Nov 22, 2022 - Business

Uptown closures mark the end of an era

The intersection of Hennepin Ave and Lake Street.

The intersection of Hennepin Ave and Lake Street in 2005. Photo: Bruce Bisping/Star Tribune via Getty Images

The closures of Williams Uptown Pub & Peanut Bar and Amore Uptown last week, and the upcoming final day of Stella's Fish Cafe mark the end of an era for a generation of Twin Cities diners.

Catch up quick: Over the past three years Uptown has also lost Chino Latino and Uptown Theater, as well as Apple, Kitchen Window, Urban Outfitters, CB2 and H&M.

What they're saying: "We can all imagine that it has something to do with the business [and] safety climate,” says David Frank, executive director of the Uptown Association. “It's about to be winter, so people are maybe going out to restaurants less.”

State of play: Several Uptown businesses closed during the pandemic's early days as restrictions and health concerns kept people home.

  • But crime has also spiked in the neighborhoods around Uptown over the past three years. Assault in the Lowry Hill East neighborhood is up 33% in 2022 compared to 2019, and up 62% in South Uptown, according to city data.

What’s next: Frank said the Uptown Association is pursuing a "safety zone" space in a commercial building that will monitor security cameras to direct law enforcement and serve as an outpost for officers.

Flashback: In September, the city of Minneapolis, announced a new "Operation Endeavor" to fight crime, saying it would use data to focus on places where police are needed most.

  • "We are doing our best to schedule an appointment with the new [police] chief and the new [public safety] commissioner to say it seems like we're a place that could use some additional resources, also," Frank says.

The intrigue: Anytime a business closes near Hennepin Avenue and Lake Street, social media will buzz about how Uptown is dead.

That phrase means different things to different people.

  • A previous generation said Uptown died when the beloved Uptown Bar closed in 2009 and was replaced by an Apple store, symbolic of a culture shift in the area.
  • Some saw its death 10 to 15 years ago when a construction boom littered the skyline with upscale apartments.
  • Others point to the loss of restaurants like Figlio in 2009, and Lucia's in 2017.

Yes, but: Uptown has always gone through changes, and even today there’s some good news mixed in with all the vacant storefronts.

  • Uptown Theater is being converted to a concert venue.
  • Seven Points Uptown is now home to Arts & Rec, a mini golf course, bar, theater and restaurant. The developers eventually plan to build apartments to the south.
  • James Beard winner Ann Kim opened Sooki & Mimi last year.
  • Restaurateur Kim Bartmann has taken over Amore and will open a new Italian restaurant.
  • Plus, popular bookstore Magers & Quinn remains.

The bottom line: Uptown may not be dead, but it has lost its place as the dining and entertainment destination.

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