walk-ins. Call 813-0648 or see www.johnell.com.

Nicollet Mall

Mama’s Bakery, Pizza and Salad Bar is now open on the skyway level of the Piper Jaffray building, 800 Nicollet Mall. The location marks the first — but probably not the last — Mama’s opened by 8th Street Grill and Park Caf/, Catering Director Loren Moe said.

Mama’s offers pizza by the slice (around $3) cut from 18-inch pies ($18). Whole pies can be delivered free of charge anywhere in the skyway system, Moe said. You can even pick them up to bake at home or in the office.

The eatery also offers a salad bar with hot items such as pasta and potatoes and serves cinnamon pull-aparts and scones, fresh-baked in-house every morning.

Moe said that the Park Caf/ in the Fifth Street Towers, 100 & 150 S. 5th St., which was closed this spring as part of a skyway-level remodeling project, would not reopen there. Park Caf/ remains open beneath the Hennepin County Government Center, 300 S. 6th St., and the 8th Street Grill still operates at 800 Marquette.

You can phone orders into Mama’s Pizza at 767-1681.

Downtown-wide

You may have seen Kenneth Bush’s face on an ad on a Downtown bus bench. The Realtor has been serving clients for more than three years, he said. Now, Bush is expanding those services with Your Home Concierge, incorporated in September.

Bush likened his services to an upscale hotel’s, but in people’s homes. Functions range from property management, relocation assistance and interior design to personal help with wardrobe, scheduling, travel arrangements, limousine and coach services, and tasks such as dry cleaning, copy and postal services, and personal shopping.

Bush said Your Home can “be a resource” for new Minneapolis residents — by connecting them with schools or neighborhood groups, for example — or one-day visitors in need of a guide or services.

“We’re not just errand runners,” Bush said. “We’ll help you achieve balance in life.”

Bush said he’s created “a network and a niche” through his realty/property management background. He said he’s “pretty in-tune with” the new Downtown market, which includes renters, senior citizens and “baby-boomers running two families, running around like crazy.”

The Web site yourhomeconciergeinc.com will be up soon, Bush said. He may be contacted at 227-1043 or 229-1043.