Great Turnout for Blue Door Pub Longfellow Beer & Wine Hearing

Blue Door Pub Longfellow Location Beer & Wine Hearing
Blue Door Pub Longfellow Location Beer & Wine Hearing

As surely everyone in Longfellow has heard by now, the Blue Door Pub is working on opening a new location at the corner of 42nd Ave S at 35th St. The plan is for a 75 seat restaurant similar to the one they operate today on Selby near Fairview in St. Paul.

There was a hearing tonight regarding the BDP’s application for a beer & wine license.

Based on what I’ve learned, it sounds like there are quite a few restrictions the Blue Door Pub needs to work within in order to get approval at that location. Among them:

– No bar
– No serving alcohol without a food order (the Anchor Fish & Chips plays by similar rules on 13th Ave NE)
– The majority of the business’ revenue must come from food rather than alcohol.
– No exterior alcohol signs (this is due to the close proximity of a school)

There may be others. Those are what I remember.

The largest concerns came from nearby neighbors who expressed concerns with increased noise, traffic, and smells. They have requests for shorter hours, limits on delivery hours, restricting smoking to the south side of the building, and no queuing outside the restaurant. A good summary of these issues can be found on the TC Daily Planet. For a more unabridged version, check out E-Democracy’s thread on this.

Quite a few people showed up to express their pleasure that the eyesore of a building will be transformed into a vibrant local business. One nearby neighbor even mentioned moving into the neighborhood because the BDP was coming. Some St. Paul residents near the current BDP shared their experiences with having the BDP as a neighbor and had nothing but good things to say.

I get the impression that the BDP will have no problem getting their license approved. It sounds like that may take around a month from today to get done, but that puts them one hurdle closer to opening their new restaurant. There may be some compromises on hours of operation and happy hour hours, but it sounds like our local city council member, Sandy Colvin Roy, is willing to accomodate the business’ interest in serving people leaving the Riverview Theater’s 7pm and possibly 9pm showings on weekends, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see weekend hours of 12:30 or 12am.

Personally, I welcome the Blue Door Pub to the neighborhood. I think they’ll do well here. And, I think neighbors will be good neighbors to the neighbors who are neighbors of the BDP. Another big win for Longfellow.

Making Progress on 100 Foods to Eat Before I Die

I’m not dead yet, so I have time to eat a few more foods from the Very Good Taste Omnivore’s 100 list. Since 2008, I’ve chipped off a few:

2. Nettle tea
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
8. Carp
9. Borscht
14. Aloo gobi
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
30. Bagna cauda
33. Salted lassi
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
50. Sea urchin
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
59. Poutine
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
68. Haggis
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
93. Rose harissa
95. Mole poblano
97. Lobster Thermidor
100. Snake

Thank Gary Schiff for Minneapolis’ Beer Business Renaissance

Minneapolis city councilperson, Gary Schiff, deserves quite a bit of credit for Minneapolis’ beer business renaissance. For example, Schiff wrote the Brew Beer Here bill (PDF) this summer, which allows growler sales from breweries, which lead to opening of Harriet Brewing on Minnehaha Ave in Longfellow:

Ward 9 Council Member Gary Schiff has introduced legislation to eliminate the requirement for a microbrewer to have an on-sale license in order to be able to sell malt liquor products that are produced and packaged on the premises.

“This law will enable people to buy growlers (half-gallon containers of beer) at the brewery site,” Schiff said. Currently, the State of Minnesota allows microbreweries to sell growlers directly from the brewery if the annual beer production is less than 3,500 barrels. But breweries in Minneapolis can’t sell growlers unless they have an on-sale license. And to qualify for the on sale license, the brewery must sell 60 per cent food in ratio to 40 per cent liquor.

And Schiff, together with Elizabeth Glidden, put together the Surly Bill, which hasn’t brought Surly to town yet, but allowed Fulton to open their doors this week in the North Loop:

City officials also have been pursuing Surly for a potential riverfront location.

The proposal by council members Gary Schiff and Elizabeth Glidden applies to brewers that produce fewer than 250,000 barrels annually. Fulton hopes to brew about 3,300 barrels a year at first.

And, guess who wrote the bill that overturned the ban on restaurant-pubs within 300 feet of churches in Minneapolis? Gary Schiff.

Minneapolis city councilman Gary Schiff believes the 300-foot restriction between a church and restaurant-bar is a relic from an era long past.

“This is a recession. We need to do anything we can to scrap these old laws off the books, clear the red tape and create jobs,” said Schiff.

We can go back to 2002 for yet another example of how Gary Schiff has made Minneapolis a better place to eat and easier place for restaurants to do business. Back in the day, restaurants had to bring in their furniture every night, which led to them purchasing crappy plastic stackable furniture. Once that was changed, restaurants were able to invest in higher quality furniture:

Lovers of outdoor dining can start writing their thank-you notes to Council Member Gary Schiff. The 9th Ward rep, working with the 7th Ward’s Lisa Goodman, is sponsoring a measure with new language that would encourage easier-to-manage and better-looking sidewalk cafes.

The current ordinance, most recently amended 11 years ago, requires that all furniture, planters and other materials be removed from the sidewalk when the restaurant isn’t operating. The Schiff-Goodman proposal – which is aimed specifically at downtown real estate – will permit permanent furniture

Great stuff. All are examples of low to no-cost regulatory modifications that allow businesses to grow while residents and visitors enjoy our city. I’ll drink to that.

Hidden Cameras, Puppy Mills, and Pork

Kristi Piehl has an interesting piece up on MinnPost’s Blog Cabin about a proposed bill authored by Senator Doug Magnus (R) District 22 and Representative Rod Hamilton (R) District: 22B (both are from the SW corner of the state).

She received this alert from the Humane Society about the the bill:

“Two critical bills, S.F. 1118/HF 1369 (authored by Sen. Doug Magnus and Rep. Rod Hamilton – the chairs of the Senate and House Agriculture Committees) were introduced in the legislature this week. If passed, these bills criminalize anyone blowing the whistle on animal cruelty (including puppy and kitten mills), food and worker safety, labor abuses, and environmental crimes, etc, by making it a crime to video tape and show footage shot inside a puppy/kitten mill or factory farm. These bills also make the possession and distribution of this information (images) a crime, including possession and distribution by the news media. Unfortunately similar bills have also been proposed in Florida and Iowa.”

Piehl riffed on that except to build a piece about the media implications of this proposed bill. As Piehl mentions, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear from undercover investigations into your business practices.

But Magnus and Hamilton aren’t media ethicists. Can you guess what they’re occupations are? Farmers. Yep. Farmers.

For example, Republican Representative Rod Hamilton lists his occupation on his state bio as “Pork Producer”.

If there are food safety issues in Rep. Rod Hamilton’s pork producing operation, he wants to make it illegal for you to document it.

If Rep. Rod Hamilton has unsafe conditions for his workers on his farm, he wants to make it illegal for you to document it.

If Rep. Rod Hamilton is violating labor laws in his pork producing facility, he wants to make it illegal for you to document it.

If Rep. Rod Hamilton is treating the environment like crap, he wants to make it illegal for you to document it.

As I see it, Rep. Rod Hamilton is using his position of power to make telling the truth illegal. Even worse, he’s in a position to personally financially benefit from criminalizing truth telling.

If I can’t trust pork producers like Rep. Rod Hamilton to let the truth to be told about their industry, should I trust them with my health? As much as I love pork, this is downright scary behavior from a person in the food chain that I have to be able to trust.

How Low Can an Urbanspoon Rating Go?

There is a deli in Times Square at Broadway and 47th that has one of the lowest ratings by Urbanspoon users that I’ve ever seen. The 71 people who’ve taken the time to rate the place on Urbanspoon have liked it only 49% of the time:

Roxy Delicatessen in Times Square on Urbanspoon

That is a remarkable achievement. As a fairly active Urbanspoon user I have rated 816 restaurants that I’ve eaten at over the past few years, and can say from experience that it appears to be downright difficult to get a rating that low. Why? Because most places will close before reaching such low ratings.

I’ve eaten at Roxy Delicatessen. In fact, I’ve eaten there twice, which I think gives me some insight into why the place is rated so poorly: Even for Time Square, it’s overpriced. We’re talking $20-$30 for downright average burgers and sandwiches. Some friends of mine spent $58 on breakfast for two there earlier this month. It’s location gets people in the door, and their regret motivates them to visit Urbanspoon to “spoon down” the place.

They have the benefit of being able to survive, conceivably forever, without ever serving the same customers twice. They don’t need to be great. They don’t even need to be good, since so many people walk past their door daily.

Which brings me to this:

Baja Sol Columbus, OH Rating on Urbanspoon

Tony Sutton’s Columbus, Ohio Baja Sol location blew right past Roxy’s Delicatessen on a race to the bottom of Urbanspoon’s ratings. More than seven out of ten Urbanspoon users who dined at that Baja Sol location disliked the place enough to spoon it down.

Here is an example of a generous negative review from someone named Morgan:

I wanted to like it, honestly! The salsa bar was nice and our service was average. I got a burrito that could have fed 2 people, easily. That may sound like a pro but their just wasn’t any flavor! I could have used half the size and double the flavors! My bf was also not impressed. We got margaritas one frozen and one on the rocks, both were too sweet and tasted like they had powdered sugar in them, not good at all! I would say give it a try… But don’t have too high of hopes.

It sounds like she went in with an open mind to try a new place in town and walked away disappointed with everything she ate and drank. Yes she still says “give it a try”! That’s generous. What would it take for Morgan to say “stay away”?

By the way, this Baja Sol restaurant appears to have been a sit down with wait staff and a bar concept. It was in an old Don Pablo’s, so maybe people were going in with Don Pablo’s standards? (I’m not sure that those are particularly high standards.)

My theory here is that Baja Sol talked a better game than it could walk. The restaurant clearly got people in the door (it has received a comparable number of ratings to Roxy). The parking lot had cars in it when Google’s StreetView car drove by:

Baja Sol Columbus, OH

That’s good talking. However, unlike Times Square, Columbus, Ohio mall parking lots can not deliver a never ending supply of one-time customers. If people don’t come back, you’ll eventually run out of customers. This Baja Sol location has closed.

By the way, if you prefer Yelp to Urbanspoon, the same venue pulled 2 out of 5 stars over there. This snippet of a review from Larissa B may have nailed the problem with surprising accuracy:

It’s as if Bob and June from the ‘burbs decided to open a Mexican restaurant and tried their best to design a menu and atmosphere that was vaguely Hispanic but appealed to boring white people who are afraid of spicy food.

Bob and June from the ‘burbs are actually Tony and Bridget from Inver Grove Heights.

Sun Country’s In-Flight Pizza

Would you pay $6 for this:

Sun Country Pizza

I did. It’s not particularly good. That being said, I have ordered it more than once. I think it’s the finest thing on Sun Country’s in-flight menu, although I’ve heard some high praise for their cheeseburgers.

If you pick up a $6 beer to go with it (you’ll need something to wash it down) they’ll give you $2 off for an even $10.

Buffalo Chicken Waffle Sandwich at Loose Moose Toronto

As if buffalo chicken sandwiches weren’t already good enough, try having one
with a waffle for a bun.

Try it once. That’s enough.

Pulled Pork Sandwich at Beer Bistro in Toronto

My Uncle Harry has been suffering from a lack of food blogging on The Deets
lately. This qualifies. Delicious, with fries and coleslaw on the sandwich.
I almost died.

Luckily, I had a overhopped ale to help wash it down.

Galactic Pizza + Give & Take

Aaron and I biked over to Uptown to grab some pizza and check out Give & Take on Wednesday night.

Pizza? Yes, I was with Aaron. Galactic Pizza was the choice of the night, for their Second Harvest Heartland vegetarian. A buck goes to Second Harvest, which is cool, but would only be cool if the pizza was good too. And it was.

Also, Galactic has new menus, as Aaron demonstrates:

Aaron Reading the Galactic Pizza Menu

Yes, they’re 3-D. My turn:

Ed Reading the Galactic Pizza Menu

Full disclosure: We knew what we were going to get before we got there. Acting, people.

Then the pizza arrived, I wanted to quickly grab a piece so I could burn the roof of my mouth. But Aaron, being the experienced pizza diner that he is, put a hold on things so he could first document with his iPhone.

Aaron Pizza Shooting at Galactic Pizza

With full stomachs, we walked over to Intermedia Arts for Give & Take, where Holly explained how awesome Colombia is for kicking it with a backpack for a couple weeks.

Holly at Give & Take

Then Conner caught us up on what’s going on with the Minneapolis food truck scene.

Conner at Give & Take

Which reminded me that I haven’t had an encounter with Foxy Falafel yet. Who’s hungry?