Call them crazy, but it was peanut butter that drew three attorneys -- Keri Barney, Ken Hall and Jodene Jensen -- away from their legal careers. They've left the law and opened P.B. Loco, a peanut butter sandwich shop, at the Mall of America (first floor, between Bloomingdale's and Sears, 952-854-0800).
The trio makes and packages its own peanut butter, from creamy and chunky basics to cinnamon-raisin, white chocolate-raspberry, curry spice and other variations. Inside the colorful shop (designed by KKE Architects of Minneapolis), the sandwich bar cranks out nearly 20 options ($4.95 to $5.50) on Franklin Street Bakery breads, running from p.b. and jelly to cafe mocha p.b. with pretzels and marshmallow spread.
Taking on the Skippys and the Jifs of this world is a far cry from the legal eagles' prior work.
"It's different from practicing law," said Hall. "It's fun."
When Famous Dave's parent company bought out Pickled Parrot last year, it was announced that the restaurants would be retooled as Kokomo's Island Cafes. That's changed. Instead, get ready for Bilimbi Bay. The decor and menu are aiming for a Key West, Fla., vibe, plus American-style steaks, sandwiches and desserts. All three Pickled Parrots -- in Apple Valley, Eden Prairie and Uptown Minneapolis -- should go Bilimbi (pronounced baa-limb-bee) by mid-March.
FROM THE OVEN
What had been a McGlynn's Bakery outlet in Maple Grove is soon to become the second home for both Muddy Paws Cheesecake and Diamond City Bread. When the joint venture opens in early March at 13631 Grove Dr., the Muddy Paws side will feature whole and sliced cakes from its 100-plus recipe repertoire, and the Diamond City side will showcase the same breads that have been drawing crowds to its original Elk River location.
Gluten-free are the magic words at the BitterSweet Bakery (2105 Cliff Rd., Eagan, 651-686-0112). Owner Lareen Narva has translated 15 years of gluten-free home baking (no wheat, rye, oats or barley) into a commercial venture specializing in cookies, cakes, bars, muffins and sweet breads, plus corn bread and pancake mixes.
"Most of the prepackaged gluten-free foods on the market taste like cardboard or Styrofoam," Narva said. "I know what it's like to be gluten-free, and I wanted to help people in the same position."
Lisa Carlson is out and Ty Hatfield is in as chef at Cafe Barbette (1600 W. Lake St., 612-827-5710). Hatfield, a veteran of Restaurant Alma, D'Amico Cucina and Cafe Brenda, is offering a four-course tasting menu ($28) on Monday nights, and $4 happy hour small plates weekdays from 3 to 6 p.m.
After a six-month stint, chef Scott Pampuch has left n.e. thyme.
TeaSource is expanding. Starting Saturday, owner Bill Waddington, who opened his first shop in St. Paul's Highland Village in 1988, will offer 250 varieties of loose teas at 2908 Pentagon Dr. in the St. Anthony Shopping Center, St. Anthony, 612-788-4842.
Rick Nelson is at email@example.com.