Boring Public a Culprit in Loss of Treasured Businesses

Last week, the owners of Nye’s Polonaise Room announced that the beloved Northeast Minneapolis bar would be closing next year to make way for a residential tower of some sort. It’s pretty sketchy what that will ultimately entail, but quotes from the developer indicate that the existing building will need to be demolished to make a tower work on the site, which is pretty small. It’s worth pointing out that, by now, you’d hope that smart developers know to start out with something crazy to then negotiate down to what they actually want to do. Also, the developer in question lost the nearby/huge Pillsbury “A” Mill complex to foreclosure after proposing an ambitious redevelopment plan about five years ago, so who knows, anything is possible in real estate. In any case, it seems like the bar & restaurant itself will be closing. The owners say they can’t make Nye’s work as a business anymore, but of course you’d want to take that statement with a pretty big grain of salt.

Save Nyes

Area Luddite lacks Facebook, more at 10

Lots of reactions to the news on the Internet. A Facebook group, Save Nye’s Polonaise, was formed and managed to rack up over 8,000 likes. It’s kind of an odd situation; there’s no way, legally, to force anyone to keep Nye’s open, though the City can certainly prevent the buildings themselves from being demolished. The two and three story structures on the site date back to 1907 and 1905, respectively. Very old! Older than–just spit-balling here–99.99% of the currently-standing buildings in Minnesota. Recently, the City Council has allowed the demolition of a 104 year old Gluek’s tavern in Cedar-Riverside (to make room for apartments) but did not allow the demolition of a fairly unremarkable one story commercial building dating to the 1920s in Dinkytown. So kind of a mixed bag there. I think it would be fair to say that, generally, people are much more upset about losing Nye’s than losing the buildings.

Anyway, Nye’s itself is pretty cool. It was named the Best Bar in America by Esquire in 2006, the same year that Eden Prairie was ranked one of the Top Ten Best Places to Live in America by Money Magazine. I want to say I’ve been there four times since being of legal drinking age, but one trip was a Pedal Pub stop, so we’ll say “annually.” From perusing the Facebook and unfortunately having a Twitter and hearing and seeing lots of miscellaneous commentary about this, many opinions on this topic are held by people who do not frequent Nye’s on the regular. (…granted, many of their regulars may not have Twitter)

But rather than go the extremely easy route with this one (i.e. when’s the last time any of you went tho?/who’s a REAL Minneapolitan contest) we could probably ask a broader question. How come Minneapolis doesn’t have a lot more cool, old stuff like Nye’s? Minneapolis doesn’t have a ton of history compared to, say, Boston. As a city, we’re pretty new. Parts of the city proper were literally open country when my grandparents were born. Much of what was here before then, including almost the whole downtown core and many other things, was bulldozed. Which, we ought to keep in mind all the time every day, was very progressive and en vogue at that time. For every cool thing we still have like Mayslack’s or Murray’s, much more has been lost–you can look to the Lost Twin Cities series or James Lileks’ awesome website for examples.

Very endearingly Stuart Little. Would highly recommend you have your dad take you there while he's in town for work. (Source: Google Streetview)

Very good. Would highly recommend you have your dad take you there while he’s in town for work. (Source: Google Streetview)

Who is responsible for our lost sense of place and character? Certainly on some level, when we’re thinking about our built environment and freeways and “slum clearance,” we can conveniently blame the government or, in some cases, real estate developers. But when you think about the actual businesses (as it appears many people are this month) like the independent grocery stores, restaurants, bars, movie theaters, and so on, it’s hard to blame the government. Who is responsible for those things going away?

We are! We, the consumers. As a rule, probably avoid using the word “consumer” (esp. in place of “citizen”) but when we’re talking about our commercial spaces, it works.

In general, people do not put their money where their mouths are, when it comes to interesting things in our urban environment. Even within the city limits, people buy frozen food at Target and come home and watch bad reality TV and, when they want to go crazy, they go out and eat at Applebee’s. And, I cannot stress enough, my point (for the purposes of this post) is not that people should not do that or that they’re bad people for doing that, but rather, people should spend their money differently if they want more neat, old, unique stuff like Nye’s. Businesses will appreciate your patronage considerably more than your likes on Facebook.

It’s sort of a weird country we live in, where people in Mesa, Arizona and Manchester, New Hampshire and Minneapolis, Minnesota basically shop at the same six stores and eat at the same ten restaurants. Even our houses are built by national chains. Certainly some part of this is financial–Wal-Mart and McDonald’s employees only being able to afford shopping at Wal-Mart and eating at McDonald’s, etc.

A Chili's in Woodbury or Burnsville or Topeka

A Chili’s in Woodbury or Burnsville or Woodbury, NJ

But, for many, and in particular the type of people who might loudly protest the closing of a beloved neighborhood bar, you do have a choice.

It will probably cost more. And I don’t mean to pick on the Facebook group specifically, but just as a matter of math, I’m pretty sure that a significant portion (I dunno, 75% maybe?) of that 8,000 people could figure out how to budget shopping at a co-op (or other local grocery store) and eating at locally-owned restaurants or even going to a barbershop rather than a Great Clips–I struggle with that last one. Still need to find a regular barber.

In the abstract, people hate that Dinkytown is getting all corporate/developed/full of chain stores. People wearing Ugg boots and North Face jackets carrying Macbooks while drinking Starbucks could be reached for comment about Dinkytown, and ugh, so corporate now. Though to be honest, other than CVS putting House of Hanson out of business, Dinkytown isn’t particularly more chain storey than it was ten years ago. That ship sailed a while ago. You can’t run a business on prime real estate by selling cigarettes and chasers. If people want places like House of Hanson to stay open, they need to actually shop at House of Hanson. (Note: By the time Target Express opened up, House of Hanson was long gone–and if you think about it, long-term, a Target Express in Dinkytown may be worth it if every year it exposes thousands of college students from the second ring suburbs to the possibility of forgoing a car, but that’s a whole other thing.)

It’s possible that we could be building a considerably more endearing environment for ourselves around here. Americans and Minnesotans pay good money to fly to France and walk around because it’s cool to do that in France. Europe as a concept has been wrung pretty dry by streets.mn, but consider that for a second. In recent memory, approximately one hundred thousand University of Minnesota students from, say, Maple Grove, studied abroad in, say, Barcelona, Instagrammed the hell out of it, came back to the states, and then moved back to the suburbs after graduating. And again, you know, free country. But re-Facebooking old pictures of a cafe in #Copenhagen aren’t doing you any good in real life if you’re doing it as you’re driving into the parking lot of a Noodles & Company.

Disclaimer: The author was in Chicago this past weekend and ate three (3) Dunkin’ Donuts. At one point, he walked up to an intersection in Wrigleyville and accidentally said aloud, “Wow, lots of local businesses around here.” He also has a pair of Ugg boots–sorry!!!!!!

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46 Responses to Boring Public a Culprit in Loss of Treasured Businesses

  1. Bill Lindeke
    Bill Lindeke December 10, 2014 at 11:16 am #

    I shopped at that Target for the first time last week (to buy a pair of earbuds) and had the same thought. How many car trips to the Quarry does that store prevent each year? Tens of thousands?

    • Rosa December 10, 2014 at 5:22 pm #

      That Target is the best (in my fairly limited comparison, which basically only includes the ones at the Quarry, Lake Street, and 66th Street) for kids stuff. Apparently nobody downtown buys kids coats, so they all go on clearance. And last winter they still had kids hats and gloves after every other place in town had sold out of them.

  2. Walker Angell
    Walker Angell December 10, 2014 at 12:33 pm #

    Great post.

    It’s not just places being replaced by corporate chains but places being replaced by far away big-box stores. The Rainbow by us closed a couple of months ago and now we have to drive 4 extra miles each way to the next closest grocery. And an extra 5 miles to Home Depot after our local hardware closed.

    It’s always puzzled me why our suburbs are overflowing with chain restaurants and Caribou Coffee’s but few/no good places. We have to drive in to St Paul for a decent Cappuccino, lunch, or dinner*.

    * We do have Paninos which is pretty good but you can’t eat there every day. Well, I suppose I could. But I won’t. Suishin is quite good sushi but limited offerings for others so I don’t get to eat there as often as I’d like. Taste of Scandinavia was OK but a string of customer service issues and food quality put us off it. Healthier locally sourced and prepared food, clean tables, and all of the staff welcoming instead of only about half would be good. Otherwise it’s chain places, not overly appealing sports bars with 100 mediocre offerings on their menu, or a longer drive in to town.

    • Monte Castleman
      Monte Castleman December 10, 2014 at 3:15 pm #

      Good article, and thanks for not passing judgement on people like me that only go to “boring” places. It seems over and over again a cool place is closing, then people that haven’t patronized it in years come out of the woodwork. As for why no “good” places in the suburbs (Kozlaks Royal Oaks and Buca’s are exceptions), I think to some degree suburbanites want to go to boring, inexpensive, and cheap places, and also they expect “good” places to be in the city, and are willing to drive there on occasion. My stepsister and her husband will drive into the city on a Friday night, eat a nice meal, and then leave for their hobby farm and that’s the only time they’re ever in the city.

      • Bill Lindeke
        Bill Lindeke December 10, 2014 at 3:48 pm #

        Hey I have personally witnessed Magrino take people to the Chili’s in Burnsville.

        • Nick Magrino
          Nick Magrino December 10, 2014 at 4:24 pm #

          That Chili’s, man.

          Chiliocalypse ’15 party bus TBA

          • Julie Kosbab December 10, 2014 at 4:27 pm #

            Party bus?

            Let’s do this right. You need a stretch Hummer.

            • Nick Magrino
              Nick Magrino December 10, 2014 at 5:01 pm #

              It all starts with a dream:

              http://mapq.st/1wzu7l2

              • Matt Brillhart December 11, 2014 at 8:19 am #

                If there’s ever a bus route that runs around the 494/694 loop, I think you just made a strong case for naming it the Chili’s Line.

              • Julie Kosbab December 11, 2014 at 9:46 am #

                And you thought it was a nightmare to reach my East Side HQ.

                If I attempted to hold a BBQ at World HQ, you’d feel like Charlie and the MTA.

  3. Julie Kosbab December 10, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

    Meanwhile:
    http://blogs.citypages.com/blotter/2014/12/nyes_is_hiring.php

    Nye’s is hiring so all the nostalgia-seekers who are outraged about the closing can go there for the first time in years. I know you said you didn’t want to beat that drum, but it’s not insignificant.

  4. Scott Shaffer
    Scott December 10, 2014 at 4:39 pm #

    Go to Kenwood Barbers next to Sebastian Joe’s at Hennepin and Franklin. I get my hair cut by Paul. $16.

  5. Rosa December 10, 2014 at 5:37 pm #

    I live in a relatively cheap-rent neighborhood, so we have all the great little divey places (and we’re starting to get much fancier ones – I’m in between Tiny Diner & Sonora Grill, but there’s a whole stretch of great cheap spots in that big stretch.

    But anyway, I do a lot of shopping & eating out at little local places that have so much character it’s like they’re trying to drive you away. I think that’s the real reason the “boring” places win – Nye’s, Matt’s & Wellna have lasted so long because they mastered business concepts like “always being open” and “always having all the expected items” and “do not act too cool for your customers” (and for Nye’s, for many many years “always having the same live music so people get what they expect instead of a crapshoot”) Those are things lots of small, local businesses just can’t get a handle on, or lose the ability to achieve when the proprietor gets ill or distracted but won’t let go of the reins. Not just restaurants but the small groceries and other retailers.

    I hope the owners of Nye’s make out like bandits on their real estate deal, that good mixed-use development fills in that space and that some of the cool, little places getting priced out of Northeast come fill some of the holes on Broadway and East Lake (just not the repeatedly doomed NE corner of Lake & Bloomington, that’s too sad.)

  6. Rosa December 10, 2014 at 6:24 pm #

    Also – sorry to triple-post here, but is it possible that facing one of the last really car-heavy streets in that area is hurting Nye’s business these days? I mean, assuming it’s not just that they got a really good offer from the developer?

    You wouldn’t stumble onto Nye’s from the theater or restaurants in St Anthony Main if you were walking, because of the hill blocking visibility & routing foot traffic east. And up at the same elevation, people just wandering around the more walked areas – going to that Lund’s, or some of the bars and restaurants on Central – aren’t going to find it spontaneously because there’s about a block of nothing much between them and Nye’s and no real reason to stroll down Hennepin. In a car or on a bike, the traffic and visibility on Hennepin are kind of scary. Drivers aren’t just going to see Nye’s from a car and be able to pull over and park quickly to just check it out. You kind of have to know it’s there and come in from the back if you’re driving.

    • Wayne December 11, 2014 at 10:04 am #

      You make a really good point about the streets. I live in the neighborhood and Hennepin/1st are a nightmare to walk around at rush hour. Hennepin has somewhat better sidewalks and every intersection is actually signalized, but 1st is just awful.

      They need to do something about these car sewers through an ostensibly walkable area NOW instead of waiting for a *possible* streetcar at some distant point in the future. People live there today and shouldn’t have to wait ten years just so the city can save a few bucks doing it all at once. There’s changes they can make now that wouldn’t interfere with the streetcar or could be done cheaply enough that it wouldn’t be too much of a shame in 5-10 years if it had to be undone. Changes that would improve the quality of life for people who live, work and shop in the area immensely. Like traffic calming on ALL of 1st ave NE, or curb outs along E Hennepin.

      Also, is there any possibility of ever making University NOT a truck route? The sheer number (and speed, and noise, and exhaust) of the trucks alone destroys any semblance of this being an ‘urbane’ area. Can’t the trucks be routed further northeast along another street instead of plunging through this area?

      • Rosa December 11, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

        This summer I got to drive a small box truck for my job in Northeast a couple times, and I think the answer about University might be “no”. Northeast is FULL of trucking and light industrial companies, and there are only so many ways to get from NE to the other parts of town or to the highways.

  7. Chris Kearns December 10, 2014 at 7:47 pm #

    Let me start by saying I have only been to Minn. once, and never been to the place mentioned in the article. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I am an entrepreneur & real estate investor in an old space in a quickly growing college town – kind if like a suburb without a city. I may never have been to Nye’s, but the scenario repeats over and over across the US.

    Rosa is right, it may be just the right time for the owners of Nye’s to sell out, especially if they own their building. They can’t make as much by leasing it to another operator, because 1) the prices are probably based on them having the building paid for. A new operator will have to pay rent, obviously. 2) If they eventually want to sell, they won’t sign a long lease. And no operatorbis going to buy a business for a substantial amount of money with only a short term lease on the bldg. Some folks just barely made it through the recession, and said “When the market comes back, and someone calls about buying, let’s sell. I don’t want to go through that again.” I’ve said it myself, and I’m only 39.

    Someone else asked why the suburbs are filled with boring places: suburban storefrpnt rent is usually much higher than other areas because it is all new. To paraphrase the great Jane Jacobs, ‘new spaces need old ideas, new ideas need old spaces’ (Death & Life of Great American Cities, 1961). What she meant is that new buildings are much more expensive to build and therefore to rent, so the only businesses that can afford higher rents are established businesses, franchises basically. Plus, many of the new places (apts & retail) get sold within the first 2-3 years after completion to some REIT, or insurance company from out of town. All the developer cares about is getting top dollar at the sale so they can do another project somewhere else, and franchises are known to be good payers. That is all the institutional investor cares about.

    On the other hand, old spaces are usually smaller, have less parking, etc, but they are more likely to be paid for or owned by investors who bought them many years ago and don’t have to get top rent to survive. They can afford to rent to smaller startups or quirky indie shops who must operate with a smaller budget. Thry are also more likely to be owned by local investors who are living off the income, not trying to sell it to an institilutional buyer.

    If they want to sell out and retire to someplace warm, or put their extended family through college, good for them. Sounds like they “kept it real” for a long time. And if you didn’t already know it, Jane Jacobs is the bomb.

  8. jim December 10, 2014 at 8:13 pm #

    Two obvious solutions for making us less boring per capita:

    1. Rebrand the region “North.”

    2. Put SWLRT extension down either Hennepin or Nicollet.

    Boom. Automatic more interesting, per capita.

    • Nick Magrino
      Nick Magrino December 11, 2014 at 8:08 am #

      I haven’t heard anything about #2

      • jim December 11, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

        I know, it’s per capita unfortunate. Streets.mn should really think about publishing an article arguing for putting a light rail down Hennepin or Nicollet.

        • Andrew B December 11, 2014 at 2:49 pm #

          What is this “SWLRT” thing you speak of?

          • jim December 11, 2014 at 6:30 pm #

            My locally curated farm-to-smartphone social networks make no reference to SWLRT, so I don’t actually know what it is, but I’ve heard people talking about it at my favorite taproom, which serves the best hop forward IPAs. So I presume that SWLRT is huge in Denver and Portland and that the NY Times got a detail about it wrong in that one article. Fuckin’ national media. Some things never change.

        • Nick Magrino
          Nick Magrino December 11, 2014 at 4:45 pm #

          i can set u up with an account if u want to cover it

  9. Keith Morris December 10, 2014 at 8:20 pm #

    The “boring public” problem is much more prevalent in the burbs vs the city; in the burbs the decision for where they’re going out has already been made by chains (Freedom! ‘Murica!) with few local options within reach, let alone those that stand out. The fact that there are so many quality local establishments is a testament to that, as is the dearth thereof in the burbs.

    I’ll take a leap and say that the issue is that we’re doing something(s?) to attract the suburbanite crowd vs the shop-local urbanite to certain locations and It makes it all the more easier when you let them bring their car/bad habit with them. Uptown is the glaring example (which we should have learned from) and now the heart of NE has been seeing similar changes with the influx of luxury apartments. Notice that the farther away from these in both NE and Uptown how the number of more unique local businesses tend to be in the majority by a much greater margin?

    Nye’s is far from the first loss to gentrification/blandification: the chains which have opened up just up the block signaled that. Noodles & Co? If I ever get the desire to overpay for mediocre pasta-based dishes I can find the same anywhere else in this country. Thankfully, the prospect hasn’t whetted my appetite. Same goes for Jimmy John’s: I can prepare my own cold cut sandwich w/ mayo. And that now there’s that JL Beers abomination (with their “beer mail” schtick and now, free water after a public outcry, I don’t even…), which makes me ask a question; assuming that JL Beers still stands after Nye’s folds, was it really lack of patrons/business that closed Nye’s? JL Beers is over on 1st over on what is a otherwise a dead corner/lonely outpost/not-so-ideal location with nothing else to stop for along right on 1st next door in either direction while Nye’s is neighbors with many prominent establishments on Hennepin.

    This raises the historical building issue which I think is the main culprit and not at all lack of patrons: old structure needing lots of TLC, aka $$$. Or: sell to a developer knowing that you’ll make $$$ and that Minneapolis has torn down plenty of higher quality historic structures for less. It’s not much of a gamble really. After all, could JL Beers really be that much more busy than Nye’s on a Sun-Thurs night to stay afloat? I somehow doubt it.

    • Adam Miller
      Adam Miller December 11, 2014 at 11:21 am #

      Nye’s is a novelty. Go there to eat and the food is overpriced and mostly stuff that you’re not going to want to eat every often.

      And how often are you going to want to listen to drunk people sing badly at the piano bar? Occasionally, but not regularly.

      And don’t get me started on just how terrible the Most Danderous Polka Band in the World is.

      Nye’s can be a lot of fun, but it really is a different creature from the businesses you’re comparing it to. It’s not a “let’s go grab a bite” place. It’s a “let’s do something fun and different.”

    • Rosa December 11, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

      I don’t think it’s fair to call the suburbanite crowd boring, because gentrification causes boringness everywhere.

      Uptown used to be full of little interesting places. Then it got more expensive, and they moved down Lake Street into Lynnlake and, towards the end of the boom (2007?), all the way over to Chi-Lake and pushing into East Lake. It seems like part of what happened is that kids growing up in the suburbs in the ’80s (when Uptown was cheap and downright dangerous) and ’90s (when it was half-gentrified and boho) wanted “interesting” and always aspired to live in Uptown. The same thing has happened in Northeast, which used to be an interesting/quirky ethnic old people enclave – and one where young couples who wanted interesting instead of suburban could buy a house to have a baby in.

      It’s what Chris (and Jane Jacobs) said – price. New buildings and buildings in trendy areas are expensive. Chains are good at expensive real estate – they have bigger market shares, lower purchasing costs, more efficient labor management. “Interesting” “indy” and “niche” follow cheap rents. High capital investment requires bland because it’s low-risk.

      • Joe Bob December 15, 2014 at 4:39 pm #

        Your last paragraph is one of the most important points in this whole thread. The basic machinery of business finance today does not work for independent businesses or anything else unique or unknown.

        Insofar as you want a tenant or a new development to be a sure thing, you go with the one who has deep pockets and a track record. That’s why Jimmy John’s and Noodles go into new storefronts and independent businesses do not.

  10. Daniel Herriges December 11, 2014 at 8:24 am #

    Car-dominated environments put chain establishments at a huge advantage over local places with less name recognition. You aren’t going to randomly stop while driving to check out a place you know nothing about, you’re going to go somewhere familiar or at least whose sign a) extremely clearly communicates what it is and b) is big enough to read at 45 mph or however fast you’re driving—which is expensive for the business. As is having enough land to accommodate parking to suburban standards.

    Your best bet in suburbia as a new entrepreneur is to locate in a strip mall (older = cheaper rent) next to a grocery store or some other anchor tenant that is going to draw people there who will then stumble upon your store or restaurant on foot. But again, the point remains: people really only ever discover new (non-chain) businesses they love in three ways: a) stumble upon it while walking, b) word of mouth, c) Yelp, etc.

    (Tangent: at least I’m optimistic the rise of Yelp and its ilk will partially level the playing field. For example, when I’m on a road trip I now can (and do) look for the best locally-owned place to eat while passing through a town I know nothing about, instead of hitting up a chain restaurant next to the freeway.)

    None of the above is very pertinent to the question of Nye’s, but it is to the discussion in the comments of why suburbia is “boring.” Answer: the physical environment makes that almost inevitable… whether residents want it or not. And then kids who grow up in the suburbs end up wanting it because it’s what they’re used to. I have a deeply disturbing (at least to me, a born-and-bred St. Paul kid) number of friends to whom it never occurs to go anywhere other than a chain restaurant or coffee shop.

    • Monte Castleman
      Monte Castleman December 11, 2014 at 9:23 am #

      When I was on Prince Edward Island and Key West I ate at… Wendy’s.

      I’d be perfectly happy eating at chain fast food restaurants (and we stay at Holiday Inns pretty much exclusively). It’s my sister that wants to try local offerings, and I’ll concede to a point, provided it’s not too slow or expensive. But when we’re looking for someplace to eat, unless you have a Smartphone (Key West was before I got one and PEI I didn’t want to pay roaming data), you have to find one and judge by the outside whether it’s appropriate. Do they want $30 or more for an entree? Are my sweatpants appropriate attire? Are we stumbling in right before closing?

      Even at home in the suburbs, when I want something to eat I’ll go to Wendy’s. I want food and I want to get it as fast as possible, preferably without getting out of the car. Walking down to a local establishment isn’t something I do, even if such a local establishment existed. And I guess I’m part of the reason they don’t.

      • Adam Miller
        Adam Miller December 11, 2014 at 11:13 am #

        At the risk of getting preachy about nutrition: that’s not food.

        • americaisembarrassing December 17, 2014 at 4:08 pm #

          YES!! Thank you. Most people do not even know what FOOD is anymore, they open a shiny, colorful box printed with poisonous dyes, shove it into their faces in under 2 seconds and then sit on the couch. How embarrassed they should all be. Wendy’s is not food and that kind of lifestyle is NO life at all.

      • Joe Bob December 15, 2014 at 5:15 pm #

        That seems really sad to me. That said, if you don’t care about food, then you just don’t care. And if you don’t care then I guess you aren’t missing out on anything. Myself, if I were on PEI or Key West I would look for a local place with fresh seafood. You’re right on the ocean after all.

        If you actually like decent food from time to time and your hangup with an unfamiliar restaurant is not knowing what you’re getting into, then a simple suggestion is: plan ahead. Read some restaurant reviews and browse some menus before you even leave on the trip and identify a couple of appealing places. Don’t wait until you’re walking around and hungry to figure out where to eat.

  11. Andrew B December 11, 2014 at 2:58 pm #

    I guess nostalgia doesn’t pay the bills. I for one am glad the owners will be able to cash out and walk away with big bags of money. Much better way to end the story than being strapped with a failing restaurant that drags you into debt.

  12. Great Clips December 12, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    We read and appreciated this post, thanks for writing it! We just want to clarify that every Great Clips salon is locally owned by someone who lives and works in your community. The corporate brand (based in Minneapolis), which provides marketing, logistical, and technical support to local salon owners, believes strongly in the importance of locally owned businesses being a part of the communities whose trust they work hard to earn.

    • Anita Wokmore December 12, 2014 at 12:27 pm #

      Great scott

  13. Joe Bob December 15, 2014 at 5:25 pm #

    I never understood the nostalgia for House of Hanson. It was an old neighborhood convenience store that I never perceived as having any special redeeming qualities. The only shop I miss from that whole redevelopment is The Podium. That was an excellent guitar store. And yes, I spent a lot of money there.

  14. Dane Hartzell December 17, 2014 at 6:56 am #

    We live in the city so it’s much easier for us to drop in places like Nye’s without much planning. What I’ve noticed over the recent years is that some of these classic places have lost a bit of their soul. It’s almost as if their owners don’t realize what makes them special and doesn’t continue to cultivate that. Almost as if the owners are just “milking” the business. Some of my friends believe that Nye’s prices have increased while quality has dropped for example. The first time I went to Murray’s in the 80s, their servers experience pushed 70 years and they had live classic jazz with a handful of the more mature patrons dancing to it. In my more recent visits, things had changed and it seemed like it was trying to compete more with the new steakhouses and their cosmos. To me, these places need help staying current while not loosing what makes them special.

  15. Lili Johnson December 17, 2014 at 9:52 am #

    Tootie’s On Lowry in a safe, little corner of North Minneapolis near Robbinsdale, is just such a place. Quaint, and old timey, (hasn’t changed much in 30 years), it has really good, fresh food.
    Many folks come in and comment that they love how it looks the same, but others of course, want it to look new. Can’t win I guess.
    But if the nostalgia lovers, and lovers of good burgers and wings keep coming in regularly, it may be around for a while. However, competing with corporate America isn’t easy. Like this writer’s message conveys: If you don’t want to lose it- patronize it. Please.

  16. Nate O December 17, 2014 at 1:05 pm #

    A “boring public” is responsible for the owners of Nye’s (who own a chain of restaurants in the suburbs and put zero efforts in improving or marketing Nye’s) selling out to make a quick buck on the real estate? Let me think about that for a second. Nope.

    • Nick Magrino
      Nick Magrino December 17, 2014 at 4:34 pm #

      did u read the post tho?

  17. Mike S December 17, 2014 at 2:07 pm #

    Here’s my problem with much of the Minneapolis eating scene and the failure of independent local restaurants: The places that succeed have “go to” dishes that people want to revisit. A very simple example, Matt’s, we know why to go there. Murray’s, we know what they got. I go to new restaurants and they think they are Iron Chef’s. A bunch of unrelated dishes that don’t really inspire repeat visits and don’t give the restaurant an identity. Do a couple things, do them very well, establish an identity, then you can experiment with the rest of the menu.

    • Adam Miller
      Adam Miller December 17, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

      I’m not sure I see an epidemic of failure of independent (or local group anyway) restaurants.

      If we’re allowed to go up to the Murray’s price level, I’ve been to and like Corner Table, Borough, Alma, Bar La Grassa, Bachelor Farmer, Butcher and Boar, Broder’s, Prima, Zelo, Sea Change, Loring Kitchen, and probably a lot more locally-owned places I’m not thinking of right now. La Belle Vie if we’re really not price sensitive.

      And there’s a good list of others that I’ve not been to but want to try: 112 Eatery, Burch, Travail, Marin (not sure about the ownership), Piccolo, Tilia, Haute Dish, Heyday, Smack Shack.

      All of those are fine dining, but we do pretty well more downscale too, especially with the local restaurant groups: Blue Plate Group (although I’ve had bad experiences at Edina Grill), Parasole Group.

      Or more casual: Pat’s Tap, Brasa, The Anchor, World Street Kitchen, Dancing Ganesha, the Town Hall properties.

      Okay, now I’m hungry.

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