Lake Street’s immigrant and refugee-owned businesses are from everywhere, for everyone. From providing delicious food to culturally-competent social services, they are the backbone of one of our region’s busiest corridors. Read about some of the businesses here to learn their history, cultural traditions, and why they love Lake Street.
CIRCULO DE AMIGOS CHILD CARE CENTER
2830 Cedar Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55407
Círculo de Amigos Child Care Center offers high-quality, state-of-the-art child care in a home-like atmosphere where children experience rich and meaningful learning experiences through nature. Their Spanish immersion program helps children be successful in our multicultural world. Minorities and low-income families especially benefit from this program, as it provides first-class services at an affordable cost which are much needed in South Minneapolis.
Círculo de Amigos was founded by Maria Perez Gali, a social science teacher born and raised in Tampico, Mexico, who yearned for a learning curriculum rooted in respect, harmony, love, and understanding in our increasingly multicultural society.
“At Círculo de Amigos, we take an old-fashioned, value-based, and ethical approach to teach our children,” said Maria. “Children learn to not only be responsible with themselves but also for others, including the environment. We place emphasis on developing social consciousness and to helping children discover who they are as individuals, what abilities they possess, and what part they can play in this multifaceted world by drawing upon their individual traits and strengths.”
And for Maria, Lake Street provides the perfect backdrop for the nature-based and compassion-filled learning environment. “We have the great privilege to be in a location on Lake Street that faces the Greenway and enhances the philosophy of our center,” explained Maria. “The Greenway corridor gave us more amplitude for our outdoor classroom since we are side-by-side. Through this, we promote physical activity and take children on walks that lead us to culturally-rich places such as the Midtown Global Market—a place in which our students experience real-world cultural experiences that are tied to our community.”
PANGEA WORLD THEATER
711 W Lake St Ste 102, Minneapolis, MN, 55408
Pangea World Theater is a progressive space for transformation in which conversations about race, gender, ethnicity, human rights, politics and social justice form an important backbone for their work. They collaborate with award-winning international artists and companies to create plays and performances that speak across geography and culture.
Lake Street boasts an amazing diversity of culture, language, artists, entrepreneurs, and small businesses. And Pangea Theater—located on the corner of Lake and Lyndale—is a microcosm of the communities on Lake Street.
Owners Dipankar Mukherjee and Meena Natarajan—both from India—have been creating plays and local arts programs for nearly 20 years in their current location. This work has built partnerships with artists, organizations, businesses, and the city of Minneapolis to help foster collaborative spaces between our multiple communities contributing to the economic vitalization of Lake Street.
“We love the diverse rich polycultural street that we are part of. As we drive down Lake Street, we feel like we are part of creating a home here,” Meena said. The biggest challenge the theater faces is keeping pace with the growing demand for culturally-diverse art. “Our programs are so vibrant and well attended that we are bursting out of our current space on Lake Street and have been for the last five years,” Dipankar explained. “We are interested in pursuing our own space for performance and rehearsals.”
No matter what their future brings, Dipankar and Meena are committed to highlighting those voices who are not generally heard and creating a vision of togetherness when various forces in our surroundings divide us. “Our ultimate goal is to counter patterns of displacement and strengthen immigrant and indigenous communities,” Meena said.
KATAR RIVER RESTAURANT & BAKERY
2751 Minnehaha Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55406
Katar River Restaurant & Bakery is a traditional Ethiopian restaurant that provides a culinary immersion through vegetarian dishes, spices and lamb, and fresh injera bread. Katar Restaurant was the 2016 African Development Center Business of the Year Award recipient.
Katar River Restaurant & Bakery officially opened its doors on Minnehaha Avenue in September 2008. But Sara Wordofa, restaurant owner and operator, has been cooking meals for family and loved ones for decades.
Born in Arsi, Ethiopia, Sara learned how to cook from her mother at a young age. And since then, she has used her cooking skills for good. Starting at the age of 19 in a Kenyan refugee camp, Sara cooked nourishing meals for people in the camp to keep them healthy. Now nearly 20 years later, she continues providing delicious, authentic Ethiopian meals to the Twin Cities community.
And the demand is growing—allowing Sara to expand to an additional production location and develop an automatic machine for making injera. Sara’s favorite part about having her business on Lake Street? “Lake street is the center of everything with a diverse population,” she said. “You can come by car, bus, bike or train. Everything is here.”
Find more information about Katar River Restaurant on their website.
1511 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55407
Taco Taxi restaurants feature authentic and traditional Mexican dishes, all of which have come from family recipes handed down through the generations.
Taco Taxi’s bright yellow brick-and-mortar restaurant has been a mainstay on Lake Street since 2005. But when brothers Carlos and Hector Lopez initially decided to bring their hometown Jalisco, Mexico street food to the Twin Cities, they weren’t sure how successful the business would be.
Turns out, people really like tacos—especially theirs. So much so, that they added a Taco Taxi food truck to the mix and even cater events. For Carlos, a big part of their success is the Latino community in Minneapolis. And the fact that Lake Street is the heart of the Latino community is one of Carlos’s favorite parts about having his business here.
“At Taco Taxi, our commitment is to serve not just our guests, but our entire community,” Carlos said. “We consider our customers to be part of the family here at Taco Taxi, and we will continue to serve the community for generations to come. Carrying on this tradition is part of the Jalisco food style, and will always be a part of Taco Taxi.”
2955 Chicago Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55407
Midtown Eyecare is a full-service eye care clinic and optical shop. They provide comprehensive eye exams, contact fitting, and awesome eyeglasses. Hablamos Espanol and Afsoomaali.
Since opening its doors on Lake Street in 2014, Midtown Eyecare has provided culturally competent eye care to more than 10,000 patients. For Somali native and Midtown Eyecare owner Akmed Muhumud, the success of the business is a result of its patient- and community-focused service approach.
“We’re all about patient relationships,” said Akmed. “We deal with people with various challenges from language and cultural barriers, to mothers with small children and patients who don’t have much experience in the eye care field. We find ways to overcome these challenges and don’t ever let them get in the way of providing quality care to our patients.”
Akmed likes having his business on Lake Street for its convenience, ease of access, and rich cultural diversity. "Everyone is welcome on Lake Street! Our community provides an accessible and enjoyable environment through convenience, diversity, and a bus line that will take you everywhere."