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St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman

Leah Millis, Star Tribune

St. Paul makes room for Cupcake

  • Article by: ROCHELLE OLSON
  • Star Tribune
  • April 6, 2012 - 6:52 PM

It wasn't the Treaty of Versailles or the Oslo Accords, but Mayor Chris Coleman certainly was proud of the palaver that ended the blockade of Cupcake's settlement onto Grand Avenue.

The mayor crowed about brokering peace over parking spaces so the restaurant could capture a coveted wine and beer license to open at 949 Grand Av.

With a cafe already on University Avenue in Minneapolis, owner Kevin VanDeraa needed a one-store solution to sell revenue-enhancing libations in St. Paul. Cupcake serves breakfast through dinner with luscious variations of the namesake treat as well as homemade quiches, salads and enticing soups such as carrot shrimp bisque and three-bean molé.

But parking on Grand is tight and VanDeraa was unable to come up with the requisite 10 off-street parking spots required for the 37-seat restaurant.

When the City Council declined to help him, he waved a white flag and signaled a plan to withdraw from St. Paul.

But then Coleman came up with a two-lot solution, reaching accord for the extra spots in nearby lots.

"St. Paul is open for business and I am excited to welcome Cupcake to St. Paul," Coleman declared in a news release.

Perhaps the mayor will now turn his diplomatic skills northward toward Selby Avenue where Pizza Lucé ran into an oddly inverse blockade.

Some Selby neighbors of the locally owned favorite are upset by plans for a parking lot. The pizzeria acquired a blighted parcel across the street and plans to build a landscaped parking lot to keep cars off the street near the 1183 Selby Av. restaurant.

With several popular locations throughout the Twin Cities and Duluth, Lucé is known for healthier pies with late-night delivery. Although the shop's lot has the support of the Union Park District Council and the council already approved variances, Lucé's lot is on the City Council agenda Wednesday. There's still time for diplomacy. Perhaps the mayor can find a two-slice solution.

Rochelle Olson • 651-925-5035

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