"We've picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off and we're moving on." So says Gail Mollner, co-owner of Blackbird, which was destroyed, along with Heidi's Minneapolis and several retail shops, in a devastating fire on Feb. 18. Mollner and Chris Stevens, her spouse and co-owner, have just signed a lease at 3800 Nicollet Av. S. in Minneapolis, about a five-minute drive from their former location at 815 W. 50th St.

The new address is about 50 percent larger than its predecessor, which translates into about 40 additional seats. "From the moment we walked in the door, we felt like it's the place we want to be," said Mollner. "It's kind of cool to have a blank slate."

They considered applying that blank slate to the menu too, but input on their Facebook page is dictating otherwise. "The overwhelming indication is that our customers want everything back exactly the way it was," said Mollner, which is good news for fans of Stevens' spicy peanut noodles, huevos rancheros and walleye po' boy. A larger tap beer selection is in the works, and Mollner said they're keeping the same moderate prices.

The couple had considered relocating the restaurant to St. Paul, where they live. "We thought, wouldn't it be nice to walk or bike to work," Mollner said with a laugh. "But we put the word out to our employees and our customers, and the response we got said we needed to stay put in Minneapolis, and that's totally fine."

If all goes smoothly, Mollner and Stevens are planning to reopen on Sept. 1.

In other Blackbird news, the tallying is finally over: Fork the Fire, the citywide benefit for the two restaurants, raised $55,000. "We just divvied it up last week," said event co-chair Molly Broder, owner of Broders' Cucina Italiana and Broders' Pasta Bar. "We're certainly happy with the way it all worked out." Broder said the owners of both restaurants will determine how the money will be spent, whether it's paying employees who lost their jobs or helping the restaurants reopen (no word yet on plans for Heidi's). "Now we're just waiting for them to ask us to issue checks," Broder said.

Coming soon: Ethiopian street food fare

That new Minneapolis ordinance permitting downtown street food is already yielding results -- starting with Duck, a 7-by-14-foot trailer run by SHE Royal Coffee (2010 E. Hennepin Av., Mpls., www.sheroyalcoffee.com) owner Samson Benti and his sister Hana Benti.

The siblings, who learned to cook from their grandparents in their native Ethiopia, will focus on quick-service variations on Ethiopian and Somali fare -- lentils and cabbage rolled in injera or pita bread, chopped meats seasoned with spices and red pepper sauce -- that Samson Benti describes as "spicy, but not crazy spicy." As soon as their trailer arrives from Florida, look for them "near the statue of the lady with the hat," Samson Benti said, referring to the bronze likeness of Mary Tyler Moore at 7th St. and Nicollet Mall.

Do they have Maple Nut?

Thanks to radio frequency identification technology, Izzy's Ice Cream (2034 Marshall Av., St. Paul) is making it possible for flavor-obsessed customers to log on to the shop's website (www.flavorup.izzysicecream. com) to see an up-to-the-minute tally of the shop's available inventory; no more dropping by and hoping against hope for a crack of Salted Caramel or Hot Brown Sugar. Cool, right?

RICK NELSON