Broder family going into expansion mode

Continuing its domination of the intersection of 50th and Penn, the Broder family, which operates Broders' Pasta Bar (5000 Penn Av. S., Mpls., and Broders' Cucina Italiana (2308 W. 50th St.), is taking over the former Pierre's Bistro (2221 W. 50th St.) and converting it into a wine bar/restaurant, set to open next spring.

Molly Broder said the new place will feature 50-plus Italian wines by the glass, eight to 10 tap beers and a menu that focuses on salumi, cheeses, "and some nice little seasonal -- and hopefully authentic -- Italian small plates," she said. "Just don't expect pasta and pizza."

When Pierre Gardien made the decision to move on after a 17-year run, word got out fast.

"We feel fortunate that we found out that he was ready to go when he did, because I'm sure that someone else would have gone in if we didn't," said Broder. "We nabbed it without even formalizing our entire concept, and so we have a lot of work ahead of us."

Will the casual, evening-only operation become a waiting room for Pasta Bar patrons? "We did notice that, in the winter, people would get their beeper from us and sometimes go over to Pierre's for a glass of wine," said Broder. "We certainly won't discourage that."

More: Broder's Pasta Bar will have a sampling of its new products from Italy on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Cost is $20 (half of proceeds goes to Slow Food MN), 5000 Penn Av. S., Mpls. 612-925-9202.

Around town

Kikugawa (43 Main St. SE., Mpls.), the longtime Japanese restaurant in the Riverplace complex, has closed. The Chen family is still running Kikugawa's counter-service skyway-level branch (120 S. 6th. St., Mpls.), and Wei Chen Jr. is operating Suishin Restaurant (125 Village Center Dr., North Oaks,

Celebrate the holidays with a rare weekend dinner at Gather (1750 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., The Walker Art Center's dramatic, well-run restaurant is usually a lunch-only operation (with one exception: Thursday evenings, when the museum is open late), but it's adding Friday and Saturday dinner hours (5 to 9 p.m.) through Dec. 29.