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Peppers & Fries to open in former SuperAmerica

Courtesy Ben Awes and Denise Fierst

Steve and Marie Frias

Wise Acre Eatery, Victory 44, and soon Peppers & Fries. The creative conversion of old gas stations into hip neighborhood eateries gets another jump start when Peppers & Fries opens in a former SuperAmerica later this month at 39th and Lake Street in the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis.
Steve Frias and his daughter Marie Frias are the proprietors. They got their start working with their parents and grandparents (respectively), who are the owners of Boca Chica—the Twin Cities’ longest-lived Mexican restaurant and an institution on the West Side of St. Paul. Steve ran his own restaurant in Burnsville for a while. Marie has been a server, scheduler and manager in a variety of establishments.
So it was time, says Steve Frias, to open their own restaurant back in the city. They chose the old SA, which had been empty and for sale for six years, for its size and location. “That part of Lake Street is really growing, with lots of small businesses,” he says, including Forage Modern Workshop, Longfellow Market, Craftsman restaurant and Corazon gift shop. “I want to be part of that growth, with a neighborhood spot seating about 80 people.”
Peppers & Fries will be a family-oriented burger and burrito grill with 11 tv screens for viewing sports. Three garage doors will open onto a spacious patio (for dining in warmer weather). Ben Awes of the Minneapolis architecture firm CityDeskStudio, and Denise Fierst of Denise Fierst Design, have been working with Frias on the conversion.
“The building is pretty simple, but with surprisingly elegant existing brick and exposed steel columns,” Awes says. “All we did was try and stay out of the way, and highlight the best existing features!”
The interior includes polished concrete floors, exposed trusses and a simple gray color palette. “Steve has a scoreboard from an old field where he coached Little League baseball, which will be lit up on one wall,” Awes says.
The team also made sure the new restaurant compliments the existing neighborhood. “We’re not trying to be flashy,” Awes says. “Peppers & Fries is meant to be a good neighbor and serve local residents.” To keep costs down, Awes cut some of the components for the restaurant’s signage in his church basement.
The grill will have 16 beers on tap, 11 of them from local microbreweries. The Frias’ will make their own malt cups, source baked goods and tortillas from local establishments, and meats from Longfellow Market and South St. Paul. “My dad has dealt with those small business owners for years and I have those same connections,” Steve says.  

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