Block E Applebee’s Closes Doors, Workers Relocated

The downtown Minneapolis Applebee's closed on Sunday, and all 45 of the store's employees have been offered positions at other Minnesota locations.

The long list of tenants who have exited downtown Minneapolis' Block E development just got longer.

The Applebee's restaurant on the skyway level of the development closed on Sunday. Katy Sienko, director of operations for Applebee's Minnesota restaurants, confirmed the closure on Monday.

Sienko said that the exit is the result of “a mutual decision between the franchise and landlord.” All 45 employees of the restaurant have been transferred to positions at other local Applebee's restaurants. “No one lost their jobs,” Sienko said. “We have 62 other restaurants in the state to place them at.”

Local development firm Alatus, LLC, acquired Block E in July 2010 from the Union Labor Life Insurance Company.

Alatus Principal Bob Lux was not immediately available for comment on Monday. According to Sienko, Applebee's was not told what will occupy its space in Block E. “We assume the landlord has plans to take it in another direction,” she said.

The $149 million Block E development has struggled since it opened in 2002 with the help of a $39.1 million subsidy from the City of Minneapolis. Many of the project's tenants-including Borders, Bellanotte, Snyders Drug, and GameWorks-have left, and they haven't been able to dispel widespread concerns about crime in the area. The Block E Hooters also shuttered last year.

Kieran's Irish Pub moved to the site in March 2010 to join the other remaining tenants, including The Shout House and Kerasotes ShowPlace Theatres.

In February, news broke that Alatus had hired an urban retail specialist to help revitalize the struggling development. The consultant-Bruce Kaplan, a senior vice president at the Chicago office of CB Richard Ellis-told Twin Cities Business in February that he hopes to have a strategic plan for the development in place by this summer.

Alatus also announced last month that it is considering adding a casino to the site-but before a casino could be housed in downtown Minneapolis, a Constitutional amendment to make non-Indian casinos legal in the state would be needed.