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December 8, 2003 // UPDATED 11:09 am - April 30, 2007
By: Skyway News editorial staff
Skyway News editorial staff

Business related items going on in the Downtown Minneapolis area.

Royal Orchid returns to Minneapolis The Royal Orchid Best Thai restaurant is opening in a new Downtown location in January in the skyway level of the Northstar Building, 625 Marquette Ave.

Owners and siblings Nida and Pat Sukhtipyaroge have a restaurant in Roseville and used to run one at 1835 Nicollet Ave. S. in the Stevens Square neighborhood until 1999.

The Sukhtipyaroges left their native Thailand in the 1970s to attend school in Minnesota and after years of prodding from friends, the brother-and-sister pair decided to open a restaurant together, said Nida Sukhtipyaroge.

Although they have backgrounds in computing, their passion was entertaining friends and family with Thai cuisine.

Royal Orchid offers fresh, authentic Thai fare. The restaurant is known for its Pad Thai -- a spicy noodle dish with crushed peanuts.

The 2,000-square-foot skyway restaurant will be open Monday through Friday during the lunch hour.

Most dishes will cost under $10. -- Sarah McKenzie

Credit union opens with toy drive, music and cooking To commemorate the opening of its new Downtown branch this week, TopLine Federal Credit Union is sponsoring a toy donation drive for families in need.

The new branch is located in the skyway level of the Baker Center, 730 2nd Ave. S.

The toys will be collected for families served by Community Emergency Assistance Program (CEAP) of Anoka and Hennepin communities. The nonprofit will provide low-income families with a food basket and two toys, along with a stocking stuffer for each child.

The prolonged economic downturn has prompted more families to seek assistance. Each year, the Brooklyn Park-based nonprofit helps 750 families and 2,000 children.

"CEAP is a tremendous organization with a very unique program for putting smiles on kids' faces at holiday time," said Harry Carter, president and chief executive officer of TopLine, in a prepared statement. "We're pleased that our grand opening promotion can help CEAP's program."

Those with toys to donate are asked to leave them under a "gratitude tree" in the credit union's lobby. A cash donation can also be made. Those who make contributions will receive an ornament.

There are other festivities planned for the grand opening as well. Musician Billy McLaughlin will perform on Tuesday from his album, "Into the Light," and local chef Andrew Zimmern will hold cooking demonstrations Thursday and Friday, Dec. 11-12, noon-1 p.m. He'll show people how to prepare holiday hors d'oeuvres. -- Sarah McKenzie

Indoor Farmers' Market closes An indoor holiday bazaar next to the Minneapolis Farmers' market site has closed after running afoul of city regulations.

The bazaar had been scheduled to stay open until the weekend before Christmas, Dec. 20-21. However, visits by some city officials who raised concerns about there being no second fire escape in the warehouse prompted the vendors to close up shop for the season.

More than two dozen vendors affiliated with the Minneapolis Farmers' outdoor market had sold their wares during the past month in a yellow warehouse at 200 Lyndale Ave. N., just south of the outdoor stalls.

The outdoor market closed the last weekend in October, and about 25 vendors banded together for the indoor venue on Downtown's northwestern edge.

Scott Barriball, owner of the Farmers' Market Annex, a private group of 100 vendors, said the merchants hope to have something up and running next year.

Barriball said he's thinking of draping insulated fabric over sheds at the outdoor site.

"We'd be more visible," he said. -- Sarah McKenzie

Will they open with 'Hair?' There are plenty of theaters in Minneapolis, but not many boast a salon in their midst.

The Nicollet Island/East Bank neighborhood might have such a venue on Central Avenue that includes a hair salon and a 165-seat theater.

City officials have approved plans for T.H.E. Theater Company and the Wash & Brush Up Company at 509-513 Central Ave. NE, next to the Totino's Italian Kitchen restaurant.

Developers plan to convert two vacant spaces on Central for their new venture. Mark Webb, the theater's technical director and salon's managing director, and his business partners Mike King and Tony Thomson, hope to be open by spring.

They will be renovating a space that has been vacant for years. The New Union, a non-alcoholic teen-age music club, was the last tenant to occupy the space.

All told, the theater company plans to spend about $100,000 on the rehab, King said.

The city's Planning Commission approved a conditional-use permit and a parking variance for the project. City guidelines for the site require 13 off-street parking spaces, but there is no space available.

The theater company has made an arrangement with Wells Fargo at 2329 Central Ave. NE to use the bank's parking lot after office hours.

Victor Grambsch, chair of the Nicollet Island/East Bank Association, said the organization still has concerns about parking. The neighborhood faces increasing housing and commercial development that has produced parking shortages.

Parking aside, Grambsch said the neighborhood group applauds the theater proposal.

King said the Wells Fargo lot and other lots nearby should provide adequate parking.

The theater plans to host original productions with an emphasis on musicals. King said the company plans to promote the shows with aggressive marketing campaigns geared at moving the productions on to regional theaters.

"A lot of theaters get caught up in doing theater and don't think about the business end," he said. "Original productions need to have a life of their own. A lot of theaters in the city mount a show. It runs for four weeks and then disappears."

Besides the salon and theater, the space will also house an art gallery. Artists will be able to display up to 30 pieces. -- Sarah McKenzie