There’s a changing of the color guard afoot on Hennepin Avenue: The Green Mill restaurant is closing after 38 years, and a Red Cow is moving in.

“We’ve had a great run of almost 40 years with Green Mill in the Uptown market, but it was just time to move on from that location,” CEO Paul Dzubnar said in a statement announcing Dec. 31 as that location’s final day in business. “We are thankful to all the wonderful employees and guests who made the Uptown location what it became — a place for families and friends to hang out and enjoy the best pizza in the Twin Cities.”

Dzubnar’s statement did not explain what led to the decision to sell the locale, at 2626 Hennepin Av. S., where more than 1 million pizzas were served. Neither party has disclosed a sale price.

It’s been a time of change on that busy stretch of Hennepin Avenue. A little more than a year ago, Giordano’s, the Chicago-based pizzeria, opened its first Minnesota outlet a block to the south. Roat Osha, a Thai restaurant and bar, relocated this past summer from its 27th and Hennepin corner to Calhoun Square (it’s being replaced by a Walgreens). And three blocks to the north, D’Amico & Sons is ending its 22-year reign at the end of the year.

The Green Mill brand started in the Twin Cities in 1975 on the corner of Grand and Hamline in St. Paul. After the Uptown dining spot closes, there will be 26 Green Mills remaining in Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin.

Eleven of those are in the Twin Cities area. One of them, in Rosedale Center, is moving early next year from one side of the mall to the other near the AMC movie theater.

Dzubnar said company officials are working with the current Uptown Green Mill employees to find them spots within the St. Paul-based Hightop Hospitality family of restaurants in the metro area. Potential relocations include: Crooked Pint Ale House, Sweet Pea’s Public House, Harriet’s Inn, Green Mill Catering, Sterling Catering and Events and Deco Catering.

Once Red Cow opens on Hennepin sometime several months from now, that brand will have four locations in the Twin Cities. The others are in St. Paul’s Cathedral Hill neighborhood, Minneapolis’ North Loop and the 50th & France shopping district that straddles Edina and Minneapolis.

Red Cow owner Luke Shimp said the Hennepin Avenue address “has an urban vibrancy coupled with a close-knit feel that really resonates with our concept.”

An extensive makeover on the property will begin Jan. 15, said Shimp, who is aiming for a mid-June opening.

“We’re taking it back to the studs and starting over,” he said. The greenhouse style on the south end will be replaced by a patio, he said.

The Green Mill has been “a local neighborhood tavern since 1979,” Shimp said. “It’s exciting for us to come and give this staple our 21st-century spin on taverns.”

Another reason Shimp was drawn to the property is its 52-space parking lot. “That’s a bonus that doesn’t happen often in Uptown,” he said.

Launched in 2013 near 50th & France, Red Cow focuses on burgers, craft beer, wine and cocktails. The Cathedral Hill restaurant opened in 2014 and the third in the North Loop 2015.

 

pwalsh@startribune.com 612-673-4482 rick.nelson@startribune.com 612-673-4757