At least one restaurant born of pandemic-era ingenuity is taking its business to the next level.

As ghost kitchens began to take off last year, friends Frederick Huballa, Shawn Edwards and Marques Johnson took advantage of an underused kitchen to create CHX as a takeout-only business. Customers would line up for scratch-made chicken tenders and biscuits from a window on the side of the Pourhouse nightclub in Uptown Minneapolis. Now, those hand-breaded tenders, crinkly fries and ultra-flaky biscuits have a home of their own. CHX is holding a soft opening July 2 at 2210 Hennepin Av. S., and will share a dining room with sister business Pizza Shark. The restaurants take over the former D'Amico and Sons on a prime Uptown corner.

"We saw there were people doing chicken concepts, but we saw an opportunity to do it better," said Huballa, who is behind the menu.

Huballa calls the new place "premium fast casual," a genre the friends describe as putting a fine-dining twist on fast eats.

Johnson said now was the time to branch out from the window that gave them their start.

"The best time to play offense is when everyone else is playing defense," he said.

Additionally, the owners say their perspective as Black entrepreneurs adds something new to the food scene.

"I believe that fried chicken's origin and authenticity comes from the Black experience in America, and there isn't a large chain that has been successful or been presented from the Black perspective in the comfort fast-casual food space," Huballa said. "I think we offer inspiration and a beacon as African Americans. Sometimes you go places, and you don't feel welcome. We want to offer more of a light than anything else."

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That's not the only fried chicken news in the neighborhood.

Local food celeb Justin Sutherland ("Top Chef," "Fast Foodies") has branched out from St. Paul and his flagship restaurant Handsome Hog (173 N. Western Av., St. Paul, to Minneapolis with Side Chick, a fast-casual fried chicken and cocktails spot (3006 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls., Sandwiches, wings and tenders make up the bulk of the menu, plus sides such as red beans and rice, cauliflower "nuggs" and sweet potato waffle fries.

And there are more openings!

Have your cereal in a bowl or a milkshake at the second location of Treats Cereal Bar & Boba, an innovative ice cream shop that also serves boba tea and waffles, at 10340 NE. Baltimore St., Blaine ( A sibling duo opened the original location in 2019 at 770 Grand Av. in St. Paul, where they made use of a special machine that grinds cereal pieces into a powder and infuses them right into the ice cream swirls.

Delayed by the pandemic and unrest in the neighborhood, Catiesha Pierson's long-awaited juice bar the Dripping Root has opened in south Minneapolis (4002 Minnehaha Av. S., Mpls., In addition to fruit and vegetable juices, look for smoothie bowls, chia seed pudding and kombucha on tap.

Opening on July 5 — bright and early at 6 a.m. — is the Misfits Collective, the latest south metro restaurant from Eyes Wide Hospitality (Burgers & Bottles, Tequila Butcher, Whiskey Inferno and more). The new spot focuses on Detroit-style pizza and craft cocktails. It takes over the former PR Sports Bar, 14889 Florence Trail, Apple Valley,