Some of the state’s best fried chicken is coming to St. Louis Park — the first suburban branch of Revival is going into the Texa-Tonka shopping center.
“We probably first toured the space over a year ago, and now we’re in such a different world,” said co-owner Thomas Boemer. “To be at the point where it’s actually happening is absolutely incredible.”
Revival opened in Minneapolis (4257 Nicollet Av. S.) in 2015. A St. Paul (525 Selby Av.) location followed two years later, and a sibling setup, Revival Smoked Meats, opened in the Keg and Case Market (928 W. 7th St., St. Paul) in 2019. Boemer and co-owner Nick Rancone also operate a popular fried chicken counter at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The Texa-Tonka location is projected to open in April, and Boemer is promising the same Southern-style menu (along with fried chicken there’s fried green tomatoes, brown sugar-cured ribs, shrimp and grits, collard greens, mac-and-cheese, hush puppies, diner-style burgers and chicken and waffles) and a full bar. The 100-seat restaurant will be roughly the same size as the Revival in St. Paul’s Cathedral Hill neighborhood.
One of the reasons that Boemer and Rancone were drawn to the St. Louis Park location is the shopping center’s ample parking lot.
“Takeout is our world right now,” said Boemer. “But even before COVID, takeout was growing, and it’s going to continue to grow when this is all over. Having a large parking lot is going help access takeout and delivery services.”
It might seem odd to think of a suburban strip mall as historic, but that label fits the Texa-Tonka. The 69-year-old center, located at the intersection of Texas Avenue and Minnetonka Boulevard, opened in three phases. The initial section debuted in 1951 — its two tenants were Penny’s Market and Mike Zoss Drug — the same year that the nearby Miracle Mile shopping center materialized.
The Texa-Tonka has been a food-and-drink destination for decades. According to the St. Louis Park Historical Society, the center’s tenant roster has included 11 pizzerias (American Pie, Big B’s, Cibo Pizza, Dick’s Pizza, Frankie’s Pizza, Gael’s Pizza, Hick’s Pizza, Ole Piper Inn, Little Italy, Pizza Papa and the Pizza Place), five bakeries (Freer’s Home Bakery, Hosar Bakery, Kosher Bakery, MacMillan Home Bakery and Northside Bakeries and Deli), four bagel shops (the Bagel, Bagelville, Big City Bagels & Deli and New York Bagel Bakery), three diners (Chef Cafe II, Kitty’s Kafe and Tonka Diner), an ice cream shop (Baskin-Robbins 31 Flavors) and a range of restaurants that included His Majesty’s Fish and Chips, Road Buddies BBQ, Panda Chinese Buffet, Mini Pot, Euro Gourmet Cafe & Deli, Ruchi Indian Kitchen and Bizarre Bazaar Coffee.
Best of India is a current tenant, and Revival is taking over the footprint that was last occupied by Thanh Do.
Current owner Paster Properties has completed a major renovation of the property. One of the biggest visual improvements involved removing a metal mansard-style roofline, which revealed the clean lines of the center’s original midcentury style. Additionally, an outdoor gathering area was created by removing a few storefronts in the central part of the shopping center. A major portion of that well-appointed space will serve as a patio for Revival.
The neighborhood received an under-the-radar preview last summer, when Boemer and his crew parked their portable barbecue trailer in the parking lot and helped developer Howard Paster celebrate his remake of the shopping center.
“We may have tipped our hand a bit, because people were pointing to the building and asking us, ‘Which spot is yours?’ ” said Boemer with a laugh. “This strip mall has a lot of personality, and a lot of history. That’s what we’re looking for, because we want to be in the heart of the community, and this fits the bill, perfectly.”