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St. Paul area round-up



Lots of longtime restaurants and bars are changing.  The venerable Mac’s Fish and Chips at Larpenteur and Hamline avenues could become part of a new development with Dunkin’ Donuts. The project was making its way through the St. Paul Planning Commission review and approval process in April. Mac’s has been housed for many years in a former gas station.

Dunkin’ Donuts is also eying a longtime Dairy Queen site on Snelling Avenue in the Merriam park neighborhood. The popular doughnut chain and Red’s Savoy Pizza would occupy a new one-story building. Given the neighborhood’s uproar over traffic tie-ups with Starbucks at Snelling and Marshall avenues, the developers of the old DQ site have promised there won’t be a drive-through window.

The O’Gara family and Ryan Companies continue to work on plans for transforming Selby and Snelling with a large mixed-use building. More than 100 people attended a neighborhood meeting in March to see the plans.

And then there were two. Robbinsdale Order of the Eastern Star has closed its longtime Minnesota State Fair dining hall, after an 80-year run. The building will be taken over by the folks who bring fairgoers pronto pups. The closing leaves Salem Lutheran and Hamline Methodist as the two remaining dining halls.

University Avenue bar Hot Rod’s was sold and has closed. It is located across from Midway Center and the MLS soccer stadium site. At least one other area bar, Trend Bar, is also up for sale. Look for redevelopment in that stretch of University as the 2019 stadium opening date draws nearer.

On Rice Street, two mainstays are under new ownership. Wong Café at Wheelock and Rice has been replaced by a Hook Fish and Chips outlet. Wong Café had been in business in St. Paul for 94 years. Longtime bar and grill Lonetti’s has been replaced by Tracks Bar and Grill. Tracks was previously part of the University Avenue Days Inn. Longtime Rice Street residents might remember when Lonetti’s was Schally’s and had a friendly rivalry with Kuby’s, another Rice Street bar. The two bars staged an annual old-timers’ softball game as part of Rice Street Festival.  Kuby’s replacement, a second location for Bangkok City Thai Deli, is nearing completion.

Grand Avenue is getting a new restaurant as former New York chef Rikki Giambruno opens Hyacinth Café this summer in space previously occupied by Golden Fig.

Several restaurants or proposed restaurants threw their hats in the ring for 2018 city Neighborhood Sales Tax Revitalization (STAR) funds. Downtown’s popular Afro Deli is seeking funds to build out a Sixth Street location. The West Side’s Wabasha Brewing is seeking funds for improvements including a bocce ball court. Taste of Rondo seeks money to convert a former Summit-University private club into a restaurant. 

University Avenue’s Town House is seeking upgrades including improved accessibility for patrons. Also, in Midway, Sabrina’s Café & Deli and Snelling Coffee are also vying for funding.

Keg & Case Marketplace has two projects, cheese bar Gazta & Enhancements and Pimento Jamaican Kitchen, seeking buildout funds. 

M.O.E. Craft Co. is in the chase for funding to convert a former 19th century fire station into a brewery and restaurant.

The St. Paul City Council will vote on funding decisions this summer. 

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