Do you believe in curses?
If you ask the handful of restaurateurs that operated at the former Old Chicago space in Uptown, they just might say, “Yes.”
The site, at 2841 Hennepin Ave., just north of the Midtown Greenway, has played host to Southern-styled BoneYard, Mexican eatery Salsa a la Salsa, and Game, an LGBT sports bar. (Kaskaid Hospitality, owner of Crave restaurants, operated BoneYard and Salsa a la Salsa.) All failed in a year or less.
Now, Lotus, a popular Vietnamese restaurant near Loring Park, has opened a second location in the spot. Does it have any hope? If people knew the answer to that question, says Mike Finkelstein, “we’d all be retired and extremely wealthy.”
Finkelstein, a long-time Minneapolis real estate broker and consultant who now runs his own firm, Maven CRE, thinks there’s no one explanation for why so many restaurants have tried and failed there. Instead, he thinks each had their own problems: BoneYard’s food didn’t land with an audience, Salsa a la Salsa appeared to have operational issues and Game appealed to a niche audience that couldn’t keep the space filled.
But the subtleties of location probably played a factor, too.
“When you go north of the [Uptown Transit Station], you really hit a cutoff,” Finkelstein says. “It’s kind of a demarc point that cuts off the critical mass of people” that make up the nightlife crowd that populates Uptown.
But even if Lotus is able to blossom there, it might not survive the next construction boom. Finkelstein says the site was eyed for redevelopment—it’s one of the last remaining sites on the Midtown Greenway between Hennepin and Lyndale that hasn’t been turned into multifamily housing. The ownership group, led by broker and property manager Stuart Chazin, wanted to keep it in its portfolio—at least for now.