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Restaurant going into old Walker Library

It looks as if the former Walker Library in Uptown is on its way to becoming a restaurant. Again.

According to plans filed with the city’s Heritage Preservation Commission, the 105-year-old neoclassical building – located at 2901 Hennepin Av. S. and last used as a library in 1981 – is being retrofitted from its last use as a yoga studio and gym into a 5,500 square foot restaurant.

Owner Ned Abdul has asked the city for permission to build a deck that would wrap around the building’s southern (side) and eastern (rear) facades, along with a few smaller alterations. The deck would be on the same level as the building’s main floor, which is seven feet off the ground.

The building’s most recognizable façade faces west, to Hennepin Avenue.

The proposal doesn’t include details on the restaurant itself, only the structure.

The building (shown above in a 1979 Star Tribune file photo) was named for the donor of the land beneath it -- Thomas Barlow Walker, the lumber baron and founder of the Walker Art Center -- and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. It was decommissioned as a library after a new facility was built across Hennepin Avenue. That replacement lasted for just over three decades before being replaced in 2014 by the current Walker Library.

The building has stood empty for several years. Past incarnations have included a secondhand clothing store, offices, a spa and, in the 1980s and 1990s, several restaurants. Diners with long memories may recall Brian’s Seafood Casa, the Library Cafe and, before that, the Old Library Cafe.

Abdul's Swervo Development is currently renovating the historic Minneapolis Armory into an events center (that project recently hit a speed bump with city officials) and recently sold three historic downtown Minneapolis properties (510 Marquette, 300 1st Av. N. and 123 N. 3rd St.) for $87.5 million. 

Cooks of Crocus Hill headed to the North Loop

Cooks of Crocus Hill is opening its first Minneapolis outlet, in the city’s North Loop neighborhood.

That is to say that co-owners (and spouses) Karl Benson and Marie Dwyer are taking a to-be-determined form of their patented blend of cooking school and retail shop to the city’s hottest restaurant neighborhood.

“A sort of best-of-all-possible-worlds is how we’re looking at it,” said Benson. “It won’t literally be Cooks of Crocus Hill, but it will have pieces of it, it’ll be a Cooks riff. We’re trying to figure out how to take the best of Cooks, massage it a bit and make it work for that space, and work for the neighborhood. We’re just not exactly sure what that is at this junction.”

Cooks currently operates three retail/cooking school locations — on St. Paul’s Grand Avenue, at 50th and France in Edina and on Stillwater’s Main Street (pictured, above, in a Star Tribune file photo). Benson and Dwyer operate a pair of small Cooks retail outlets inside the Kowalski’s Markets stores in White Bear Lake and Woodbury.

Whatever form it takes, their North Loop outpost is going into 208 N. 1st St., in the space long occupied by Local D’Lish, and next door to Askov Finlayson and the Bachelor Farmer and across the street from Spoon and Stable.

Opening date? “We’re shooting for May or June,” said Benson.

As for Local D’Lish, the farm-to-table-focused store has closed after nearly eight years of showcasing locally produced foods. Owner Ann Yin is hosting a final sales event on Thursday (Feb. 11) from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“I hope you will be able to join me and my family to say good-bye while enjoying some great discounts on inventory, equipment and general merchandise,” she said in a statement. “Stop in to shop, share stories and give me a big hug. Thank you for sharing this journey with me. I genuinely treasure this experience.”

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