Sep 21, 2021

Axios Twin Cities

Hello, everyone!

  • It's a good morning for a warm cup of coffee. It's 54 degrees as we write this; the forecast calls for a high of 66.

Situational awareness: COVID-19 hospitalizations in Minnesota have hit a new high for 2021, the Star Tribune reports.

Today's newsletter is 912 words, a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Twin Cities' media scene grows

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Southwest Minneapolis is getting a new hyper-local site.

Driving the news: Southwest Voices, an online news source meant to help fill the void created when the Southwest Journal newspaper folded at the end of 2020, plans to begin publishing stories later this month, Axios has learned.

The big picture: Nationally, local outlets are struggling to stay afloat. But the Twin Cities is proving an exception to the trend, supporting a robust — and growing — media ecosystem.

What to expect: Southwest Voices will focus on news, information and events for more than a dozen neighborhoods in its coverage zone. Users can sort and follow news by community.

  • Think local association and planning meeting agendas and recaps, business spotlights and profiles of residents.
  • It's free, but they plan to launch a membership option for those who wish to support the site. The business model will also rely on ads from local businesses and, eventually, events.

Behind the launch: The site is founded by Charlie Rybak, a political and digital media strategist, and Andrew Haeg, an American Public Media alum who founded GroundSource, a texting platform focused on newsrooms and nonprofits.

  • Of note: Rybak is the son of former Mayor R.T. Rybak.

What they're saying: The founders told Torey they want to create a community-led source for reliable news and information that promotes civic engagement — without the conflict and negativity that plagues some social media groups and platforms.

  • "A lot of people have a lot to say about Minneapolis. But it's really important for the people of Minneapolis to be able to tell their own story," Rybak said.

What's next: Southwest Voices is hiring an editor and a civic producer/ news organizer for the site.

Share this story.

2. Your daily lunch (or dinner) rec: Quang

Quang's pho ga, aka chicken pho. Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

Our Axios Des Moines colleague Linh Ta visited the Twin Cities last month and tried one of Eat Street's best: Quang Restaurant. Here's what she had to say:

"Quang is a must stop. It's top-notch Vietnamese cooking right here in the Midwest.

  • If you're craving a fried appetizer — banh tom ($9) should be on your list. Yams are fried alongside shrimp for a sweet and savory treat that's always hot. Plus: there's salty fish sauce to balance it all out.
  • Pho ga, aka chicken pho ($11), is the ultimate comfort food. The clear, meat-rich broth fills you up, while the Thai basil and onions freshen the dish. They don't skimp out on the chicken either."

🥣 Our take: Linh has great taste. We're big fans of Quang, too. And that bowl of pho looks perfect for this week's chilly temps.

3. The Spoon: Stories to start your day

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

💰 Applications are now open for a new state program offering grants of up to $25,000 to Minnesota businesses impacted by the pandemic. The deadline to apply is Sept. 29. (Fox9)

🍻 A brewery coming to St. Paul's Lowertown neighborhood will put its profits to good use: Paying for music lessons and instruments for kids whose families can't afford them. (Star Tribune)

🗳️ Roughly half of voters oppose COVID-19 vaccine requirements for eating in restaurants or returning to work, results of the new Minnesota Poll show. Support for mandates is slightly higher for large events, such as concerts. (MPR News)

🏠 Former Minnesota Wild players Zach Parise and Ryan Suter both put homes in Edina on the market. They're pricey! (Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal)

🙏 St. Louis Park High School's longtime nordic ski coach was hit and killed by a car while riding his bike. (Star Tribune)

4. Charted: A deadly year for driving without a seat belt
Data: Minnesota Department of Public Safety. Chart: Axios Visuals

State officials are urging Minnesotans to buckle up amid an especially deadly year on local roads.

Driving the news: 68 people killed in Minnesota traffic accidents this year — as of Sept. 8 — were not wearing seat belts, surpassing levels seen in recent years.

  • Yes, but: Car crash deaths are up overall, so the share of unbelted has dropped slightly, from 25% in the same period of 2020 to 21% so far in 2021.

One encouraging thing: Most of us do travel safely.

  • A 2019 observational study conducted by the state Office of Traffic Safety found that more than 93% of people in the front seat wear a seat belt. That includes both drivers and passengers.

Be smart: Deputies and troopers are upping seat belt patrols through Sept. 30 as part of a "Click It or Ticket" public awareness campaign.

  • The fine for driving without a seat belt is $140, including court fees.
5. 😎 1 fun thing to go: Your favorite celebrity sightings

Ludacris did indeed ride this Mall of America attraction like a roller coaster during a visit to the area. Photo courtesy of @EKDao/Instagram

Yesterday, Torey asked you to share your most memorable celebrity sightings here in Minnesota. You sent some great ones!

Here's a sampling:

  • Then-President Barack Obama at Matt's Bar.
  • A very cold British television host David Frost at the St. Paul Civic Center while in town for the winter carnival. (He asked for a "cuppa tea.")
  • Shaq at the Mall of America in the early 2000s. Another reader encountered Ludacris on a trip that included riding the roller coasters.
  • One lucky reader saw James Taylor shopping at the IDS Center Gap in the 1990s and, more recently, ran into Lyle Lovett at the airpot.
  • Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, who died last month, riding an escalator at Gaviidae Common in downtown Minneapolis. The spotter yelled "There goes a Rolling Stone!" Watts didn't respond.

ICYMI: Axios Local is growing! Our super talented colleagues launched newsletters in Chicago, Nashville, and Washington, D.C., on Monday. Even more local newsletters are coming soon.

  • 🤗 Click or share this link if you or someone you know is interested in signing up for one of our current or future cities!