Peter's Grill

, Star Tribune file photo

Flanagan: When is a $445 deck chair actually a bargain?

  • Article by: Barbara Flanagan
  • Star Tribune
  • July 3, 2011 - 8:00 PM

The Flanagan Memo - Re: Sidewalk cafes, for or against, plus have a happy July 4th.

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Have you been yearning to own a work by artist Damien Hirst ever since you saw that infamous pickled bull's head he created for the lobby of Ralph Burnet's Le Meridien Chambers hotel downtown at 9th and Hennepin?

Now is your chance.

Hirst, you see, has designed a deck chair. Yes, an old-fashioned deck chair. It costs only $445 at New York's Gagosian Shop.

That's a bargain for Hirst, who also created the famous diamond-studded skull, but he must have set the price for art lovers who can't afford his usual prices.

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Now here is some good news. Peter's Grill, believed to be the oldest restaurant in Minneapolis, has added about eight sidewalk tables. Bravo!

The restaurant, where President Bill Clinton lunched and where I delight in their soups and pies (particularly rhubarb), is on 8th Street at 2nd Avenue S. It has been serving us since 1914.

There's been no talk of music there, but at some other outdoor cafes, including those in the Uptown neighborhood, the noise of people talking and music playing has spawned complaints.

It won't be easy, but there must be a way to keep the neighbors happy and still allow for pleasant summer dining.

There are many new apartments going up around Uptown and some are very close to the bars and restaurants. New residents will have to fit in and cope or else we just tear everything down.

Both sides have a point, but I think with a bit of careful planning, patrons will continue to enjoy the sidewalk and rooftop spots. The restaurant owners can learn to better mask whatever is too noisy.

And the residents may have to close their windows, but only occasionally.

• • •

Bette Hammel, an excellent writer and an expert on architectural styles, is producing a new book titled "Legendary Homes of Minneapolis City of Lakes" with her photographic sidekick, Karen Melvin.

Among the houses on their list is the Rufus Rand mansion on Lake Harriet, which is now owned by Jim and Nancy McGlynn Phelps, who brought it back to livability.

Rand had a railing of brass that was the work of St. Paul native sculptor Paul Manship, perhaps best known for his statue of Prometheus that towers over Rockefeller Center in New York City. That railing is long gone, but the couple have re-created the effect by installing a glass railing that features etched images of Manship creations. It is unusual and only one of the very special items now in the house.

While you wait to see more, read Hammel and Melvin's first book, "Legendary Houses of Lake Minnetonka."

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If you like historic reading, then get to "The Biggest Dance: A Miracle on Concrete," by Beth Obermeyer, the tap dancer who in 1979 put together what was then the largest tap chorus in history to celebrate the opening of the Hennepin Center for the Arts. Lots of people said it couldn't happen, but 1,800-plus tap dancers on Hennepin Avenue proved them wrong. Now it is definitely on the record, and with pictures.

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You have until July 31 to laugh yourself giddy at the Jungle Theater's production of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum." The music and lyrics are by Stephen Sondheim, and it was directed splendidly by John Command.

Forget about the unnecessary fuss to rename nearby Lake Calhoun -- the Park Board lawyer says it would be illegal -- just go to the play and don't stop laughing.

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