Summer on Nicollet Avenue – Southside Pride

The team behind Eat Street Crossing

BY DEBRA KEEFER RAMAGE

More updates on the Kmart site

Yes, the old Kmart was supposed to be demolished now. But then, following the George Floyd uprising, we had to demolish not one but two burnt down post offices, and the building was reconfigured into a temporary double ZIP post office. However, the old grocery store next door will be demolished during the year, and the site somewhat tidied up.
The city has big plans for this site, which involve new housing and street-facing storefronts for smaller-scale retail and, most importantly, the reconnection of south Nicollet Avenue to Eat Street and the center -town. But we’ll have to wait, thanks to fools who burned down post offices during the uprising. (You’ll never convince me that even an uneducated leftist would think of doing this.) Current hopeful plans are to demolish the second building in late 2023 and begin construction in 2024.

Coming this summer – Centro Kitchen + and Eat Street Crossing

Speaking of Eat Street, two interesting newcomers are hitting the iconic Avenue Nicollet strip this summer. First, at the former Wedge Table site at 2412 Nicollet Ave. (I really miss this place) there will be a kind of mini food hall from the owners of Taquerio Centro and Vivir in northeast Minneapolis. It will serve as a “central kitchen” supplying these two restaurants in the Northeast and another coming to Saint-Paul, then several independent “restaurant concepts” open to the public, plus a bar.
Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal explains: “At 7,000 square feet, the restaurant space is ‘far too big for the Centro brand alone’, it [co-owner Jami Olson] said, it will also incorporate sister restaurant Vivir and another concept to be announced soon. When customers enter the new Eat Street restaurant, they see defined spaces for each concept, find a place in their communal seating area, and order items from any of their menus through the same proprietary app.
The second newcomer is even more ambitious and exciting. Lina Goh and John Ng, co-owners of Zen Box Izakaya on South Washington Avenue, came up with the idea along with Ben Spangler and Gabby Grant-Spangler, co-owners of Bebe Zito in Uptown, and well-respected local cocktail expert Trish Gabin. They acquired the dilapidated but still legendary Old Arizona Studio building (2819 Nicollet Ave.) and transformed it into a different kind of food hall, called Eat Street Crossing (ESC).
They said a big part of their design plan was to avoid gentrifying the neighborhood. Working with Christian Dean Architecture, “we’re trying to find the soul of this building — and the community,” Goh said in a June 6 Star Tribune article. Unlike many recent food halls, there will be no market section. Six food stalls, all created by one of the two “power couple” founders, and an inclusive bar program designed by Gavin, will comprise the food hall portion of the space, and a new mezzanine space will be a place to ‘event.
The bar program, in addition to selling a range of modern cocktails, will also include many non-alcoholic, low-sugar and adult mocktails. It will also include a “wine wall”. Zen Box Izakaya is one of my favorite nightclubs, so I’m really looking forward to visiting Eat Street Crossing.

Nicollet Shopping Center Farmers Market

Places to shop, parts 1-4

Part 1 – Even though the Wedge Table is gone, the old supermarket is being demolished, and the ESC will not include a food market, there are plenty of places to shop for groceries along the avenue Nicolet. For one, although it’s way south, there’s a Cub Foods at 5937 Nicollet Ave. Although it is not open 24 hours a day, it may as well be, being open seven days a week from 5 am to midnight.
Part 2 – Another option, although much more time limited, is to shop at Farmers Markets. One of them is the Nicollet Mall Market, an extension of the original Minneapolis Farmers’ Market in the Near North. The Nicollet Mall Market is open Thursday through October along a six-block stretch of the Nicollet Mall, and its opening day is June 16. Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Then there’s Kingfield Market, one of the Neighborhood Roots markets. , co-sponsored by the Kingfield Neighborhood Association. This takes place on Sundays, June through October (it’s already open) from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 4055 Nicollet Ave.
Part 3 – Eat Street itself has a number of small ethnic grocery stores as well as sit-down restaurants, fast food outlets and eateries. Or for generic shopping at a great price, try Good Grocery, the business on the ground floor of a newer apartment complex at 2650 Nicollet Ave. It runs largely on a volunteer workforce, and volunteers get a significant discount throughout their working month.

Finer Meats Food Truck

Part 4 – If you like your meat, try to get it from a specialist rather than a regular grocery store. One of the twin towns’
The oldest and best is Finer Meats & Eats, at 3747 Nicollet Ave. They offer carefully cut meats of the highest quality, as well as a dizzying array of homemade sausages, with far more choice than in a supermarket. You can also save time and money by buying in bulk, in a variety of packages including chicken, beef and pork products, or an all-beef package if you prefer.
Finer Meats also offers a popular food truck with a menu of mouth-watering burgers, barbecue sandwiches and more. It’s at Venn Brewing on Monday nights; check their Facebook page for more locations (https://www.facebook.com/finermeatseats/).

Good cheap Eat Street restaurant in Richfield

There are too many options to cover them all, but here’s a sampling. I was on Eat Street the other day with my friend Julie. She was craving pho, so I accompanied her to lunch at a place that was new to us – Pho Tau Bay at 2837 Nicollet Ave. I had a tasty noodle salad called “bun” (pronounced halfway between bun and boon). We both liked the place – it has a kitschy, old-school vibe, with low prices and great iced tea.
Another great place to get a reasonably priced meal is the Butter Bakery Cafe at 3700 Nicollet Ave. This place is a B Corp, which is a for-profit company with special ethical practices and generous profit sharing with its community. Butter Bakery does this in a number of ways, including providing training and well-paying jobs to homeless or at-risk youth. And their food and drinks, especially the home baked goods, are truly delicious.
Further south, try the Minneapolis branch of St. Paul Bagelry at 5426 Nicollet Ave. As their website proclaims, they make over 3,000 bagels every day, from scratch, with love. You can get bagels in a wide variety of flavors (almost 20!), including sun-dried tomato, asiago cheese, and cranberry, as well as classics like poppyseed, pumpernickel, and onion. Served plain, with peanut butter or jelly or more than a dozen flavors of cream cheese, their bagels are available to go, in bulk or to eat on the spot. Additionally, St. Paul Bagelry serves breakfast sandwiches, lunch/deli sandwiches, and coffee drinks (they serve Dogwood Coffee, one of our top local roasters).

Good inexpensive retail too – and more

Saint Paul Bagelry at the 54th and Nicollet

There are many retail options along Avenue Nicollet. It leans more towards the quirky, affordable, and recycled, rather than the faux bohemian of Uptown and other more gentrified neighborhoods, which is exactly what I love when I shop in person. B-Squad Vintage, at 3500 Nicollet Ave., is a fun shop for vintage clothing, jewelry, and accessories for men and women, as well as home decor, vinyl records, and 45- and 8-track cassettes, and even turntables, receivers and 8-track players. They buy vintage clothes and records on Wednesdays or by appointment, and even do house calls! It’s best to check their website or Facebook page for opening hours or call them to make an appointment.
The perfect place for someone with a comic book addiction (in their own words, no judgment here) is Hot Comics and Collectibles in the Hub mall in Richfield, one of three in the area. Hot Comics sells new comics, vintage comics, and various collectibles like action figures with comic book-related themes. If you’re really struggling, you can save some money with their discount card. For $15 a year, you can save 10% on everything you buy there.
Finally, for your more serious purchases, there is Nicollet Ace Hardware, “the biggest little hardware store in Minneapolis”. We mentioned them last month for the 38th Street foyer (they are located near the corner of Nicollet Avenue and 38th Street). But

Agate, before and after

there’s news – they’ve launched the Ace Handyman service! In a recent Facebook post, they said, “We saw a need in the community for such services and wanted to provide the highest level of service possible as part of our role as Helpful Hardware Folks! Finding a good handyman/woman who isn’t booked for the next few weeks is difficult these days, so this is a great addition to Nicollet Ace Hardware’s already outstanding service.

The benevolent legacy of Avenue Nicollet

St. Stephen’s Human Services merged with House of Charity to form a new organization called Agate Housing and Services. They have retained their accommodation services, including free meals, showers and laundry, as well as the Handbook of the Streets and their Street Outreach Teams, and now that they have joined forces they will be able to provide even more.
On the housing services side, Agate offers rapid rehousing, permanent supported housing, homelessness prevention programs for those at risk, and two separate shelters serving over 400 people.
unlined guests per year. They also do advocacy and welcome your involvement. To learn more about ways to help, visit their website at https://agatemn.org/get-involved/.

Family Tree Clinic

Another service organization making a huge difference is the Family Tree Clinic, in its new home at 1919 Nicollet Ave. FTC recently moved from St. Paul, and its new space is much larger, allowing for an expansion of services.
FTC is a community-based clinic, which means it provides low-cost or free services to vulnerable and/or underserved populations. They have traditionally focused on the underserved community of LGBTQ people and their families. They are funded by a combination of sliding scale patient fees, state and county funding, foundation grants, and individual donations.