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Able Seedhouse and Brewery incorporates craft malthouse

There’s something brewing next to the “white hot” Highlight Center in Northeast Minneapolis — but there’s more to it than beer.
 
Able Seedhouse and Brewery chose to open in MSP’s dense craft beer market, but Able’s concept is unusual even by Northeast’s ambitious standards. Able, which occupies an historic brick structure adjacent to the Highlight Center (just off busy Broadway Street), isn’t only a new Minneapolis craft brewery with a 20-barrel brewing capacity and 100-plus-patron taproom. It’s also a craft malthouse.
 
Able officially opened its doors in early November and malts its own small grains on site. In other words, the Able crew cooks raw ingredients — mostly barley, but sometimes wheat and rye — in one corner of the facility, then carts the finished product over to the brewing kettles and turns it into delicious beer.
 
Able isn’t a totally self-sufficient operation, at least not at the outset. Casey Holley, co-founder and co-owners, anticipates the brewery’s initial batches — the first of which started brewing on October 9 — will contain up to 5 percent “in-house malt.” The balance will come from larger, more established malting houses, like Shakopee’s Rahr Malting. Over time, Holley hopes the proportion of house-made malt will increase.
 
“Producing an entire batch of beer using only our own malt would be something spectacular,” he says.
 
Holley is particularly excited about Able’s budding relationships with small-time Minnesota farmers. He’s reaching out to family farmers across the state and offering to pay a premium for their barley, which typically commands far less than the corn and soybeans that dominate Minnesota’s agricultural industry. Even though Able’s product is liquid and strictly adults-only, the brewery’s efforts help support long-depressed market for small grains.
 
“We’re doing our part to rebuild the local food supply chain,” says Holley. “We thought it would be super interesting to tell this story in beer.”
 
For the time being, the Able team is focused on navigating the opening rush. Eventually, Able’s malting operation could win out. Holley and his cofounders have contemplated serving as a small-scale “maltster” for other MSP breweries, offering an alternative — possibly with a more experimental bent — to major players like Rahr. He’s also game for helping smaller-scale packaged food producers with time-consuming, labor-intensive and frequently expensive R&D work.
 
“We could be someone that [packaged food producers] come to and say, ‘Can you play with this in the malter and see how it turns out?’” says Holley.
 

Hub for local food production adds The Drafthorse deli and café

Mention the FOOD BUILDING and eyebrows invariably rise in concert with the reply, “At the state fairgrounds?”
 
But as butcher Mike Phillips of Red Table Meat Co., and cheese maker Rueben Nilsson of The Lone Grazer Creamery continue to gain traction—both are housed in Kieran Folliard’s latest venture, the FOOD BUILDING in Northeast Minneapolis—that’ll change.
 
Plus, in November, the opening of a new deli and restaurant, The Drafthorse (formerly The Workhorse), which will showcase the meat and cheese being produced down the hall, will bring people in to taste just how fine and fast MSP is growing as a hub for urban food production.
 
The Drafthorse, says chef Luke Kyle (also chef and co-owner of Anchor Fish and Chips), will be a cozy 40- to 45-seat restaurant specializing in slow-roasted meats and potpies. “I’m originally from Ireland,” says Kyle, who as a teenager moved to the Twin Cities with his family, “and one of my favorite things is to sit down with family and friends at the end of the night over comfort food made with good ingredients prepared well.”
 
The eatery will also have a deli showcasing products from Red Table and Lone Grazer, and grab-and-go food. “We'll be doing classic European-style baguette sandwiches with meat, cheese and butter,” Kyle says. “No frills, just letting the ingredients shine through.”
 
The Drafthorse takes its name from the building’s original use: as a stable and veterinary clinic for the horses that hauled kegs of beer from the local breweries to pubs and stores. “Each horse had its own window on the side of building, for fresh air and to look out, which are still here,” Kyle says.
 
The horse ties were still on the wall when Kyle and his team—including Geoff King of Scratch Food Truck, who will head up the kitchen, Katie Kyle, who recently left her Spyhouse Coffee Roasters operations and management position, and Anne Saxton, who currently works for Kim Bartmann's restaurants—moved in and started construction. “The Drafthorse is a good strong name for the restaurant and relevant to the building,” Kyle says.
 
If all goes according to plan, the FOOD BUILDING may be welcoming another tenant soon: a flour miller. “So ideally, if they move in, the baguettes, meat and cheese will all be produced in the building itself, which is super local,” Kyle says. “That’s the whole idea behind the FOOD BUILDING,” which bills itself as a “destination food production hub.”
 
According to Saxton, the FOOD BUILDING is built on foundation brands bound together by a shared purpose: “to handcraft exceptional foods close to the source because food tastes best when it has a ‘taste of place’.” The venture also gives new meaning to “farm to table movement,” Kyle says. “It’s about getting to know where your food comes from, the farmers and animals who make it, and what you’re eating—with no blind spots.”

Tattersall Distillery enlivens craft cocktail scene with local spirits

The bourgeoning craft booze scene in MSP isn’t all about microbreweries, in case you were wondering. Ever since the Minnesota Legislature dropped the fees required to open a craft distillery, then allowed for cocktail rooms in which to serve the liquor produced onsite, distilleries have been popping up around the metro.
 
One of the newest is Tattersall Distillery, which is tucked into a former manufacturing/event space down a bumpy dirt road behind the Thorp Building in Northeast Minneapolis. In looking for a location, says Jon Kreidler, one of Tattersall’s co-owners, “After seeing Bauhaus Brewery,” which is off Central Avenue behind the Crown Center complex, “we knew it could be done”—meaning a hideaway location was do-able. “Then when we saw the space: wow!”
 
The cavernous room that once hosted light manufacturing, fashion shows and art sales for Midway Contemporary Art had a lot of potential, which Minneapolis designers Aaron Wittkamper and Amy Reiff fully released. Banks of clerestory windows were uncovered to light up the raw space. A glass wall was inserted between the cocktail room and production area, where the Tattersall logo curves across the back wall.
 
In the cocktail room, a carved wood mantel anchors the bar against a wall of plywood panels with painted reveals. The chandelier over the bar contrasts with a long cement high-top table, but adds pizzazz to a space also furnished with comfy club chairs. “We wanted to create a fresh and unpretentious space,” Wittkamper says.
 
In fact, the eclectic furnishings were sourced from 1 King’s Lane and Restoration Hardware—as well as “Craig’s List and the in-laws,” Wittkamper says. Reiff worked on the branding, using the Tattersall plaid not only in the logo but also on the bottle labels and “in subtle ways by using similar menswear fabrics throughout the space,” she says.
 
As for the booze: Tattersall’s lineup includes vodka, gin, white whiskey and aquavit. The cocktail room’s topnotch bartenders—trained by co-owner Dan Oskey, award-winning bartender formerly of Strip Club Meat & Fish in St. Paul and Hola Arepa in Minneapolis, and partner in the bitters company Easy & Oskey—readily whip up an assortment of drinks with house-crafted infusions.
 
“When we started designing the space, we knew things weren’t quite right,” Kreidler says. “Then when we brought in Aaron, he totally flipped the plans upside down and suddenly we knew how the space would work.” With a spacious cocktail room overlooking the production area, foodtrucks at the ready outside, an outdoor area for eating and drinking during warm weather, and fresh craft cocktails, Tattersall has set a new standard for the craft distillery movement in MSP.
 
 
 

Frogtown Farm: A community vision comes to fruition

For more than seven years, Frogtown Farm has been a community vision slowly manifesting into an authentic project: A 12.7-acre parcel of public land that will include 5.5 acres developed as an urban farm. On Saturday, October 3, at 10:30 a.m., the Frogtown Farm officially opens.
 
“Our grand opening signifies a herculean effort by community members,” says Eartha Borer Bell, executive director, Frogtown Farm, St. Paul. “I’ve been involved with the project for a year now as paid, full time staff, and it’s constantly humbling how much time and effort, heart and soul, for over almost a decade, the community has put into the project. Our opening is a mark of what can be done when people get together, have a vision and see it through.”

Frogtown Farm is the vision of longtime Frogtown residents Seitu Jones, Soyini Guyton, Patricia Ohmans and Anthony Schmitz. “They saw a great opportunity to increase access to greenspace in the Frogtown neighborhood,” Bell says. After the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation built its main campus on the land, then put the buildings up for sale in 2008, the property was vacant. The visionaries approached the Trust for Public Land to help them raise funds to purchase the site.
 
In 2012, the Trust, a national nonprofit organization that conserves land for parks, gardens and other natural places, struck a deal to buy the land for $2.2 million from the  Wilder Foundation. In 2013, Frogtown Farm invited the community to help design the site. “We developed a number of community engagement initiatives around what the park and farm would look like,” Bell says. “Over a six-to-eight month process, hundreds of community members became involved. Their input resulted in the design.”
 
Later that year, the City of St. Paul began discussions with Frogtown Farm about owning the property, in order to keep it accessible to the public. At the end of 2013, the land was later transferred to the City of St. Paul. In addition to the farm, the site includes play areas and maintains a historic oak grove.
 
“Urban agriculture is really booming in the Twin Cities,” Bell says. “While Frogtown isn’t necessarily a food desert, our community does experience barriers to accessing fresh local food. The farm will help remedy that situation.” The farm will also bring the neighborhood’s various populations together, to grow, prepare and share the food grown on the farm, she adds.
 
“There are plenty of anecdotes, and there’s lots of information, on how Frogtown is a diverse neighborhood,” Bell explains. “But we keep hearing that there isn’t a lot of interaction between those diverse populations. We do know that people like growing and cultivating a garden or farm, and cooking and preserving food.”
 
“So our five-year plan includes construction of a building that would serve as an incubator for fledgling food businesses in the community, an education center with cooking classes, and a community center,” Bell adds. “We hope that will provide great opportunities for people of all ages to share food traditions from their diverse cultures.”
 
The grand opening on October 3 will include a land blessing ceremony (10:30 a.m.), program (11 a.m.), and “Taste of Frogtown” event with tours and activities (noon to 2 p.m.).
 
 
 
 
 
 

Public Functionary expands its footprint and opportunities for "functional philanthropy"

When does growth mean more than increased square footage and financial opportunity? When the organization is the nonprofit art center Public Functionary. PF’s planned expansion into the building it currently occupies a portion of at Broadway and Buchanan in Northeast Minneapolis will lead to more innovative community programming, says Mike Bishop, PF’s director of operations.
 
Within the three to six months, Bishop says, the organization will move into the north portion of the building “with the mission of making art even more accessible with community events that get people into art spaces. While it’s scary to take on that rent and responsibility, we’re also looking at the expansion as a chance to further develop PF.”
 
Since opening in 2013, PF has billed itself as a nontraditional arts center with a focus on contemporary visual art, especially by rising national and local artists whose work expresses diversity in background, approach, inspiration and materiality. Exhibitions have also included dance, theater, music and performance art, as well as public participation. “Through our flexible exhibition space, multidisciplinary artwork and events, we’ve seen how important collaboration is to us,” Bishop says.
 
To further the collaborative impulse, he continues, PF has been “inviting in community groups and letting them use the space as a resource. They bring in their audience, which allows them to get to know PF and get comfortable with contemporary art.” That initiative led to another. “We started thinking about the communities we haven’t engaged with yet, including local businesses in Northeast. We decided to open our space to new and established businesses, so they could become involved with the art in a nontraditional way. We’re calling it ‘functional philanthropy.’”
 
Financial One, for instance, recently introduced its new brand to its team in PF’s exhibition area. The location “was a great way for the employees to get outside of the office and have their meeting in a creative engaging space,” Bishop says. Other meetings may include an illustrator sketching the session’s outcomes, or PF director and curator Tricia Khutoretsky providing arts-related approaches to problem solving.
 
“We’d like to help businesses work through solutions more organically using an arts perspective,” Bishop explains. “For example, Liz Miller is an installation artist who has transformed our exhibition area. She comes with an idea, but knows it will always go another way; that she’ll have to work with the space, modify her approach and those challenges will inform final product.”
 
Rather than a direct sponsorship approach, PF’s “functional philanthropy” offers businesses a way to “give back to their community and get something tangible in return that can come out of meetings and events budgets, and marketing budgets, not just community giving budgets,” Kate Iverson, PF’s development director, explained via email. “It's not only inspiring to meet and develop ideas at PF, but also to explore arts-driven approaches to problem solving, and pass on the value of art and community building to employees and clients.”
 
In other words, Bishop says, the expansion “will give us the flexibility to push our model further, and become a more fully fleshed out art center.”
 

Midway Murals and Little Africa celebrate Snelling redo with arts festival

After moving to and buying a house in St. Paul’s Midway neighborhood five years ago with his wife, Jonathan Oppenheimer was inspired to create “a dream project.”
 
“I thought: ‘Wouldn't it be awesome to transform Snelling Avenue, then highlight the changes to transform the public’s perception of it,’ ” he recalls. He had in mind a half-mile stretch of Snelling, the visible and highly traveled portion from I-94 over the Green Line and north toward the State Fair.
 
“The area suffers from rampant graffiti,” Oppenheimer says, “and the business owners in the area, many of them immigrant business owners, would like to change people’s perception of that stretch of Snelling. I also wanted to help bridge the stark divide between immigrants and residents, economic classes and race, by doing something creative and productive.”
 
So Oppenheimer founded Midway Murals and in 2014 received McKnight Arts Challenge to complete the project. A launch party in February brought 300 people into the Turf Club “to show folks it’s really happening and get them excited about it,” Oppenheimer says.
 
On Saturday, August 29, the Midway Art Festival, co-hosted by Midway Murals and Little Africa, celebrates the murals’ completion, from 12-6 p.m., at Hamline Park on the corner of Snelling and Thomas avenues.
 
The event includes live and interactive art projects from Rogue Citizen, Dim Media, Streetcorner Letterpress, the Poetry Mobile, and Fluid Ink; music from Superbrush 427 and River Beats Entertainment; and an overall celebration of the newly reconstructed Snelling Avenue. Also on the docket are tours of the four murals created by four local public artists: Lori Greene worked in mosaic; Greta McLain in paint and mosaic; Eric Mattheis in spray paint; and Yuya Negishi in traditional and spray paint.
 
“Each artist created a separate mural, while working over several months with area business owners to craft an idea,” Oppenheimer says. “The murals reflect the changes in culture, residents, infrastructure and imagination that are forever occurring in the city, as well as the promise and struggles that the community navigates over time.” All of the artists worked with a central theme: starting anew.
 
“I always wanted to be involved in neighborhood activism, to take stock of what was wonderful and the places needing improvement,” Oppenheimer adds. “And I wanted to start a conversation around a public art project, as public art has the unique ability to bring people into contact with things they wouldn’t otherwise see.”
 
Oppenheimer is also thrilled that the completed murals, and Midway Art Festival, will occur just as renovations to Snelling Avenue are completed, including new decorative lighting and sidewalks. “People are excited because Snelling has a fresh look,” he says. “We’re hoping the arts festival and mural projects will also better unite the neighborhood, spark conversations and inspire people to continue improving the area.”
 
According to the Midway Murals website, the initiative “will serve as the cornerstone for a new public art workgroup housed in the Hamline Midway Coalition, the neighborhood’s non-profit district council. This group will bring together community members of diverse backgrounds to meet regularly to brainstorm new ideas and locations for public art; ensure upkeep and maintenance of existing pieces; and curate and oversee the expansion of this art corridor in future years.”
 
 
 
 

North Loop's lumbersexual vibe gets boost with conversion of Jackson Building into Hewing Hotel

After months, even years, of speculation, the historic Jackson Building in Minneapolis’ North Loop, most recently home to the IPR (Institute of Production and Recording) College of Creative Arts, is slated to become a boutique hotel. “The neighborhood is spectacular,” says Tim Dixon, owner of Fe Equus Development, LLC, which is taking on the project. “It’s rocking. Empty nesters are moving back to the city. Millennials are embracing the area. The food scene is spectacular. We’ll add value to the neighborhood with an experiential hotel that will bring in the locals.”
 
Based in Milwaukee, Fe Equus is best known for transforming a 200-year-old downtown building into the Iron Horse Hotel. “The Iron Horse Hotel fulfilled the growing demand for experiential hotels and the need for additional rooms generated by its neighbor, the Harley-Davidson Museum,” according to the Fe Equus website. “Unlike any modern luxury hotel today, this brand new concept pairs high-end accommodations with special amenities for motorcycle enthusiasts.”
 
The Jackson Building will be renamed the Hewing Hotel, in a nod to the area’s milling history, which began with lumber. To “hew” is to cut or to fell. Think axe to tree. Which will fit right in with the area’s growing lumbersexual vibe apparent at Marvel Bar, Spoon and Stable, and Askov Finlayson.
 
In the late 1880s, many Minnesota trees were hewed to create the sturdy timber frame of the Jackson Building, which also has exposed brick walls and wood floors. Built on spec by Henry George Andrews (in collaboration with John Pillsbury, Thomas Andrews and Woodbury Fisk, Dixon says, the building initially had two floors. But as the area boomed, ceilings were ripped off and floors added. An addition was made to the building, as well.
 
“We thought about calling it the Convolution Hotel,” Dixon says, with a laugh, “because of the build out. On nearly every floor, it’s clear they took the roof off and put new floors down, over and over again. In the basement, which has really high ceilings, they used to pull a train in.” In previous lives, the building functioned as farm implement showroom and a warehouse.
 
The Aparium Hotel Group of Chicago will work with Fe Equus on the building’s conversion into a 120-room hotel with a restaurant and bar. “We start with the history and the building, then investigate the neighborhood and the city,” Dixon says, “to create food and beverage services that embrace the community and attract the locals. As we’ve proved with other projects, once you bring in the locals you become part of the fabric of the community.”
 
Dixon is currently living in North Loop, were he’s soaking up the ambience 24/7 in preparation for the historic building’s redesign. “It’s no fun going into the middle of a cornfield and coming up with something creative and beautiful,” he says. “It’s more satisfying, and you’re forced to be creative, when working within the barriers presented to you, from structure and materials to existing urban neighborhood. Our team at every level — operationally, design, food and beverage — will integrate it all to ensure the Hewing Hotel experience is consistent and unique.”  
 
 
 
 

Dance, law and beer grow on the Green Line

Along the Green Line light-rail corridor, which opened in June 2014, business continues to grow as arts organizations, breweries and small offices either set up shop or expand along University Avenue. In St. Paul, they include the multi-cultural modern dance company TU Dance; the Mendoza Law Office, which specializes in nonprofits and cable/telecom communications; and Lake Monster Brewing, which joins the brewery boom in the Creative Enterprise Zone. Here’s what they have to say about being an invested part of the Green Line community.
 
TU Dance
 
As The Line reported in 2013, Toni Pierce-Sands, co-founder of TU Dance, rode the bus to dance classes as a child. “So when she and her husband, dancer and choreographer Uri Sands, were founding their St. Paul-based dance company TU Dance in 2004, Pierce-Sands says she ‘envisioned young kids waiting on the corner for a bus that would take them to our dance school.’”
 
Today, that school is called TU Dance Center. And the kids ride not only the bus, but also the light rail. Founded in 2011 in a rehabbed former woodworking and cabinetry shop, the professional dance school is located between a Subway and an auto-repair shop on Green Line. Since opening, the center’s programming has been steadily growing to meet the needs of students seeking out the Sands’ singular mix of creative movement/drum classes, and ballet, modern and West African dance.
 
So much so, that the TU Dance Center has added another 2,000 square feet of space upstairs. Known as TU Dance Center Studio 2, the second floor includes a new dance studio with a sprung floor, ballet barres, piano and drums, and sound system; new restrooms and changing rooms, and administrative offices.
 
“Having grown to more than 150 students in our youth programs, our current expansion to a second studio space meets a critical need for offering classes at multiple levels and techniques in the limited after-school time slot that works for families,” says Sands. Rather than move to a new location, the couple decided to remain in their current building and expand.
 
“We believe the opportunity to experience dance is transformative — for audiences, for students, for our community,” explains Pierce-Sand. “To make that opportunity real, dance classes need to be accessible. Our location on the Green Line is one key aspect of that commitment."
 
Mendoza Law Office
 
“I have a lot of optimism about the Green Line corridor and how the area is going to grow in the coming years,” says Tony Mendoza, who recently moved his law practice, Mendoza Law Office, LLC, into the 1000 University Avenue building. While looking for a new location for his growing practice, which was previously located along the Blue Line, Mendoza studied the avenue and noticed “buildings being refurbished and lots of new businesses,” he says.
 
University Avenue also offered the convenience of hopping on the train to either downtown Minneapolis or St. Paul for meetings. Then he noticed 1000 University. The 1929 building has exposed brick and timber beams, as well as spacious common areas. “We were also able to design the space we wanted,” he adds.
 
After law school, Mendoza joined Fredrickson & Byron’s advertising and entertainment group, and began working in communications. He later worked for the administration of Governor Ventura as a deputy commerce commissioner for telecommunications. Eleven years ago, he opened his own practice specializing in cable, telecom and entertainment law.
 
“There’s a lot regulatory uncertainty and change right now in the area of broadband development,” Mendoza explains. “Comcast is one of my clients. They’re spinning off their systems here to a company called GreatLand Communications, which has generated quite a bit of work in terms of getting regulatory approvals for the transfer and spin off, and franchises they have to negotiate with cities where they operate, many of which have been coming up for renewal to provide their video services.”
 
Mendoza also works with startups, small businesses and nonprofits. “We’re getting involved with the Midwest Business Association with the hopes of helping more local businesses get started and organized,” he says. “We’re looking for symbiotic relationships where we can help each other grow, especially along University Avenue.”
 
Lake Monster Brewing
 
After scouting dozens of locations for Lake Monster Brewing, which he co-owns with Jeremy Maynor and brewer Matt Lange, Matt Zanetti decided on the 550 Vandalia Street property adjacent to the Green Line. Located a block off I94, in the Creative Enterprise Zone, Zanetti was taken with the convenience of the site, as well as with the massive building itself.
 
“We’ll have a 170-spot parking lot,” he enthuses, and the brewery, which may open this fall, is also a block from the Raymond Avenue stop on the Green Line. “The building itself is historic and amazing, with red brick and steel girders.” What about all of the other new breweries in the area, including Bang, Urban Growler and Surly?
 
“The day after we signed the lease we took a case a beer and went to Urban Growler and Bang,” Zanetti says. “We’re really excited to be a part of the growing microbrewery scene in the Creative Enterprise Zone. We’re another destination people can enjoy.”
 
Lake Monster will also be the first and anchor tenant in the building (owned by First & First), which Zanetti says will create a lot of buzz. “Our tanks have arrived, but a lot of site work still needs to be done,” he says. “We’ll have two patios, as well as a 2500-square-foot taproom. We’ll have a nice big bar, soft spaces for relaxing, high tops, low tables… we want our taproom to be approachable!”
 
In addition to its two flagship beers, the Calhoun Claw Pilsener and the Empty Rowboat IPA, the brewery will also begin working on crafting some traditional beers with new twists.
 

Cooperative real estate model goes national

Three years ago, the Northeast Investment Cooperative (NEIC) was created to allow people to collectively buy, renovate, and manage commercial and residential property. Despite a mix of restaurants and retail businesses on Central Avenue in Northeast Minneapolis, and the adaptive reuse of former industrial buildings into the immensely popular 612 Broadway and Crown Center nearby, the area has a history of rundown storefronts and absentee landlords. NEIC is changing all that.
 
With nearly $300,000 in member investments, and having transformed 2504-06 at the corner of Central and Lowry avenues into a successful building with thriving tenants, NEIC is sharing its innovative cooperative model nationally. Already, in New York City, inspired residents formed their own co-op modeled after NEIC — NYC Real Estate Investment Cooperative — and more than 200 people immediately invested.
 
In February, an article in Yes! Magazine about NEIC went viral. Since then, the first commercial-property cooperative in the United States has been happily fielding inquiries from groups across the country, and board members will be speaking at conferences in St. Louis, Phoenix and Milwaukee on NEIC’s innovative business model. The appeal, explains Loren Schirber, a NEIC board member, is the opportunity to make a difference locally.
 
“People who have a vested interest in their neighborhood see the cooperative, commercial real estate model as an accessible way to make that difference and get a lot of other people involved,” Schirber says, and there’s more. “Kickstarter, Go Fund Me, Facebook and other social media and crowdfunding sites have changed how we do marketing and communications, so real estate investment opportunities are becoming more localized and accessible to people. This is the next logical step, because people don’t simply donate, they see where their money goes, what it’s doing and take ownership in the process.”
 
The cooperative real estate model also takes our new cultural emphasis on the local and bespoke — whether beer, food or handmade goods — further, Schirber continues. “How you save for retirement or invest is a logical extension of trying to be more conscious of what to do with your money and the influence you have. So with NEIC, we tackled an eyesore in the neighborhood we wanted to see changed. That resonated with local people…. and word traveled.”
 
Through NEIC’s cooperative structure, any Minnesota resident could join for $1,000. They could also invest more by purchasing non-voting stock. After a year of seeking investors, NEIC purchased two buildings on Central Avenue. Aki’s BreadHaus and Fair State Brewing Cooperative opened in 2014. NEIC’s partner, Recovery Bike Shop, is located next door. In total, the project represents more than a million dollars in new investment on Central Avenue.
 
“We spent thousands of hours getting started, fine tuning our bylaws, figuring out our structures, setting things up,” Schirber says. “Sharing that information with other groups, to make the process easier for them, is a principal of cooperative ownership.” So far, groups located in places from Seattle to Silver Spring, Maryland, Northern California to Cincinnati, Ohio, Texas to Washington D.C., have contacted NEIC for information.
 
Meanwhile, NEIC is avidly seeking a second property to bring to investors, and holding three information sessions and happy hours to discuss past successes and future plans: 
June 4: Info session at Eastside Food Co-op (7-8 p.m.), happy hour at Fair State Brewing Co-op (8-9 p.m.)
July 16: Info session at Narobi Market (7-8 p.m.), happy hour at Fair State Brewing Co-op (8-9 p.m.)
August 13: Info session at TBD (7-8 p.m.), happy hour at Fair State Brewing Co-op (8-9 p.m.)
 
“People have plenty of opportunities to become a minority investor,” Schirber says. “But from a tenant, investment and neighborhood standpoint, a cooperative model offers people more accessibility, control, ownership and a tangible reason for success.”
 

Oulmans bring a "throwback vibe" to new Como Dockside

In early May, Jon Oulman and his team will open the doors to their latest restaurant and entertainment venue: Como Dockside in the Como Lakeside Pavilion in St. Paul. A 14-person selection committee, including City of St. Paul officials, approved the team’s proposal, which will “not only take full advantage of the unique space situated on the edge of Como Lake, but it will also offer services, food and recreation activities that will make it a vibrant destination for residents and visitors alike,” said St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman in a statement. Oulman couldn’t be more thrilled.
 
“Have you been here?!” he responds, when asked why he decided to add the Como Pavilion to his impressive portfolio of businesses. “It may be the most incredible facility in the Twin Cities. It’s in the busiest regional park in the state. Only the Mall of American has more visitors annually than Como Park. It’s an incredible public asset, on a lake, with so much history. Talk to three people in St. Paul and at least two of them will have fond memories of engaging with the park and the lake.”
 
Oulman says he was also ready for a new adventure. “Personally, I felt like nobody needed me anymore!” he says, laughing. “The 331 Club has been running for 10 years now. We’re into our fourth year at Amsterdam [Bar and Hall] and that’s going really well. So last fall I was talking with my son Jarrett [who co-owns Amsterdam] about the public facilities in and around Minneapolis with food and beverage, like Sea Salt [next to Minnehaha Falls] and Tin Fish [on Lake Calhoun). The line at Tin Fish to get food! We saw potential here. And the timing is perfect.”
 
The Oulmans, operating as Como Dockside, responded to a survey of more than 1500 people who noted what they wanted in a new facility. Those criteria included a year-round place for food and beverages, a variety of entertainment options in addition to the beloved community groups, and more engagement with the park and lake. In response, the team revamped the kitchen and dining area on the main floor, and the second floor will be a lounge with comfy club furniture.
 
“We built the place out so in the summer, when you’re inside, you can see out through the large windows,” Oulman says. “In the winter, you’ll feel warm and cozy.” The menu will feature New Orleans-style po' boys, picnic baskets to takeaway, local craft beers and wine. In the evenings, for dinner, food will be plated. “It’s kind of a throwback vibe, which I’m interested in, so we’re wrapping the aesthetic around that.”
 
Because the park keeps attendance records for activities at the pavilion, the team could “see what’s been successful and supported by the community,” Oulman says. “For example, 800 people show up for the Como Players theater group. So we certainly aren’t going to get rid of them!”
 
“Our goal is just to make the entertainment offerings more diverse, with maybe some jazz, bluegrass and other Americana,” Oulman continues. “We don’t want to over-impact the neighborhood. There are a lot of people who live around the lake. So 75 percent of the community groups people really love will remain.”
 
The hours are also a change of pace from those held by the former café in the pavilion. Como Dockside will be open until 10 p.m. during the week and until midnight on Friday and Saturday. The team is bringing in a new dock system; new canoes, kayaks and paddleboards; and a 30-foot electric guided dining boat. “You can get a picnic basket, a bucket of beer and one our guys will putt you around the lake for an hour,” Oulman enthuses. “This is St. Paul!”
 
 
 

Lakes & Legends brings Belgian micro-brews to Loring Park

 
MSP’s craft-beer boom still shows no sign of slowing down. Opening this summer, in a 12,000-square-foot space in LPM Apartments — a 36-story apartment tower recently completed in the Loring Park neighborhood of downtown Minneapolis — is Lakes & Legends Brewing Company.
 
“Consumers keep flocking to craft beer,” says Ethan Applen, co-founder and CEO of Lakes & Legends. “It’s partly an extension of growing interest in local foods and peoples’ desire to know what’s they’re putting into the bodies. But for us, Lakes & Legends is also an opportunity to go deeper. We think there are brewing opportunities where we can grow.”
 
In particular, Lakes & Legends will focus on Belgian and farmhouse-style ales. The former, Applen explains, are “more improvisational. The beer goes back centuries to when monks in Belgium started brewing with what was on hand. The flavor profile has a lot of flexibility and appeals to even non-beer drinkers.”
 
The farmhouse style, he continues, “comes from farms in northern France and Belgium. Farmers would brew beers in the winter with whatever was left over from the harvest, and again that’s where the improvisational piece comes in: barley and rosemary, wheat and lavender.”
 
Lakes & Legends ingredients will be local and organic whenever possible, to find “a balance between the recipe we want to make and what’s available,” Applen says. He’s especially excited to source from MSP’s diverse ethnic growers.
 
“We’re looking at the Hmong community and culture. Ginger, citrus and hot peppers, which they grow and use in their cuisine, are all ingredients we can use in our beer. International ingredients from a local community!”  
 
Applen's father and wife, Katie Kotchka, are from Minnesota. He grew up in Southern California and has lived in LA for 15 years. His background is in startups and entertainment, and he’s worked for Disney and Warner Bros., where he innovated new businesses. He’s been traveling back and forth for the last year, and will be moving to MSP in May.
 
Lakes & Legends co-founder Derrick Taylor, Applen’s brother-in-law, is a Minnesota native and MSP resident who has managed the Red Bull Crashed Ice event in St. Paul. Lakes & Legends' head brewer, Andrew Dimery, comes to MSP by way of Bluegrass Brewing Company in Louisville, KY, and Sun King Brewery in Indianapolis, IN. Lakes & Legends will not have a kitchen, but will partner with local restaurants and food trucks to bring local eats to the taproom.
 
“We want to be part of a community,” Applen says, which why he and Taylor selected the LPM building. They looked around Northeast Minneapolis and the Midway area of St. Paul. But they felt LPM and the Loring Park area are “a great part of Minneapolis, cool and upbeat, with tons of residents, and with breweries near by but not over served.”
 
The brewery and taproom, he adds, “will be a resource for community gatherings and events. We want it to be a comfortable space, a third space away from home and work, where people can come and hang out.”
 

MTN joins creative mix in Northeast Minneapolis

 
 
After 22 years in St. Anthony Main along the Mississippi riverfront in downtown Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Television Network (MTN) is relocating to Northeast. On April 1, MTN will be joining the other entrepreneurial businesses, artists and creative industries currently in the Thorp Building, which is also a hub during the annual art festival Art-A-Whirl.
 
“As a creative media organization with a long history of serving the various communities in Minneapolis, we’re excited to move to the Thorp Building in Northeast in the middle of a thriving arts district,” says Michael Fallon, MTN’s executive director. Northeast Minneapolis was named the best arts district in the U.S. by USA Today.
 
“There’s so much potential for us in this neighborhood as we’ll be right in the thick of things, serving the community in the way public access television is meant to serve,” Fallon adds.
 
MTN’s mission is to “empower diverse Minneapolis residents seeking to connect to the larger community through the media,” according to its website. “We provide low-expense training for anyone who wants to learn to use the media,” Fallon adds.
 
MTN is largely supported through the Public Access Education and Government Channels (PEG) fees attached to cable subscribers. Over the years, the organization has given artists, comedians, community activists and numerous groups a platform for their work.
 
MTN’s studios have launched such talents as Fancy Ray McCloney, Viva and Jerry Beck (of the show “Viva and Jerry’s Country Music Videos”), Rich Kronfeld (of “The Choo Choo Bob Show”), “Mary Hanson (of “The Mary Hanson Show,” which is “one of longest running public access talk shows in the country,” Fallon says) and Ian Rans (of “Drinking with Ian”). MTN also broadcasts city government meetings and has given the growing Somali community a place to produce public-affairs shows that reach other immigrants. 
 
The new space will include staff offices; equipment rental; two fully equipped, community-focused television studios (with cameras, lights and a green screen) and video editing suites; a Youtube set-up for fast and easy studio productions; and a multipurpose classroom and public gathering area.
 
“We already been reaching out to the Northeast community and potential collaborations and we’re working on a partnership with [the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association] NEMAA,” Fallon says. “ We expect to fit right in and to become an essential part of the Northeast’s creative mix.”
 
 
 

Pollinate Minnesota adds to buzz about pollinators

For three years Erin Rupp worked with local bee advocacy group and honey producer Beez Kneez as its director of education, incubating ideas about how to expand the public’s understanding of the vital role pollinators play in our food system. This spring, her ideas came to fruition. Rupp recently launched Pollinate Minnesota, a nonprofit organization designed to engage the public, including policymakers, in “a world with strong, healthy pollinators and people, where farms are functional parts of ecosystems and schools are functional environments for all learners,” according to the website.
 
Pollinate Minnesota will use honeybees to teach about pollinators’ role in creating a healthy, sustainable food system, focusing on interactive experiences for individuals and groups that include visiting bees in their hives. “I really love teaching about pollinators by putting people in beekeeping suits,” Rupp enthuses. “Bees are great tool to connect to a lot of different subjects. They’re social insects. And we know they sting — that’s pretty engaging, right, that they can hurt us? — and yet we’re doing most of the stinging by damaging their habitat.”
 
Rupp says beekeepers are losing 30 to 50 percent of their hives annually, mainly due to starvation. Because of the decimation of native habitats, bees need to fly greater distances to find pollen and nectar. Systemic pesticides — including neonicotinoids, which persist in the environment, and when used as seed treatments move into the pollen and nectar of adult plants — kill bees. And plant cultivars, while showy and colorful, often have had the nectar and pollen bees need bred out of the plant.
 
“The decline of bees tells the story of how our food system is broken in a way that both second graders and state legislators can understand,” Rupp says. To those ends, Rupp is actively seeking partners for the upcoming season; places where she can expand the possibilities of teaching with bees, such as in parks close to schools or on school grounds. She’s also at the State Capitol working on “forward-looking legislation that’s good for pollinators and people,” she says, including Governor Dayton’s “Buffer Bill.”
 
Rupp also wants to work on pesticide legislation, and to collaborate with the Minnesota Department of Transportation of increasing native plantings along roadsides. Meanwhile, she encourages people to plant flower gardens and pots with flowers bees need. “Just ask the seed catalogs or plant nurseries you’re buying from whether their products are free of systemic pesticides like neonicotinoids,” she says.
 
On Monday, March 30, Pollinate Minnesota will celebrate its launch with an event that includes a 2015 legislative session overview of Minnesota state pollinator policy work.  The event runs from 6:30-8:00pm on 3.30.2015 at the Gandhi Mahal Community Room, 3009 27th Avenue South, Minneapolis.

 

Spyhouse West opening in the North Loop

 
Spyhouse Coffee Roasters will open its fourth cafe in a portion of the 3,900-square-foot, ground floor commercial space in Brunsfield North Loop on Washington Avenue in Minneapolis. Dubbed Spyhouse West, with an expected opening in June, the coffee shop, “will have a very different aesthetic and charm, but will still have those same Spyhouse elements and character that have been a defining standard for us,” says Christian Johnson, Spyhouse owner and director of operations.
 
Johnson adds that he’d been looking for a location in the Warehouse District for more than a decade, until the apartment complex was completed last year. “Brunsfield aligns with our overall mission in that its minimalistic design and location, and the demographics of the immediate area, seem a perfect fit for us,” he says. The project, designed by Snow Kreilich Architects, earned an AIA Honor Award for architectural excellence in 2014.
 
The location is also far enough away from such other indie cafes as Moose and Sadies, Johnson continues. “I spent a lot of time at M&S in college in the 90's, so I am quite fond of those memories from back then,” he explains. This fourth location for Spyhouse (which started in 2000 with a coffeehouse in Whittier, then added another on Hennepin Avenue in Uptown in 2008 and in the 612 Broadway building in Northeast Minneapolis in 2013) “will bring an attention to the craft of coffee and design characteristics that are congruent with the lifestyle of the neighborhood,” he says.
 
Adds Vincent Lim, president and general manager of Brunsfield America, Inc., “One key criterion [for a potential retail tenant] was that the user must share our vision for the space — to be an amenity to our residents and our community.” In addition, he continues, “our research on Spyhouse revealed the very passionate and committed entrepreneurs behind the business.”
 
As for being an entrepreneur who has “worked 80 hours a week for the last 15 years,” Johnson says, “it is important for me to grow a brand not out of ego, but out of what feels right…. and to know when to slow down. I have so many ideas for restaurants and cafes that I have to be careful the design wheels in my head don’t accelerate too quickly.”
 
He doesn’t, however, have any plans to move out of state, much less out of Minneapolis. “We like to have cohesion and proximity within our stores to ensure consistency, quality and ease for the staff, and myself, to commute to,” says Johnson, who owns a home between two of Spyhouse’s locations.
 

Hoodstarter crowdsources solutions for vacant storefronts

 
Kickstarter connects you with people willing to fund the innovative idea you’re working on in your garage. Why can’t you get funding for the innovative idea you have for the vacant storefront down the block?
 
Hoodstarter may have an answer. Co-founders Justin Ley and David Berglund, who work together at UnitedHealth, recently finalized and launched a first-of-its-kind crowdsourcing/funding platform that allows users to post vacant properties, post and vote on ideas for new onsite businesses or public uses, and fund entrepreneurs willing and able to turn those ideas into tangible businesses.
 
Property owners, real estate brokers, entrepreneurs and Twin Cities residents mingle on its website, exploring property listings, offering ideas, gauging interest and forging new connections.
 
“The goal of Hoodstarter is to connect neighborhood and city residents — anyone with a stake in and ideas for the vacant space — with real estate brokers equipped to market empty properties, property owners looking to monetize their holdings, and companies or entrepreneurs willing to shoulder the risk of launching a new use,” says Berglund.
 
“We’re facilitating connections between all the parties to a typical real estate transaction,” adds Ley, “including community members directly and indirectly affected by the project. Basically, we’re taking a model that hasn’t changed in 50 years” — commercial real estate development — “and making it much more efficient, while also creating opportunities for businesses and ideas that might not have access to other sources of funding.”
 
Though the platform hasn’t yet provided direct funding for any nascent businesses, the founders follow the well-worn model used by other successful crowdfunding platforms: taking a five-percent cut of users’ contributions and passing the rest along to entrepreneurs.
 
Hoodstarter’s database includes vacant sites across the Twin Cities, from expansive, high-visibility spaces like the unoccupied retail level at St. Paul’s new West Side Flats to abandoned churches and petite storefronts along community corridors like Chicago and James avenues in Minneapolis.
 
In addition to listings with detailed information about the property, including its price per square foot (when publicly available), leasing agent and amenities, Hoodstarter has a social function that supports lively debate over user-generated ideas, posted properties and urban life in general. The community is largely self-policing: A recent post suggesting that a prime Chicago Avenue storefront be left vacant was met with swift, if polite, criticism.
 
Less than a year and a half since its initial launch, Hoodstarter is already gaining traction across the Twin Cities. “When you see a vacant lot or storefront, there’s an intrinsic desire to envision its potential,” says Ley, especially if it’s in your neighborhood. “You can’t help but wonder, ‘Why has that place been vacant for so long?’ It’s a frustrating feeling.”
 
The South Minneapolis resident speaks from experience. His commute takes him past the same vacant space every day — a retail storefront empty for so long that no one quite remembers what it used to be.
 
Ley’s “pet” storefront crisply illustrates the problems Hoodstarter seeks to remedy. The property sits on an otherwise busy corner, near Angry Catfish, the Baker’s Wife and other popular businesses. It has obvious assets: space for indoor and outdoor seating, corner visibility and a floor plan tailor made for a restaurant or cafe.
 
But before Hoodstarter approached him, the owner had legitimate concerns about developing the property, says Ley, or even finding a temporary tenant for the space. According to Ley and Berglund, even well-meaning property owners who care about their neighborhoods can be overwhelmed by the cost, time investment and risks associated with finding a commercial tenant or developing a space on their own.
 
And, counterintuitively, many owners prefer to leave their properties empty as commercial land values rise, in the hopes of cashing out as the market peaks. Hoodstarter’s success will depend on its ability to convince property owners that they stand to gain from filling vacancies now, not waiting to sell later.
 
If all goes well, the owner of the vacant South Minneapolis property may soon have a new tenant or buyer. Last fall, Hoodstarter held a Better Block event at the site itself, continuing the conversation that began online.
 
According to Ley and Berglund, this hybrid model — using in-person events to publicize vacant properties and build support for the best usage ideas — could be a big component of Hoodstarter’s model going forward. But first, they need to fill some vacancies.
 
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