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Star Tribune Best of Minnesota 2013

June 04, 2013

The Star Tribune uses Best of MN to collect the finest restaurants, shopping, and music acts discovered (or reaffirmed, in the case of some stalwarts) by their reporters during the past year. A total of 30 Star Tribune staff writers contributed to their second annual Best of MN, creating, in their collective opinion, the richest, most authoritative Best of MN a reader can find.

See all their picks, and don’t miss the Lake Street specific highlights below.

1. Best Bike Shop: The Alt
The Alt, a fixture of the Uptown area for nearly 40 years, is almost as hip as all those newcomer bike shops around town. See The Alt’s deep selection of gorgeous Electra and Breezer cruisers. And the employees might look like your typical twenty-something bike punks, with their tattoos and their hipster sneakers. Except they’re super friendly, even when an aging know-nothing enters the store.

2. Best Cocktail Program: Eat Street Social
Eat Street Social proves it’s possible to be cocktail-committed without taking itself too seriously (they are building a tiki bar, after all).

3. Best New Uptown Apartment Development: Elan
Uptown is a renter’s paradise. Even though with nearly 600 units it falls into the mega category, the Strib likes Elan Uptown because of its location directly adjacent to the Midtown Green­way.

4. Best Lunch: Fika
Can’t make it to Stockholm this year? Then why not spend a few noon hours at Fika, the casual, just-about-perfect-in-every-way cafe inside the equally remarkable Nelson Cultural Center at the American Swedish Institute.

5. Best New Music Venue: Icehouse
Ingredients like its wraparound balcony seating, frequent jazz bookings, and hip food and cocktail menu helped make the Icehouse an immediate hit in its first year last year.

6. Best Place to Get Out of Your Decorating Comfort Zone: Jonathan Adler
Jonathan Adler’s color-crazy modern merch should cure the neutral blahs. Room vignettes show ways to energize your interiors with vibrant Skittles-hued furnishings, lamps, bedding, rugs and scores of accessories.

7. Best Reason to Put Up with Uptown Traffic and Parking Hassles: Lucia’s
If the Uptown Theatre is the heart of the busy commercial neighborhood gathered around Hennepin and Lake, then Lucia’s is its soul.

8. Best Nod to Dairyland: Local Milk Flight at Parka
Nothing exemplifies Midwestern wholesomeness more succinctly—and really, more hilariously—than the milk flight at Parka.

9. Best Tacos: Sonora Grill
Sonora Grill’s scratch kitchen leaves nothing to others, starting with perfect tortillas and filling them with eye-rollingly tender braised pork, brazenly spicy red tempura shrimp, gently fried tilapia and slow-roasted, mouth-melting beef tongue.

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City Pages Best of the Twin Cities 2013

April 17, 2013

City Pages’ yearly name-naming of the best personalities, businesses, food, and everything else Twin Cities has arrived and, as always, South Minneapolis and the Lake Street corridor make a strong showing. We’ve gathered them all here both for your easy reference and for communal back-patting. We done good, Lake Street.

Congratulations to all the winners! See the full list here.

01. Best Ensemble: The Birthday Party at Jungle Theater
“Pinter’s play came to life in a way rarely seen on area stages, and much of that was due to the talents and efforts of the six actors.”

02. Best Craftspeople: Wood from the Hood
“Whether you have a giant oak or ash that needs to come down and you don’t want it to go to waste, or you simply want to install new cabinets or flooring in your home using locally sourced, recycled wood, look no further than the Longfellow ‘hood.”

01. Best Burrito: Bangkok Burrito at World Street Kitchen
“An unlikely and utterly glorious mashup of world cuisines that will fire the neurons of every pleasure center in your brain—it will forever change your idea of what a burrito can be.”

02. Best Chef: Sameh Wadi, Saffron and World Street Kitchen
“Whether his food is served in a grandly glazed tagine or a recyclable paper tray, Wadi is particularly focused on achieving textural balance, making every bite of his food a layered experience that you won’t soon forget.”

03. Best Cheese Shop: Lake Wine and Spirits
“With an unpretentious, corner market vibe, Lake makes it easy to feel comfortable asking questions as you browse the small but diverse selection of all the accoutrements you need to make an impressive cheese and charcuterie spread.”

04. Best Coffee Shop: Peace Coffee Shop
“The brightly colored walls, the wide-open feel from the large picture windows, and the hip-but-not-annoyingly-hip jams pumping over the stereo are just the thing to make you want to curl up for a few hours with a good book, or a hot date.”

05. Best Cocktails: Icehouse
“Novelty drinks can be extremely hard to pull off, but that’s not the case at Icehouse.”

06. Best Doughnuts: Glam Doll Donuts
It’s all so fun and delicious that Glam Doll is more than a doughnut shop, it’s a major mood adjuster.

07. Best Fish Fry: Church of St. Albert the Great
“The fish fry has become famous in its own right, and with good reason. The food is both excellent and plentiful, and the church offers a lively, family-friendly atmosphere.”

08. Best Late-Night Dining: Nightingale
“Enjoy a smattering of small plates featuring everything from steak tartare with sunchokes to a mass of mussels cooked in Boom Island Ale to seared scallops with tart grapes, plus a rotating selection of sweets. Best of all, it’s not a limited late-night menu.”

09. Best Lunch: The Left-Handed Cook
“With so many options at the Midtown Global Market, it can be hard to narrow down where to go for lunch, but luckily a new stall has arrived on the scene and effectively made that decision a no-brainer. Now you can just walk in and make a beeline for the Left-Handed Cook.”

10. Best Margarita: Pancho Villa Restaurant
“Pancho Villa offers a deep list of drinks with expert subtle alterations to the basic ingredients. “

11. Best Neighborhood Bar (Minneapolis): Pizza Lucé, Lyn-Lake
“Ideally, a neighborhood bar is a place where you can relax and not do much while drinking with friends. Pizza Lucé delivers.”

12. Best Neighborhood Cafe (Minneapolis): The Gray House
“The Gray House is always changing, and yet from your little corner table it feels very much like it’s your own place — a well-guarded secret, far from the ballyhoo just outside its Lake Street entrance.”

13. Best Restaurant to Eat with Kids: Parka
“At Parka, kids’ meals include a choice of vegetable and a trip to the cookie jar. Grownups get Midwestern fare completely re-imagined, Dogwood coffee, and a trip to the cookie jar.”

14. Best Sandwich: Manny’s Tortas
“There are plenty of Sammy-come-latelys, but Manny’s classics remain on top for a reason.”

15. Best Tamales: La Loma Tamales
“Made from stoneground corn and steamed in a corn husk, tamales sometimes get a bad rap as dry or mealy. Not at La Loma, which has been serving these moist and hearty treats since 1999, making them from scratch each morning and often selling out of product before closing time.”

16. Best Vegetarian-Friendly Restaurant: Birdhouse
“Birdhouse’s greatest strength is that it isn’t exclusively catering to diners with dietary restrictions; rather, its aim is to serve everyone (kids included) tasty, whole, and healthful options at any given time of day.”

17. Best Wings: Icehouse
“The first bite catches you off guard: Whoa, these are not your average chicken wings. We’ve become accustomed to the above-average bar snacks at Icehouse, but the wings are on another level.”

01. Best Neighborhood: Longfellow
“Longfellow is a neighborhood that’s been coming up in the world these past few years, all the while holding tight to its working-class sensibilities.”

02. Best Cemetery: Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery
“At the time it was established, this plot of land was situated outside the city’s boundaries, and folks would take day trips to laze with family members dead and alive in the prairie landscape. It’s wonderful that community members can gather here in the boneyard still today, though now it sits amid the urban bustle.”

03. Best First-Date Spot: A midnight movie at the Uptown Theatre
“Maybe two folks meet for a beer, and then the beer turns into snacks, and then they’re having enough fun hanging out that they need a next destination. There’s no better bet for extending a date than a midnight movie at the Uptown Theatre.”

04. Best Lake: Powderhorn Lake
“The community around Powderhorn Lake prizes it as a valuable resource: It’s the centerpiece of the surrounding park’s many well-loved events, and in winter passersby can pick up rental ice skates for free. But for decades the 24-foot-deep, 12-acre lake hasn’t been pretty. That’s changing.”

05. Best People-Watching: The Chain of Lakes
“During the summer, you can spot sailors, kayakers, lovebirds out for a stroll. Just keep this in mind as you sit on a bench taking it all in: If you can’t spot the weirdo in the crowd, it’s you.”

06. Best Street: Nicollet Avenue
“Like Lake Street, the major thoroughfare it bisects in south Minneapolis, Nicollet runs a long course through the metro area, traveling far into the southern suburbs as well as north into downtown and the Mary Tyler Moore-loving mall.”

01. Best Art Supplies: Art Materials
“Walk into Art Materials and you’ll sense a creative energy that hangs in the air. Maybe it’s the 12,000 square feet of supplies, or maybe it’s the staff who will go out of their way to make sure you’ve got just the right tool for your project.”

02. Best Holiday Shopping: No Coast Craft-o-Rama
“Whether you’re looking for holiday greeting cards, a cigar-box banjo, adorable baby onesies, or just a bar of soap, you can not only find a one-of-a-kind gift but know that you’ve supported local artists and artisans in your holiday shopping.”

03. Best Home Decor: Forage Modern Workshop
“With a mix of new and used local pieces, all impeccably curated and tagged with a lovingly handwritten note, plus a stop to grab coffee and a pastry, Forage oozes personality and warmth.”

04. Best Record Store for Vinyl: Treehouse Records
“It’s not a large space, but it houses a perfect mix of new and used music, from indie to folk to jazz, LPs and 45s, with a knowledgeable staff (often local musicians) to help you out.”

05. Best Tattoo Parlor: Leviticus Tattoo
“Getting a tattoo can be a big step for some people, while others just collect them all over. Either way, the quality of artwork is fundamental, and Leviticus has that in spades.”

01. Best Bike Trail: West River Parkway
“The most enjoyable bike ride in the Twin Cities begins and ends with spectacular waterfalls. “

02. Best Bowling Alley: Memory Lanes
“Amateur bowling is a pastime best enjoyed on the cheap. For an affordable fix, check out the rates at Memory Lanes, where games are offered for mere dollars per person, plus college ID discounts (hook ‘em while they’re young) and all-you-can-bowl weekend specials.”

03. Best Gym: YWCA of Minneapolis
“With three spacious fitness centers chock full of equipment, access to swimming pools, the largest walking and running track in town, and an almost overwhelming roster of class options, the YWCA gives you plenty of bang for your buck.”

04. Best Outdoors Store: Vertical Endeavors
“With 28,000 square feet of climbing surface, Vertical Endeavors Minneapolis boasts one of the biggest and tallest indoor walls in the country. Along with all that square footage comes some perks, including a pro shop.”

05. Best Race: City of Lakes Loppet Ski Festival
“Grab a beer and a seat with a view, lazy people-watchers, and look on as Uptown for one weekend turns into a slightly less chichi Aspen.”

06. Best Sledding: Powderhorn Park
“Powderhorn Park was scooped out like a bowl at the start of the 20th century, which means that today its steep sides are ideal territory for log-rolling, hill-sprinting, and above all, sledding.”

01. Best Haircut: Juut SalonSpa
02.Best Tattoo Parlor: Saint Sabrina’s
03. Best Bowling Alley: Bryant-Lake Bowl
04. Best Art Gallery: Soo Visual Arts Center
05. Best Barbecue: Famous Dave’s
06. Best Burger: Blue Door Pub
07. Best Cheap Eats: Midtown Global Market
08. Best Cocktails: Eat Street Social
09. Best Late-Night Dining: Pizza Lucé
10. Best Pizza: Pizza Lucé
11. Best Sushi: Fuji Ya
12. Best Takeout: Pizza Lucé
13. Best Vegetarian-Friendly Restaurant: French Meadow
14. Best Wine Bar: Lucia’s

photo credits: birthday party / wood from the hood / birdhouse / sameh wadi / peace coffee shop / parka / uptown theatre / icehouse on nicollet / powderhorn lake / no coast craft-o-rama / forage modern workshop / treehouse records / leviticus tattoo / memory lanes / ywca minneapolis / vertical endeavors / city of lakes loppet / midtown global market / pizza luce

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Restaurant Week Spring 2013

February 19, 2013

Ready to get your om nom on? Restaurant Week is coming: February 24–March 1. Celebrate the best of Twin Cities dining with a week’s worth of great deals at the best local restaurants, which will serve two course lunches for $10–$20 and three-course dinners for $15–$30 (beverage, tax, and gratuity not included).

Here’s a roundup of Lake Street corridor participants:

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Lake Street 2012 Holiday Gift Guide

November 22, 2012

It’s shop-til-you’re-broke season once again. Lake Street has a plethora of options that will suit everyone on your list—far too many to put on one gift guide, in fact. We took a stab at rounding up some of the coolest items from the coolest stores anyway, most of which come from one-of-a-kind, locally-owned shops.

Don’t forget to leave room in your Black Friday budget to support these businesses on Small Business Saturday this Saturday, November 24.

firsttech: ipad case / atmosfere: men’s clothing / peace coffee: buono kettle / twin town guitars: mahalo ukulele / smitten kitten: ufo vibrator / hymie’s vintage records: the beach boys / roberts shoes: women’s saddle shoes / moss envy: artisan honey / magers & quinn: rare books / regla de oro: chopstick bowl / zrs fossils & gifts: polished malachite / freewheel: bell faction / ingebretsen’s: toftey rosmaling canisters / hart & soul herbal: gift basket / roam: scarves / simba craftware: handcrafted african wood mask / soovac: painting by jennifer davis / motto boutique: antler hangers / fluevog: women’s jaffa boots / wood from the hood: cribbage board / forage modern workshop: going hunting pillow / spunk dm: make love in mpls / urban bean coffee: t-shirt / eye of horus: gummy bear tarot / bobby bead: bone & wood skulls / citykid java: hot cocoa / knox jewelers: mokume gane winter band

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Why you, yes you, should come to our annual fundraiser

October 19, 2012

Let us take a moment to explain why you should come to Lake Street Council’s annual wine and beer tasting and silent auction on November 8 from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. at El Nuevo Rodeo. Ready? Okay.

1. Wine, beer, soda, coffee, Mexican food. Your ticket gets you access to 24 wines from all over the world courtesy of East Lake Liquor Store, Harriet Brewing growlers galore, JOIA Sodas, Peace Coffee roasts, and El Nuevo Rodeo eats that will build lean muscle, fight illness, and give your skin a healthy glow. Okay, maybe not that—but this mix of local and global is a perfect representation of the diversity and “mom and pop” cultures of so many Lake Street businesses, and your tummy will thank you for the gastronomical tour of everything our fundraiser has to offer. (Provided that you tour with moderation, of course.)

2. One-stop shopping. Hundreds of local businesses donate to our silent auction, resulting in a room full of goodies for you plus gifts for your loved ones. In past years we’ve had everything from gift cards to specialty bikes; T-shirts to TVs. Bidding on silent auction items means you can treat yourself and cross everyone off your holiday shopping list—we’ve got both your grandmother and your hipster nephew covered. (Just before the event, we release a full list of auction items, but to get a preview of the goods as they come in, check us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram.)

3. Hanging out with your community. This fundraiser draws Lake Street lovers from everywhere, and the bulk of the crowd calls Lake Street home in one way or another—they live here, they own businesses here, they work here. Gathering all these people in one room is a once-a-year thing, but the resulting good vibes should last you until next November.

4. Supporting Lake Street Council. The best part of all this wining and dining and shopping and networking is that it’s all for a good cause! Lake Street Council works hard every day to engage, serve, and advocate for the businesses along our six-mile corridor, from France Avenue to the Mississippi River. But we can’t renew and strengthen these communities without your help. This is our only fundraiser of the year, and it’s your chance to show Lake Street Council that you dig what we do and want us to succeed.

Do any or all of the above sound fantastic to you? Great! Here are the details at a glance:

When: November 8, 5:30–8:00 p.m.
Where: El Nuevo Rodeo
Tickets: $30, available on Eventbrite
For more information or to donate silent auction items: Get in touch with ZoeAna at 612-822-1912 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

photo credit 1 » photo credit 2

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Charlie Awards 2012

October 16, 2012

It’s time to vote for your favorite restaurants in the Charlie Awards! The Lake Street corridor is all over the South Minneapolis list. Cast your vote carefully—you only get one per Twin Cities region.









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Restaurant Week Fall 2012

October 15, 2012

Restaurant Week is back, October 21–26! Prepare to enjoy a week’s worth of fabulous food at unbeatable prices from some of the best restaurants in the Twin Cities. Participating restaurants will present specially priced meals (lunch, dinner, or both) that showcase their culinary offerings in the local dining scenes. Book a table now!

Here’s what the Lake Street corridor has to offer:

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Vita.mn’s Restaurant Guide 2012

October 04, 2012

Last week, Vita.mn released their annual restaurant guide, naming their favorite Twin Cities restaurants. Here, for your browsing convenience, are the tiptop picks on the Lake Street corridor. (Don’t forget to check out the full list for the rest!)

“At Birdhouse, Stewart and Heidi Woodman, the couple behind the nearby Heidi’s, serve healthful, sustainable grub all day long in a bright and modestly appointed Hennepin Avenue duplex. Birdhouse offers thoughtful cooking that celebrates the natural beauty of its components. Vegetarian options in particular showcase the splendid results that can be achieved through skillful technique and deep respect for one’s ingredients. Sweet pea pâté is verdant and smooth, with tangy goat cheese and mint accents, a snowy crème fraiche cap and pink sea salt sprinkle served with crisp sunflower rye toasts. Soups, salads and desserts all sing with a balanced suite of discernible flavors.”
—Kat Kluegel (photo credit)

Social House is the perfect place to bring your stiletto-heeled date after watching a foreign film and nearly making out in one of the balcony loveseats at the newly renovated Uptown Theatre. This sleek mixology bar and Asian fusion lounge provide all the necessary elements to seal the deal: fruity and potent cocktails, gorgeous tricked-out maki rolls and sexy, red-lit ambience. Small plates like the Bacon Cheeseburger Egg Rolls, made with flavorful Kobe beef, bacon and cheddar and a mango habanero ketchup, are oddly, gluttonously good.”
—K.K. (photo credit)

“If you happen to be sipping a delicious elixir at Eat Street Social, you might have occasion to bump into co-owner Sam Bonin, and he’s likely to be in some stylish attire such as white slacks with matching shoes, looking for all the world like he just stepped off of a yacht. The civilized life: spot-on mixology, beautiful people, a leisurely chat while simultaneously checking out the hottie on the other side of the bar. These are the tenets of “the Social,” where solid bistro fare seals it all together in one elegant parcel.”
—Mecca Bos (photo credit)

“Located inside a real 19th-century ice company, Icehouse has been rocking out Eat Street since June with cool local music, crazy/genius cocktails and chef Matthew Bickford’s cozy-chic nosh. There is even a sweet, small rear patio overlooking a surreal Stonehenge-esque park. But as the air turns brisk and then icy, you will probably want to warm up inside with some boldly spiced, dry-rubbed buffalo wings and zany-good $5 sipping shots, like the carbonated version of a bourbon Manhattan called the ‘Playing Make Up, Wearing Guitar.’ Finish with one of the unusual creamy sundaes featuring expertly paired flavor combinations, like bourbon-caramel-mint. That will warm your spirits, even from within this house of ice.”
—K.K. (photo credit)

“With cooler weather settling in, hearty grub is back in season, and Black Forest Inn is a favorite for belly-dwelling fare. Stretch your stomach at the South Side’s go-to German joint with sauerbraten or schnitzel varieties, or stop by the regular-lined Old World bar for a liter (pints are for sissies) during Oktoberfest. For smaller, suds-soaking bites, try a potato pancake or the ham and sauerkraut balls, deep-fried meat wads so savory the thick but sweet Bavarian mustard they come with seems superfluous.”
(photo credit)

“After a lengthy renovation period, the legendary late-night hotspot Little Tijuana Cafe is back. The good news? Little T’s now boasts a full bar, offering boozy bliss with its Tex-Mex grub. The bad? A (gasp) 2 a.m. closing time! Still, satisfying snacks like the deep-fried, cream cheese-stuffed jalapenos longed for adult-beverage accompaniment.”
(photo credit)

“Nordic figure carving, textile design and Swedish basket weavings are lovely, yes, but not on an empty stomach. When Michael Fitzgerald decided to take the reins of the newly designed cafe Fika at the equally spanking new remodel of the American Swedish Institute, he was set on striking that sweet spot that honors tradition and surprises without getting weird and flouting said tradition. You’ll find a rotating roster of open-faced sandwiches on sturdy house-made rye, scratch soups and seasonal salads, each made with the minimalist attention to detail that marks all things Scandinavian.”
—M.B. (photo credit)

“Left-handedness is oft-maligned because it is unusual—but The Left Handed Cook openly celebrates its own subversive spirit. Its aesthetic is L.A. low-rider punk, and its seasonally driven, Asian-influenced casual comfort food reflects its stylistic hybridity. The killer 21 Spice Fried Chicken is available in chicken strip form or as part of a sweet and spicy gonchu-sauced bibimbap rice bowl, along with a supple poached egg, pickled vegetables and a tasty kim chi. The Chop Sammie is the perfect portable luxury: diced soft-shell crab, avocado, thinly sliced onion and Thai mayo are melded into a glazed brioche pillow from the neighboring Salty Tart.”
—K.K. (photo credit)

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Get to know Wood from the Hood

August 24, 2012

There’s something tragic about tree removal. Knowing that yes, this tree was dying or yes, that tree was tipping toward the house doesn’t always assuage the pang of guilt that comes with cutting it down. Trees have history, and their spot on a given landscape is often tied to fond memories.

Removing a tree in the Twin Cities doesn’t mean its beauty and usefulness has come to an end, however. And that’s thanks to Longfellow-based Wood from the Hood.

Wood from the Hood reclaims trees in Minnesota, primarily in the Twin Cities, by working with local tree services, residential owners, and the City of Minneapolis. The reclaimed trees are processed and can be turned into anything imaginable—flooring, dining room tables, benches, cribbage boards, ornaments, dominoes, and so much more.

Wood from the Hood’s custom work can be found all over the Cities in places such as Hamline University, Seward Co-op, Macalester College, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, Kopplin’s Coffee, and in dozens of homes. If you’re not in the market for an awesome original tree swing (and you really should be), Wood from the Hood’s retail offerings run the gamut from cutting boards to picture frames to bottle openers, all of which—with an exception of products made from endcuts—are marked with the ZIP code of area the tree was reclaimed from.

Wood from the Hood is owned and operated by Cindy and Rick Siewert. Cindy, a voracious recycler, had a plan for a tree they had to remove upon moving into a new house. She explains, “We had to cut an ash tree down. It was growing into the foundation.” Thanks to Rick’s existing cabinet business, Siewert Cabinet, they had access to the right equipment and right contractors to make sure the tree didn’t go to waste. “We thought ‘oh, let’s put it in as flooring; ash is beautiful!’”

The inkling that maybe they weren’t alone, that maybe other people would want to reclaim trees or build with truly sustainable wood, led to the formation of Wood from the Hood.

Cindy says, “People are attached to their trees and they want to reclaim them. Our trees are grown for beauty and people can enjoy them for hundreds of years, but then something happens to them and for some reason they need to come down. Since these trees were grown for beauty, they look a lot different, and they have a lot of character—knots and cracks and cool, funky stuff. You can’t just go buy ash at a commercial place and have it look the same.”

The knots and gnarls the develop over decades of shading a yard, a park, or a boulevard shapes Wood from the Hood’s aesthetic, and luckily their customers dig the Siewerts’ penchant for natural shapes, both in custom furniture and in retail items.

So, how does it all work? Cindy explains: “When we get the tree, we cut it and dry it, and once it’s turned into lumber, customers can pick up the process from many places. They can buy just lumber, they can buy rough sawn lumber, we can surface and mill it for them, or we can turn it into something. Flooring, dining room tables, benches.”

Most of their business comes from where all their trees come from: Minnesota. Sometimes, it’s a design firm that has a client who wants to build something unusual, and they already have a sketch of what they need. Sometimes, it’s individuals who bring in an example from a magazine. It’s not necessarily their own tree they want to use, but they still want something local. From there, the design process is fully collaborative, using wood reclaimed from the individual or from elsewhere, adding in metal and glass to the concept when needed.

On the retail end of things, Cindy says Wood from the Hood’s bestsellers are, by far, their growth charts (which come in finished and unfinished varieties). “People are attached to the growth charts! The reason people like it, I think, is because one it’s removable and you can take it with you, and you can hang it in a room without giving it a child-like theme.” And they’re not just for kids. “We measure adults in our house on it—it’s friendly competition. And our three kids each wanted their own, so we had to put three different ones up. They get marked on them once a year.”

A fairly new product that’s catching on is a bottle opener called the Top Popper. Rick was the one who came up with the design—it’s a bottle opener with a rare-earth magnet in it, so it catches the bottle cap instead of sending it flying. And, an added bonus: the Top Popper can stick to your fridge.

Coming soon are Minnesota ornaments, the first batch of which will be made from an ash tree reclaimed from the Minnesota state capitol grounds. “We’re hoping to pull that off by Christmas,” Cindy says, looking at the ornaments. “I was thinking of etching in some rivers and lakes, but I think I might just leave it plain.”

So what’s next for Wood from the Hood? They’re starting locally, and trying to expand more into St. Paul by getting more tree companies and city governments on board with working with them. From there, Cindy has a vision. “I see the ‘green movement’ continuing to grow—co-ops are growing, people are making environmentally conscious decisions—and I see the whole industry changing along with it and building more environmentally-conscious products,” she says. “In ten years, I would love to see Wood from the Hood franchising to different cities. Wood from your hood in Seattle or in Washington D.C.,—the possibilities are endless.”

Show social media support: @woodfromthehood » Facebook

Where you can pick up Wood from the Hood in South Minneapolis:

See the rest of the Wood from the Hood tour by following @visitlakestreet on Instagram.

By Holly Harrison, Lake Street Council Communications and Accounts Manager

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Get to know CorAzoN

July 25, 2012

On 05-05-05, a one-of-a-kind gift shop took root in Minneapolis. That’s when Susan Zdon opened CorAzoN on Washington Avenue downtown. A year and a half later, the lights went on at the East Lake Street branch of CorAzoN. While the store has had three total locations, it’s the East Lake spot that stuck around, much to the delight of Longfellow shoppers.

So what sets CorAzoN apart? Hilary Brasel, who has been working with Susan from the beginning, sat down with me to discuss. “Susan wanted to work with local artists and have retail support around the artists from the start. She wanted to see a selection of locally inspired, locally made items available in a sort of very approachable art gallery, so nobody would feel like ‘I can’t afford art; I can’t go in there.’”

Susan’s background in clothing design and love for DIY along with Hilary’s teaching degree in art make them extra savvy curators, and, as Hilary points out, “Nine hundred square feet makes you choose your selection wisely.”

They work with artists and crafters of all ages and experience levels (including one little whiz who had canvasses for sale at age seven or eight), not only displaying their work, but also giving them guidance in creating and finding other places to sell their products.

“A lot of our artists are emerging artists, and they’re just trying to get an idea of what customers want and what sort of price range they can get for a product,” Hilary explains. “They’re sometimes just looking for feedback and trying to see where they can go with an idea. Once we see and touch a product, we might get into a conversation with them and say, ‘Have you ever thought of trying to do this?’ which will take the artist in a new direction. …It’s a huge blessing that people are willing to share their ideas with us.”

And for the artists who have blossomed with CorAzoN’s helped, I’m sure the feeling is mutual.

The sentiment of “art for all” pervades the store, and it’s impossible to take everything in at once. The items for sale run the gamut from twee to naughty (specifically, a small display showcasing products that favor four-letter-words), and there’s something at CorAzoN that would delight your son, your grandma, and your neighbor’s dog—possibly all at once. They carry books, jewelry, stationary, home décor, clothing, toys, world handicrafts, bath and body products, food and kitchen items, and so much more.

CorAzoN is especially well-known for their stationary—in fact, it’s what keeps their doors open. Hilary sums it up: “We love quirky, we love saucy, we love sassy, and we love really funny cards. We also look for really beautifully done stationary that’s letterpress printed or has beautiful paper to begin with that’s complemented by great artwork. They’re art cards; you can go home and frame them. Finally, we like cards that just have a sweet sentiment.”

And while the collection has changed a lot from the beginning, including an expansion of their children’s collection to accommodate the many families who call Longfellow home, there are some items that they’ve stocked forever, such as the chanchitos (Chilean good luck charms in the form of three-legged pigs).

“It’s not about the trend,” Hilary says of the selection. “It’s about functional, practical things that can serve a purpose in your home or your life. There’s also the entertainment factor…can it make you laugh? Does it help you not take yourself so seriously? Or is it so beautiful that it would make you happy to see it every day in your home?”

Add to that the fact that many of the items in the store come from local artists, and shopping at CorAzoN is a no-brainer. “I think to really know the people who make something instead of it being picked out of a catalog and shipped in a box means a lot to us and our customers,” says Hilary. “We carry a lot of items not because they make us tons of money at the register but because we believe enough in what the person is doing or what the product stands for.”

Anybody and everybody is welcome at CorAzoN (including dogs, who have the tendency to lead their owners in the door once they know there are free treats inside). Shoppers can and will find something, be it a great gift for under $5, an unbelievable piece of art for $200, or one of the innumerable items that fall in between.

Visit CorAzoN: 4646 East Lake Street
Give ‘em a shout: (612) 276-0198
Show social media support: @CorAzoNEastLake » Facebook

See the rest of the CorAzoN tour by following VisitLakeStreet on Instagram.

By Holly Harrison, Lake Street Council Communications and Accounts Manager

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