With hot dogs, cold beer and an emerald green field sparkling under the June sunshine, the only thing missing at CHS Field is the team.
As the St. Paul Saints plan to start their 2020 season in Sioux Falls, S.D., their Lowertown home has been left vacant. But the gates aren't staying locked. The stadium is now open for lunch.
The Pop-Up Cafe at CHS Field is serving stadium staples such as burgers and cheese curds, daily from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tables are set 6 feet apart on the Broadway Street concourse overlooking the field.
"It's summertime. It's outside. You should be at a ballpark," said Joni Larson, who lives in the neighborhood and snacked on free popcorn while waiting for a burger.
The pop-up comes as many venues look for new avenues to attract customers amid the pandemic.
"Obviously, with the season on hold due to the COVID crisis, we began to take a look at what summer might look like with no games," said Saints general manager Derek Sharrer. Patio dining was the first idea.
"It's great to see the gates open, to see people sitting at tables laughing and smiling, as if they're at a Saint's game," Sharrer said.
Changes at Lyn-Lake
After sitting dormant since last September, the restaurant that kick-started the urban renaissance at Lyndale Avenue and Lake Street in Minneapolis 38 years ago is back in business.
It's Greek To Me has quietly reopened its doors, with a slightly altered name — it's now It's Greek To Me Taverna E Parea (626 W. Lake St., itsgreektomempls.com).
It was a no-brainer that the ownership — which includes some of the original team — would retain the restaurant's well-known name.
"We wanted to pay homage to that name, because it's been there for so long, and it's such a pillar of the community," said Erik Johnson, a longtime It's Greek to Me employee who is now a co-owner.
The opening did not go as planned. It was originally scheduled for April, but the coronavirus pandemic intervened. With a limited staff, the kitchen started serving takeout in early May.
A planned June 1 opening of the restaurant's appealing off-the-sidewalk patio was sidelined after the protests that followed the death of George Floyd. The restaurant's windows were boarded up, and the kitchen turned to making gyro sandwiches to feed volunteers cleaning up the neighborhood.
Finally, the plywood came down, and the patio and dining room quietly reopened. "It's nice to get back to a sense of normalcy, whatever that is," Johnson said.
The restaurant is serving lunch and dinner, Tuesday through Sunday.
An anchor at the same intersection since 1999, the Herkimer Pub & Brewery is ending its run.
The neighborhood brewpub, home to shuffleboard and corn hole leagues, had its last day of service June 24.
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