Bridge brings back business

One aftershock of the Interstate 35W bridge collapse on Aug. 1, 2007, was the disaster's effect on nearby restaurants. "We were down 50 percent," said Dean Schlaak, co-owner of Wilde Roast Cafe (518 E. Hennepin Av., Minneapolis, "Business started slowly coming back around the first of the year, and by June we were getting close to our old numbers again."

Once the new bridge opened on Sept. 18, Schlaak said the uptick in customer traffic was immediate. "The last three or four weeks have been amazing," he said. "We also have the Obama campaign [office] next door, so that might be helping us, too."

Speaking of politics, the restaurant is offering its traditional Election Day bonus: Walk in wearing an "I Voted" sticker on Tuesday, and walk out with a free cookie ("no purchase necessary, but it's always appreciated," said Schlaak with a laugh). Perhaps this is an indicator of the record number of voters expected to turn out: The restaurant handed out about 350 in 2006, and Schlaak is anticipating baking up to 600 this time around.

Opening soon, hopefully

Kino Hamschari of Rotisseria is down, but he's not out. The casual Minneapolis restaurant, known for its standard-setting rotisserie chicken, lost its Uptown outpost earlier this year, and now the restaurant's second location, at Lake Street and Bloomington Avenue S., has closed. The good news is that Hamschari is scouting a new location somewhere in the 27th-and-Nicollet area or on Central Avenue NE. "Probably under a new name," he said. "Sometimes it's better to start fresh. Our loyal customers will find us. We cannot keep the people from this chicken."

Better than Halloween

On Friday and Saturday, Indio (1221 W. Lake St., Minneapolis, chef/co-owner Hector Ruiz will be observing Dia de Los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, with a four-course dinner ($35, or $48 with wine pairings). Diners can avail themselves of the services of a Tarot card reader on Friday evening, and there's live music on both nights. Call 612-821-9451 for reservations.