Two nights before the Aug. 8 grand opening of Askov Finlayson's expanded store, Gov. Mark Dayton rose to offer a toast during a dinner held in its honor. He humorously recalled attempting to try on an extra-large shirt from the menswear store in Minneapolis' North Loop, but not being able to button it.

Still, he said, he "couldn't be more proud."

The governor was there lending his support not just as a political leader, but as a father — the store's two owners, Eric and Andrew Dayton, happen to be his sons.

The pair had invited a small group of journalists, business partners, family members and friends to mark the store's opening with a preview and a dinner in the second-floor event space of the brothers' Bachelor Farmer restaurant. Former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak was among the crowd. The current mayor, Betsy Hodges, stopped by earlier to make opening remarks, lauding Eric and Andrew for their contributions to the North Loop.

The show of support from local leaders was no happy accident. Through their renovation of disused old buildings, the Dayton brothers' businesses have helped revitalize a neighborhood and preserve some history in the process.

A store, a bar, a restaurant

Over coffee at the Bachelor Farmer the following Sunday, Eric Dayton said that being a positive part of the community "was very much the motivation" behind his retail and restaurant ventures. Before becoming an entrepreneur and small-business owner, Dayton had been busy finishing an MBA at Stanford University and campaigning with Andrew in support of their father's 2010 gubernatorial bid.

"When I got to Stanford I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do," he said, "but I knew I wanted to come back to Minneapolis and make some kind of contribution to the city."

By the time the former Marvel Rack Manufacturing building at 200 N. 1st St. became available for sale, Dayton said, "it felt like the neighborhood had a lot of potential." In 2011, following an extensive renovation, Eric and Andrew opened their Swedish-inspired Bachelor Farmer, the speakeasy-styled Marvel Bar and Askov Finlayson, named for two northern Minnesota towns.

The trifecta garnered national press from Bon Appétit and Esquire, and last year Bachelor Farmer chef Paul Berglund was named a James Beard Award finalist.

But the Dayton brothers didn't stop there. In 2012 they purchased the adjacent building, the former Hennepin Hotel, where they planned to relocate Askov Finlayson and the offices for their newly established holding company, North Corp. (Last year Andrew moved to San Francisco to oversee production of Askov Finlayson's clothing line, leaving Eric to take over day-to-day operations. Andrew has since taken a full-time job at the San Francisco mayor's office, although he continues to consult on the North businesses.)

A grown-up clubhouse

Three years later, those expansion plans have become reality. At 1,800 square feet, the new Askov Finlayson is nearly twice the size of the original store and includes a sleek showroom devoted to Warby Parker eyewear — the hip, Brooklyn-based brand's first retail outpost in the state.

With its forest-green walls, teak furnishings and brass fixtures alongside playful touches such as a bubble hockey table — a nod to the brothers' childhood days spent at the rink — the store evokes a grown-up clubhouse.

As with the original location, the merchandise is a thoughtful mix of durable yet tailored menswear, rugged footwear and outdoor gear, with a corner dedicated to small leather goods and apothecary items as well as an expanded selection of suiting. Near the entrance is a selection of Askov Finlayson's in-house brand of pants, shorts and shirts and North logo stocking caps.

In addition to the new storefront and offices (on the building's second and third floors), a patio and green space were installed between the two buildings — formerly a crumbling, blacktop-covered alley. A new sliding-glass door opens up to the patio, which will be home to a retrofitted Airstream trailer serving beer, wine and snacks next summer.

Meanwhile, construction is underway to transform the former Askov Finlayson storefront into a cafe operated by the Bachelor Farmer and Marvel Bar this fall.

Charitable works

The Daytons' civic contributions go beyond refashioning old buildings into North Loop hot spots. For the past two years, they've participated in the Minnesota Keystone Program, donating 5 percent of their businesses' pretax earnings to community groups including the Northside Achievement Zone and Land Stewardship Project. In 2012, the Bachelor Farmer helped raise money to plant trees in the North Loop, and all of the proceeds from its recent Kräftskiva block party were donated to the Mississippi River Fund. Chef Berglund also serves on the board of directors of the Sustainable Farming Association, and Eric Dayton is on boards for the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

"Giving back to the community has been part of our company's DNA since the beginning," Eric Dayton said. "We've always been very proud to be from Minneapolis, and we want to be a part of seeing it continue to grow and evolve."