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StP in 2014, part 2: The Year of the Silver City

Pedro Park under construction
Pedro Park under construction
photo by Adrian Schramm

Way back in frigid January, when 2014 had only just begun, it was already clear that this would be a crazy year in St. Paul. Now, almost halfway through, and there are so many new projects popping up that it's hard to keep up. While much of the action is taking place in downtown and Lowertown, there are notable new projects all across the city.

The Silver City has never looked better.

Amtrak started running on May 7. Union Depot is now home to MegaBus, Jefferson Lines, Greyhound, and Amtrak with the Green Line LRT ready to ride on June 14, and the uptick in business at the renovated depot has grown considerably with each new tenant.

Lunds opened May 15, and it lived up to the hype, offering everything from fresh produce to sushi to seafood and steaks in its beautiful building. Personal touches, like naming aisles after St. Paul streets, add to the shopping experience. For a growing downtown population, as well as the numbers that swell up to 70,000+ during the daytime, Lunds will prove to be a vital piece of the city's core.

Right across the street from Lunds, a new park is currently under construction at the Pedro's Luggage turned empty gravel pit. Soon, you’ll be able to grab your lunch, head to the park across the street and kick back in a field of flowers under a colorful mural.

And after lunch in the park, head down Robert Street and pick up something for later at Revival Wine, Beer & Spirits. The shop recently opened its doors in the revitalized Pioneer Endicott Building and offers one of the most creative wine selections in the Twin Cities.

Bar and Restaurant News:

While we’re still waiting on more news from our Strip Club friends about Saint Dinette opening in Lowertown, plenty more has popped up and St. Paul is coming into its own as a food city.

On Payne Avenue, Cook St. Paul has joined Ward 6 as a quality breakfast/brunch and lunch destination in the former Serlin’s space. Short Rib Eggs Benedict, Yellow Bean Korean Pancakes, Mac and Cheese and one of the best sandwiches in either city, the Monte Cristo, make this restaurant a must-try.

Craw Daddy’s is now open on Payne as well. If you’re looking for a pound of crayfish or shrimp to eat with your fingers, this is the place to go. Or how about All-You-Can-Eat Pho, Banh Mi sandwiches, and Mochi ice cream? It's all good at this fusion restaurant.

And these will soon be joined by Tongue in Cheek, a fine-dining concept from Leonard Anderson, formerly of W.A. Frost. Focusing on local and sustainable sources for 6-course tasting menus and small plates alike (check the menu) this promises to be a great addition to the “Eat Side” of St. Paul and bolster Payne's growing reputation as foodie district.

In Lowertown, Public Kitchen and Bar will add its name to the neighborhood’s growing list of quality drinking and dining establishments. With the main floor dedicated to lunch and dinner, the speakeasy-style lower level meant for late-night drinks and small plates, and the expansive patio out front available for those precious months of warm weather, Public will fit right in alongside Bin, Barrio, and Bulldog.

The Lexington, closed now for a little over a year, will see new life at the hands of Smack Shack owners Josh Thoma and Kevin Fitzgerald and award-winning chef Jack Riebel. This Grand Avenue legend will hopefully be open again within a few months.

Well-known St. Paul dive Half Time Rec is getting a kitchen as well, also at the hands of the Smack Shack founders. Classic Irish fare will add another component to the classic bar. The project is called Paddy Shack at The Rec, and should be available for regulars and tourists alike by this summer.

Sweet Pea’s Public House will replace the outdated Goby’s Grille and Pub on Snelling Avenue near Randolph. Featuring a full menu of pub classics and an extensive tap beer list, Sweet Pea's will open its doors early in June.

Nelson's Ice Cream, a Stillwater staple for giant scoops and amazing flavors, has opened a second location just two doors down from Sweet Pea's. Ice Cream always sounds good after a few pints...

Red Cow is still on track to open on Selby Ave, gutting the Costello’s space completely (it will be completely unrecognizable), with plans to be serving their burgers and beer by June 17.

Brewery and Taproom News:

St. Paul has Summit, what more do you need?

Apparently, quite a bit.

Tin Whiskers is now open in downtown’s Rossmor Building. The grand opening bash is being planned, but for now you can hang in the polished tap room, breathe that brewery air and test out some of the initial brews. Food from neighboring Sawatdee, Key's and Black Sheep restaurants are all welcome inside the taproom.

Bang Brewing is also open for business, with a taproom open Fridays and Saturdays, as is the 100% Gluten-Free Brewery Burning Brothers Brewing (surprisingly, or maybe not to some, BBB makes a lager, called Pyro, that more than holds its own against your good old fashioned beers).

Not far from Bang and BBB, Urban Growler Brewing Co, a plans to open its brewery and taproom very soon near St. Paul's city limits. All of these breweries, along with Surly's new massive brewery just over the border, are right along the Green Line LRT.

Flat Earth, St. Paul’s other flagship brew, has moved to the former Hamm's complex, with plans for a taproom and beer garden alongside Urban Organics and 11 Wells Distillery.

Speaking off 11 Wells, the distillery should be slinging spirits the local way within a few weeks as well. A new bill signed by Governor Dayton allows for "Cocktail Rooms" akin to taprooms at breweries.

Summit is also undergoing changes, tapping into the grill and BBQ crowd by offering beer in cans, now available in stores.

St. Paul, Music City and Other Entertainment:

Bedlam Theater’s grand opening is slated for May 31. We’ll (finally) get to hang there for regular hours, although everything they’ve done thus far, including the ensemble dance piece "YOU", and Art Crawl after-parties, have been awesome. Expect live music, dance nights, and plays and shows of all types, as well as a full bar and food menu.

While there are still plenty of us mourning the loss of Artists’ Quarter (myself included), the Dakota Jazz Club has taken over the space and is promising to do right by it. The biggest change will be the addition of a kitchen. Opening is tentatively slated for late this summer.

The Music Forest Café will open this summer on 7th Street as another venue in the growing downtown music scene.

The 2014 bonding bill was good to St. Paul, allotting millions of dollars to St. Paul’s continued growth. Among them? $5 million to get the grand, shuttered Palace Theater up and running again as a 3,000 capacity music venue. Amsterdam, Wild Tymes and Dakota’s new venture will all be within a few blocks of the Palace, creating the critical mass of music venues that make for vibrant nightlife area.

Two new record stores opened recently, both in the South Saint Anthony neighborhood. A block from the Raymond LRT stop, Barely Brothers Records deals in new and used vinyl and 7"s. The other, Agharta Records, is wedged between University Ave and Franklin, and features a Rock n Roll Literature and music inspired film collection along with their extensive selection of records from all genres.

And that's it for now. Hit subscribe above, or follow @draschramm, to stay updated on all St. Paul happenings.

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