Eastlake Craft Brewery owner Ryan Pitman didn't expect to see Wild defenseman Matt Dumba paint his business on the side of a pair of skates being auctioned off to raise money to help rebuild his business' Lake Street neighborhood.
"That was actually a surprise," said Pitman, unaware that the hockey player had frequented his establishment. "He has been one of my favorite players for a long time and he pretty much cemented that status."
Eastlake is located in the Midtown Global Market, a multicultural labyrinth of restaurants and stores on Lake Street. The building sustained property damage and several neighbors saw their businesses destroyed after George Floyd was killed.
Pitman was trying to keep his business afloat through shutdowns due to COVID-19 and help his neighborhood after social unrest over Floyd's death.
While in the Twin Cities during the Wild's season, Dumba had grown to love the market because it reminded him of his home in Calgary, Alberta. Across from the brewery is Manny's Tortas, ''my favorite sandwich spot ever,'' he said.
"I always end up stopping in or just grabbing something from both places," Dumba said. "That's my connection there. Just being able to go down to that area and just be able to have all the different foods from around the world, you don't really find that in too many places in Minnesota."
Proceeds from Dumba's fundraiser, aided by the NHL and the Wild, were part of an initial $5.5 million in grants from The Lake Street Council to help the area recover. The Wild and the NHL gave matching $50,000 donations to Dumba's personal pledge of $100,000 to the council.
Pitman said his rent was cut in half for three months. Eastlake recently received two anonymous grants to help it during a time in which it has moved to delivering beer and food from the market, for free.
While the money has helped Lake Street, Pitman said what he sees around the market is a neighborhood still in shock.
"The damage is all still there, all this time later," Pitman said recently. "I don't know, it just has this weird vibe. A bunch of the buildings are still boarded up, there's graffiti everywhere. The neighborhood, I feel like we're all still experiencing some kind of collective PTSD."