Downtown Minneapolis has a fresh new coffee shop and the beginnings of what entrepreneurs Ben Hertz and Dean Phillips hope will be the Twin Cities’ next local java chain now that Penny’s (100 Washington Av. S., Mpls., has opened its doors.

The compact cafe offering up Spyhouse and La Colombe coffees and French-style crêpes officially welcomed customers on Monday after a quiet opening over the weekend in the newly renovated 100 Washington Square building.

In the office building filled with technology firms, a walnut island bar sits under globe lights that are suspended from the 41-foot ceiling. Mustard leather banquettes and stone tables, designed in a marble-like pattern, trace the unobstructed view through the glass walls. The space — which will ultimately have a patio as well — was added to the building’s frame this year after Shorenstein real estate bought the property.

“We just really lucked out by the new landlord’s design,” Hertz said. “On a sunny day, the Foshay Tower peeks out on one side and City Hall peeks out on the other end. It’s a great escape.”

The food focus at the 38-seat shop, named for Hertz’s family’s former supermarket chain, is sweet and savory crêpes — think ham and Gruyère, roasted shiitake and banana-Nutella — but Patisserie 46 (4552 Grand Av. S., Mpls.,, 612-354-3257) pastries are also available.

Hertz, a real estate developer for his own Westwood Hills Partners, and Phillips, the former chairman of Talenti gelato and former CEO of Phillips Distilling, also plan to offer beer and wine when their license is finalized in about two months. Around the same New Year’s time frame, the duo plans to open their second location, at 3509 W. 44th St. in Linden Hills, in an auto garage that Hertz renovated, which also serves as his office.

“People kept walking in and asking why there wasn’t a coffee shop there,” Hertz said. “After a few dozen times, I thought, ‘Shame on me.’ I could have sold all these people lattes!”

That was the original project, and when Hertz looped in Phillips as a partner, lofty dreams quickly ensued. The two are already shopping for a third location in Excelsior and Wayzata. In addition, they’re hoping to find their own baking space.

At the MSP airport

Also newly opened are a pair of awaited airport eateries. LoLo American Kitchen, a Stillwater restaurant and craft bar, opened an outlet at Minneapolis-St. Paul International this week, closely following the recent unveiling of the new Angel Food, the downtown Minneapolis bakery and coffee bar that has gained a loyal following. Both landed in MSP’s emerging Concourse E. And the pair, which came on the heels of burger-and-beer purveyor Republic opening its traveling destination in Concourse D, are just the beginning. The next few months are expected to see a flurry of airport openings including versions of local eateries Black Sheep Coal-Fired Pizza, Holy Land Deli, Lake Wine and Cheese, Red Cow, Salty Tart and Smack Shack.

On the way

The latest installment in downtown Minneapolis’ developing eastern end will open on Friday with McKinney Roe (530 S. 4th St., Mpls., set to show off its sophisticated space in one of the new Wells Fargo towers. The two-level, spiral-staircased restaurant overlooking the Commons park will feature small dishes such as seafood ceviche and croquettes, as well as heartier fare.

One day later in St. Louis Park, Robert Thompson will debut his eighth national Punch Bowl Social (1691 Park Pl. Blvd., Mpls.,, a 24,000-square foot space that will combine “old school” games — aka bowling, ping pong, shuffle board, darts and 1980s arcades — with a scratch kitchen and a craft bar emphasizing local beers and spirits.

“We like to think we’re the most differentiated and unique concept in the country,” Thompson said. “No one else is doing this.”

A pair of bar-restaurant concepts are also expected to open this winter, starting with Brunson’s (956 Payne Av., St. Paul,, an eclectic gastropub expected to open in the former Schwietz Saloon location in mid-December.

Owner Tom LaFleche, who last worked as a manager at Saint Dinette (261 E. 5th St., St. Paul,, 651-800-1415) said the eatery will focus on sandwiches — a hot dago, a bánh mí, a torta, an American club — inspired by the Payne-Phalen neighborhood’s diverse history.

“The neighborhood has been a place where people have first come and settled,” LaFleche said. “I think in the early 1800s it was Swedish and Italian and Irish. And present day, it’s Hmong, and there’s a big Mexican population. So our sandwiches are really going to be all across the board.”

Ling & Louie’s (951 Nicollet Mall, Mpls.,, 612-351-1234) Asian-inspired restaurant will close in December, giving way to a new, sports-themed space in February after renovations. Owner Michael McDermott, who operated the restaurant under a licensing agreement with the national chain, said he’s transitioning to Randle’s — named after former Viking John Randle — in order to better make use of a large space with a sprawling roof deck. McDermott, who opened Lou Nanne’s (7651 France Av. S.,, 952-658-7800) in Edina earlier this year, said Randle’s will add about 24 TVs and offer burgers, sandwiches and steaks, among other things.

“I hate to use the term sports bar, but we’re definitely a restaurant-bar and we’ll have a sports theme to it,” McDermott said. “But it will have a little bit more of an upscale feel to it in an upscale space.”