Skip your shopping on Thanksgiving Day at the Mall of America …


…because all but 3 of the 520 stores there will be closed for the holiday (Macys, Sears and the Crayola Experience with their own entrances will stay open).  Other chains are also staying closed, including CostCo, Nordstrom, Fleet Farm and Menards.  Many other stores around the state will open, but not until later in the day; Walmart, Target, Kohls, Dicks’, Five Below and Michaels, for example will open at 6 pm on Thursday.    Grocery stores will be open, but most with limited hours, closing early in the afternoon.   This is starting to reverse the trend of the last few years where being open on Thanksgiving was more the norm.   But no worries, everyone will be open for Black Friday – let the shopping begin!



It’s 5:00 somewhere, right??


So time for a margarita – and the Mall of America now has the place to get it.   Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Restaurant opened today at MOA.  This 315 seat restaurant and bar in nearly 10,000 square feet will their first foray into Minnesota.  The restaurant includes the 5 o’clock Somewhere Bar and the Porch of Indecision dining room that opens into the mall, serving casual food and signature drinks.

David Crabtree, President/CEO for the parent company of International Meal Company U.S. says, “Margaritaville is all about treating yourself to great food and drinks while enjoying great music and escaping reality.”  Ok – we’re there!

Yup – another restaurant closes

don pablos logo

Don Pablo is the latest restaurant here in the Twin Cities to announce the closing of their Richfield location at the CSM – Shoppes at Lyndale.   This leaves the owners – Food Management Partners – with only the Eden Prairie location remaining here in Minnesota, and it’s fate is probably uncertain too.    At one point, the Don Pablo – Texas based chain had almost 100 locations, and now less than 20 remain.


More restaurants going dark

Lots of restaurants closing this summer here in the Twin Cities, and rumors are flying around about more coming:

  • Salt Celler closed in St. Paul on July 30.   Owners say they are going to renovate and reopen with a new concept under the same name.
  • Café Levain has closed in Minneapolis on Chicago Avenue.
  • Trattoria Tosca closed in Linden Hills.
  • The Pilgrimage Café closed on 38th Street in Minneapolis
  • Kaskaid Hospitality closed Zio Italian at MOA, converting it to a Cowboy Jacks in October with a partnership with The After Midnight Group.  They closed Salsa a la Salsa, and will convert it to Game Sports Bar.




Fresh Thyme doubles number of stores in Minnesota

With the opening last week of two more stores, Fresh Thyme has four locations and more coming.  The Savage store opened in 30,000 sf of the former Rainbow store, with the Vadnais Heights store of the same size going into the former Festival Foods store.  By all accounts, they opened with lots of buzz and great sales.  Their Bloomington store opened last year, and was the only site until Apple Valley opened this spring.   The next location to open is Plymouth at Highway 55 and Vicksburg in mid-September, along with St. Louis Park, Prospect Park, Waite Park and West St. Paul in the works.

They also added liquor to their offerings, with the Vadnais Heights stores having a liquor store.  Plymouth will also offer liquor, and more will be added to future locations if feasible.


Want a glass of wine with that meal?

Fresh Thyme

Fresh Thyme will open a liquor store in Vadnais Heights with their new store opening next week, featuring 450 wine varieties and local beer.   This will be their 3rd store in our market, along with the Savage opening next week for the 4th spot.   The Plymouth store will follow this fall, and a store in St. Louis Park also opening with a liquor store.   Average size for FT stores is 28,000 sf, without liquor.   They currently have stores open in Bloomington and Apple Valley. 


Eat Mor Chikin

Chick-fil-A introduced this ad campaign in chick-fil-a1995 featuring a herd of “renegade self-serving cows” promoting the idea we should be eating more chicken and less beef.

Chick-fil-A began its expansion into the Twin Cities market in 2013 with restaurants opening in Maple Grove, Coon Rapids, Bloomington, Apple Valley, and three outlet locations (Minneapolis St. Paul Airport, University of Minnesota, and Minnesota State University, Mankato). Additional restaurants were recently opened in Burnsville and Blaine. Chick-fil-A is in the planning stages for restaurants in Maplewood, West St. Paul, Eagan, Chanhassen, and Eden Prairie.

Chick-fil-A, Inc. is a family owned and privately held Restaurant Company founded in 1946 by S. Truett Cathy. Dedicated in serving the local communities in which its franchised restaurants operate, and known for its original chicken sandwich, Chick-fil-A serves freshly prepared food in more than 2,000 restaurants in 42 states and Washington, D.C.

Chick-fil-A opened its first restaurant in Greenbriar Mall in 1967 and continued expansion with stand-alone, mall and licensed locations throughout the country. The majority of the chain’s 2,000 restaurants are locally owned and operated by independent franchisees, ensuring oversight of day-to-day activities at the restaurant and employment and community involvement decisions.

Known for its freshly prepared food and award-winning customer service, Chick-fil-A’s menu options include its signature hand-breaded, boneless breast-of-chicken sandwich along with hand-chopped salads, fresh-squeezed lemonade and hand-spun milkshakes. Chick-fil-A Founder S. Truett Cathy first served his boneless breast-of-chicken sandwich, pressured cooked and served on a buttered bun with two crucial pickles, at his Dwarf Grill restaurant that opened in 1946 in Hapeville, Ga. The sandwich was the signature menu item when the first Chick-fil-A restaurant opened in 1967 and continues to be the most popular menu item today.

With a long-standing tradition in the restaurant industry for setting the highest standards in customer service, Chick-fil-A ranked first for customer satisfaction in the Limited Service Restaurants Industry by the American Customer Satisfaction Index for 2015. The company has also earned recognition as one of America’s “Most Inspiring Companies” by Forbes Magazine, one of America’s “Top 20 Most Admired Brands” by The Harris Poll and “Top Fast Food Chicken Chain” – for best chicken sandwich, customer service and cleanliness – by Consumer Reports, among other honors.

Zara opening at MOA


The Minneapolis StarTribune announced this morning that Zara is indeed opening a store at the Mall of America, joining Anthropologie as recent announcements for new retail coming to the megamall.  Zara is planning to open a 30,000 sf, 2-story store by the 2016 holiday season.   Both Zara and the 10,000 sf Antheopologie store will locate in the new north side of MOA.

Zara will include clothing and accessories for women, men and children.  They have more than 2,000 stores around the world, but only 20 stores in the United States.

Just Ice – Think Twice

Rita’s Italian Ice, the world’s largest ritaiceItalian Ice brand with more than 600 stores, will welcome its newest Rita’s Café location in Bloomington in April. The company announced the testing and introduction of a new Rita’s Cafe concept earlier this spring as an exciting evolution of the brands’ beloved frozen treat offerings, which will now include fresh donuts, coffee and specialty drinks in addition to its signature Italian Ice and famous Frozen Custard. Edina locals and Minnesota area developers Angela and Adam Ailloni are proudly bringing the new cafe concept to the area — one of just five Rita’s Cafe locations in the U.S.

“Both Adam and myself are from the East Coast and have been lifelong Rita’s fans,” said Angela Ailloni. “After opening our first location in Eagan in 2014, we have seen a tremendous amount of growth in the area and we’re thrilled to continue that trend with this new and exciting Cafe offering. We can’t wait to introduce our local Rita’s fans to our expanded menu featuring fresh donuts and coffee!”

In addition to Rita’s signature Italian Ice and Frozen Custard, the Rita’s Cafe of Bloomington will feature organic, single-origin Dunn Brothers Coffee under its “Proudly Pouring” program, and its menu will include unique donut creations such as Maple Walnut and Cotton Candy Confetti, as well as create-your-own options — customizing a freshly made Vanilla Cake Donut with a variety of icings and toppings of choice. Rita’s Cafe of Bloomington will also offer new items that combine fresh donuts into frozen treats such as a Donut Blendini, and specialty beverages combining Rita’s award-winning Frozen Custard with Dunn Brothers Coffee.  Rita’s Café will also offer a full line of hot and cold coffee and espresso drinks.  The location is also planned to be Kosher through MSP Kosher supervision.

“Rita’s Cafes are an exciting new way for us to serve our guests from morning until night by offering delicious products that naturally fit within our fan-favorite frozen treats,” said Eric Taylor, chief development officer at Rita’s Italian Ice. “Angela and Adam have already done a fantastic job developing the state of Minnesota and we’re thrilled that they have chosen to bring the new cafe concept for locals to love and enjoy.”

The new Rita’s Cafe is located at the corner of France Ave. and Old Shakopee Road in the new Park Place Plaza and will feature indoor and plaza outdoor seating.

Rita’s locations in Minnesota are in Eagan, Valleyfair, Stillwater, and Maple Grove.  Others are opening soon in Apple Valley and a second store in Eagan.

With more than 30 years in business, Rita’s Italian Ice has been aggressively expanding across the United States and internationally, with locations now open in Canada, the Philippines, Middle East and Caribbean.

New Bohemia adding more locations to the Twin Cities Market

Since its first location in Minneapolis in 2012, New Bohemia Wurst & Bier Haus wurstphothas been on a tear to take over the wurst and sausage restaurant niche here.   They have opened locations in the Uptown area of Minneapolis, Eagan and Mankato, and now have a deal signed for a location in Roseville at Snelling Avenue and County Road C.      And that isn’t enough for this interesting and innovative restaurant group – the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reports they are also looking for locations in the Southwest metro in Eden Prairie and Bloomington, the East metro in St Paul and Woodbury, and Northeast metro in Blaine and Lino Lakes, as well as outstate Rochester, then onto other states.  Brian Ingram, COO, was quoted in the Pioneer Press back in February, stating “We’d like to get 12 stores by the end of the year.  We’ve been looking at places like Eden Prairie and Woodbury.   We’ll probably open one in Wisconsin as well.”

These are guys who like to think outside of the box.  Inside their restaurants, customers sit at long communal tables.  The menu includes craft beer and traditional brats, but also smoked Antelope is on their menu, along with alligator, wild boar and yak – ACK!