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Hot Indian Foods expanding with new locations at Mall of America, Minneapolis skyway

A popular, growing eatery with food truck roots has two new locations on the way.

Hot Indian Foods announced this week that it will debut on Level 3 North of the mega mall this summer. But that’s not all. According to one of the company’s social media feeds, another outpost in the downtown Minneapolis skyways is also in the works.

The pair of storefronts would account for the fourth and fifth locations for Hot Indian Foods, which owner Amol Dixit launched as a food truck in 2013.

Since the debut, Dixit has also added a stand at Target Field, and a year-round post at the Midtown Global Market.

Like the other locations, the MOA’s Hot Indian Foods shop will serve their signature “indurritos” (burritos filled with Indian flavors and wrapped in roti), rice bowls, seasoned “indi frites,” samosas and more.

“Hot Indian Foods is all about making Indian cuisine and culture more accessible to a broader audience,” Dixit said in a statement. “People visiting the Mall of America are there to have a good time, and we look forward to adding a little spice to their day.”

No word on the details of the skyway location, but the brand’s Twitter account posted a photo of ongoing construction last week.

Chef Lenny Russo taking over Hotel Landing's food and drink in Wayzata

Less than a year after debuting near the shores of Lake Minnetonka, Wayzata’s Hotel Landing has made a splashy new hire: longtime Twin Cities restaurant veteran and multi James Beard nominee Lenny Russo.

The former chef and owner of St. Paul’s former Heartland Restaurant and Wine Bar – who has been running the kitchen at the Commodore for the last five months – is the hotel’s new director of all food and beverage operations. He started the position, which includes overseeing weddings and events, in-room dining and both back-of-the-house and front-of-the-house operations at the on-site restaurant Nine Twenty-Five, on Monday.

Ryan Lund, Nine Twenty-Five’s opening chef, moved to North Carolina in mid-December to open his own restaurant there.

“We wanted someone who would really own it,” said Uzay Tumer, the corporate director of food and beverage for Hay Creek Hotels, Hotel Landing’s management company. “Someone who had experience with that owner-operating piece and had high standards for service and quality of food and beverage.

"What Nine Twenty-Five needs is a leader with direction to make it a player in Wayzata’s culinary scene.”

Russo took the head chef job at The Commodore Bar & Restaurant, a 1920s art-deco-themed eatery near Summit Ave. in St. Paul in September. But he’s best-known for his work at the former Heartland, an acclaimed Lowertown restaurant that was a pioneer in the farm-to-table movement locally. Russo closed the restaurant in December of 2016 after a 14-year run. Previously, he served as the executive chef at W.A. Frost from 1998 to 2002.

He has also been nominated for the James Beard award Best Chef: Midwest six times, and has been a semi-finalist in the same category three other times.

At Hotel Landing, Russo will spend some time adapting to the new role before implementing his own visible stamp. The first menu at Nine Twenty-Five touting his own dishes is expected to debut sometime in late March or April. Expect to see nods to the kind of food he prepared for many years at Heartland.

“Lenny is a super talented chef, and has a brand that’s specific to Minnesota,” Tumer said. “His forte has always been a hyper local and regional, staying in touch with all the farmers and growers. That’s what was successful for him at Heartland, and that’s what we want him to do at Nine Twenty-Five.”

Russo’s chef de cuisine at Nine Twenty-Five will be Daniel Cataldo, who has absorbed the role of interim chef since Lund’s departure. Cataldo cooked at the North Loop’s Spoon and Stable before joining the hotel under Lund.

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