A Minneapolis building that served as rehearsal space for Prince, Bob Dylan and once acted as set for the television program "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is getting an entirely new creative life as a food hall.
Eat Street Crossing is taking shape inside the Old Arizona Studio (2821 Nicollet Av. S.) and will sport six food concepts from two well-known restaurant couples and one cohesive and inclusive bar program. The food will come from the creative minds behind Zen Box Izakaya, Lina Goh and John Ng, and Bebe Zito, Gabriella Grant and Ben Spangler. And if you've been following Bebe Zito's Instagram, there is a hint of at least one special food that will be served inside.
The revitalization of this historic building near the end of Eat Street has been in the works since before the pandemic. Ng, a chef and artist, was feeling restless, and Goh was also ready for a new challenge beyond their 10-year-old Izayaka.
"We were at a point where we don't know what else to do," said Goh. Ng was more blunt: "I get bored."
Known both locally and nationwide for his incredible ramen specials, Ng was looking for ways to stretch and grow his creativity. Goh, who grew up in Singapore, understands food halls and markets in a fundamental way.
"There are all these makers and hawkers selling all kinds of cuisine like Malaya or Indian food," she said. They were ready for a new challenge when everything was placed on indefinite hold and the couples' already forming plans had to be rethought.
"The pandemic changed our perspective," said Goh. "We have to be hopeful."
Hope might not be the first word that springs to mind for people outside the Whittier neighborhood. Eat Street Crossing is just a few steps from one of the city's most reviled buildings: the former Kmart on Lake Street. Just blocks away fires destroyed buildings amid the reckoning after George Floyd's murder.
However, to those who hop on the Midtown Greenway bike trail here, or walk to the many restaurants that gave this stretch of road its Eat Street name or lived in one of several nearby sober living facilities, it is a special part of town. And it's even more accessible with the dedicated Lake Street exit off I-35W.
"Eat Street draws creativity," said Grant, who first visited the area's restaurants as a suburban high school student who joined the aptly named Eat Club.
"We need to keep advocating for the area — just like Uptown," the neighborhood where Bebe Zito's original brick and mortar is located, Grand said. "People keep saying 'I'll never come to your Uptown location. It's too dangerous.' I understand why you feel that way, but I hope you do come someday. Uptown is special. It's worth advocating for. And so is Eat Street."
A key part of the building's new look is avoiding gentrification. "We're trying to find the soul of that building — and the community," said Goh.
Inside Crossings, the food will be complementary across all stands. So will the bar program, which is led by Trish Gavin, a well-known force in the local cocktail scene who was most recently beverage director for Ann Ahmed's restaurant group. In addition to alcoholic beverages, there will be a wide selection of nonalcoholic drinks and some low-sugar drinks to serve those with blood sugar concerns.
"The main focus of the bar is inclusion and intentionality," said Grant. The N/A drinks are an important piece of supporting the surrounding neighborhood, which is home to several sober living spaces.
More details about the food will be released soon, but Grant confirms that Bebe Zito ice cream will be produced on-site and the honey butter-dipped fried chicken will have a permanent home. There will be two stands from Goh and Ng and an outpost of the boba tea shop Chatime.
Barring any unforeseen supply chain hiccups, Eat Street Crossings should debut this summer.