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St Paul Round-up



The owners of Dixie’s, Saji-Ya and Emmett’s restaurants on Grand Avenue were slated to meet with the Summit Hill Association and property neighbors in late January to discuss plans for major mixed-use redevelopment, with apartments above the Grand Avenue mainstays. The owners were staying mum about the proposal as Foodservice News went to press.

At University and Dale, Big Daddy’s Bar-B-Que  could become part of another redevelopment project. That restaurant’s building and neighborhood structures could make way for a six-story mixed-use senior housing and commercial project. Neighborhood Development Center, which offices around the corner, is the developers. Restaurant founders Ron Whyte, Bob Edmond and Gene Sampson recently sold the University Avenue icon to chef Manuel Tacuri. Tacuri led the Big Daddy’s kitchen for a decade before taking the helm. 

Buildings on University and Dale, and a vacant lot long occupied by a church, are the project site. The developers are in the process of seeking city approval to purchase the vacant lot. 

To the east at University and Western, the transformation of the former Mai Village space into Long Cheng Plaza is nearing completion. The space has a new look while retaining many of the beautiful wood carvings, the koi pond and bridge from Mai Village. Diners may also welcome the proposed return of dim sum. Mai Village closed in November 2016, taking its popular Sunday dim sum offering with it. An Asian fusion restaurant, Tapestry, opened in the space in December 2017. It joined Sota Hot and Cold rolled ice cream, which is in the front portion of the building. Monkon is slated to go into the bar area and offer sushi soon. The dining area will serve as a common space for patrons of the three businesses. Building owner Hmong American Partnership hired chef Tieng Vang to lead the restaurant. Tapestry is a place where cooks, servers and chefs can learn their craft and become more proficient in English. 

Carbone’s on Randolph shut its doors in early January, but the closing is temporary. The restaurant is expanding into a storefront to the east of its highland spot, and adding accessible restrooms. The work will take several weeks. Another Highland fixture, Tiffany’s, unveiled its expanded space late last year.

Tori Ramen was able to reopen its doors in early January, less than a month after a basement fire caused significant smoke damage to the Selby Avenue restaurant. The fire didn’t affect vegan neighbor J. Selby’s.. 

Holman’s Table opened at the vacant Holman Field Airport restaurant space, just in time for Super Bowl guests.

But much of late 2017 and early 2018 has been that of closings. Midway mainstay Tracks Bar and Grill closed after 15 year in operation. The bar/restaurant was part of Midway Days Inn.

Blue Plate’s Bottle Rocket restaurant closed in December after 10 short months. The St. Clair Avenue spot’s Facebook page indicates that Bottle Rocket may best be suited for fast casual. The busy Blue Plate folks are working with HMSHost on a new restaurant at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Another Macalester-Groveland place that shut its doors before Christmas was Michigan-based Espresso Royale. The Fairview-Randolph coffee shop was one of three in the Twin Cities that closed. Downtown Minneapolis and Dinkytown locales also closed. Low sales and increased competition are to blame.

And just across the St. Paul north border in Roseville, Maverick’s called it quits in early January. The restaurant, which served up its signature roast beef sandwiches, had been open since 1999. Brothers Bret and Bart Hazlett were named after characters in the TV show “Maverick.” It was their father’s favorite show. Bret had operated the restaurant on his own after Bart and two of his children were killed in a motor vehicle accident in 2011. 

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