Southwest Minneapolis restaurant boom serves up taste of tension

  • Article by: ALEJANDRA MATOS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 20, 2014 - 9:54 AM

In parts of Minneapolis, residents are bristling over parking, noise issues

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Jeff and Liz Genrich and their boys gather at the Red Cow, a former Blockbuster, where parking has been restricted.

Photo: RENEE JONES SCHNEIDER • reneejones@startribune.com, Star Tribune

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Zumbro Cafe in Linden Hills is expanding into the former florist shop next door. Down the street, the former Bayers Hardware is being turned into another new restaurant.

In the Fulton neighborhood to the south, a former Blockbuster video store is now the Red Cow, a burger and beer spot so popular that nearby residents are up in arms about patrons parking on their streets day and night. Across W. 50th Street, a bead store is being converted to an upscale salad-bar-themed restaurant, adding to parking woes.

The restaurant scene in Minneapolis is booming, driven by a stronger economy, a surge in residential development and increased appetite among young adults for eating out.

For many, the added bustle is welcome, making those areas more lively. But others bristle at the changes such growth brings.

In some parts of the city, the new restaurant scene is creating noise, parking and traffic issues on what used to be quiet residential streets. Adding to the concern: As more restaurants opt for neighborhood locations, they drive out other retailers and alter the fabric of the neighborhood.

“We don’t want it to turn into nothing but food and drink or big-box stores,” said Linda McHale, owner of Corner Store Vintage at Lake Street and Bryant Avenue S. in the Uptown neighborhood. “You need to have some walkability, where people can cruise around and go into shops.”

After residents complained about cars parked in front of their homes, the streets near Red Cow have adopted permit-only parking for certain hours.

Agra Culture Kitchen & Press, opening across the street, had to include eight off-street parking spots after several area residents raised parking concerns, according to Grant Wilson, the city’s manager of licensing and consumer services.

In Linden Hills, Tilia is packed each night but offers no off-street parking, so customers often end up parking along Linden Hills Boulevard, raising the ire of homeowners.

Kristin Tombers, owner of Clancey’s Meats & Fish in Linden Hills, said that the parking situation in the neighborhood is awful but that she still welcomes local restaurants.

What Tombers does not want to see is big corporate development. She was a strong opponent to a new luxury apartment development that is replacing the Famous Dave’s in the heart of Linden Hills.

“It would be unfortunate if this one day became 50th and France,” she said, referring to Edina’s bustling business and restaurant district.

Retail squeeze

In Uptown, McHale said the influx of restaurants has brought in new customers who browse the store, but she also said she does not want to see more retail shops converted into restaurants.

“I hope that a lot of the small retailers can just stay,” she said.

But there’s no sign of letup. The Ackerberg Group, a commercial real estate company, has been inundated with queries about the yet-unnamed restaurant it’s building in the former Bayers Hardware store.

“There is a tremendous amount of interest to develop in this location. Spring is here and we’re ready to build the next hip restaurant,” said Hugh Byrne of Ackerberg Group.

Growing on success

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  • Server Crystal Lade waited on Jeff and Liz Genrich and their two boys at the Red Cow last week on W. 50th Street in southwest Minneapolis. After residents complained about cars parked in front of their homes, streets near the burger and beer spot adopted permit-only parking for certain hours.

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