Chino Latino, the global street-food restaurant near the corner of Lake and Hennepin for 20 years, closed Sunday.
“The decline was in place three to four years ago,” said Phil Roberts, co-founder of Parasole Restaurant Holdings in Edina, which owns and operates Manny’s Steakhouse, Pittsburgh Blue, Field Day, Good Earth and Burger Jones. “It began gradually and then COVID and the protests and rioting hit.”
Parasole believes the concept remains strong, and that it could be transported to another neighborhood. No specifics were given, but Roberts said, “It will live again.”
About 40 employees are affected by the closing. Some will be transferred to other Parasole restaurants.
Roberts got the idea for the restaurant when he and his wife traveled to Thailand in 1998 and observed vendors setting up shop on the street after sundown selling chicken feet, octopus, eel and cotton candy on little plates.
“It was a few bucks for a platter of fried octopus, and so we hit 10 to 12 stalls and that was our dinner,” he said. “At the time no one was serving octopus in Minneapolis for $4 to $5, so we had the bragging rights for anyone who wanted to say ‘I had octopus.’ ”
Classic drinks and dishes included banana boat chicken, mojitos, sake bombs and the pupu platter.
“It was Phil’s most brilliant idea,” said Donna Fahs, chief operating officer for Parasole. “Having street food from around the world felt like you were transported to Thailand, South America and New York City. It was a young, vibrant crowd and just so darn many food choices.”
Many in the young crowd were amused by the edgy, provocative billboards advertising the restaurant, but others were offended by messages such as “Hotter than a Bangkok Brothel” and “Wok the Dog.”
The company eventually softened the messages after numerous complaints.
Several other businesses have closed this year or last year in Uptown. Last week Apple announced that would not reopen its Hennepin Avenue store closed since the pandemic. Fig & Farro and Giordano’s restaurants also have closed, as well as Columbia Sportswear, North Face and Arc’teryx Canadian outerwear.
Parasole also closed the Burger Jones Uptown location in Calhoun Village in May. Libertine, near the former location of the much-loved Figlio in Calhoun Square — being renamed Seven Points — ended a short run last year.
More than 50 restaurants already have closed permanently around the Twin Cities.
Roberts unequivocally denied rumors that Manny’s Steakhouse also may be closing. “It’s simply not true,” he said.
But sales have stayed low, and restaurants are worried with the cold weather that takeout won’t sustain them, and people aren’t ready to eat inside.
More than half of Minnesota restaurants and food-service operators project they will be insolvent in the next four to six months, according to a survey last month compiled by the Federal Reserve Board of Minneapolis and Hospitality Minnesota.
Restaurant owners, including Roberts, are still hoping to hear of a second round of stimulus money.
“It is vital,” Roberts said. “Restaurants can’t make it on takeout, meal kits and delivery alone. They’re losing money every month and many will go broke without it.”