Axios Twin Cities

Why it matters: Axios Twin Cities, anchored by Torey Van Oot, Nick Halter and Audrey Kennedy, is here to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news and developments unfolding in their own backyard

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State supreme court approves ballot question on Minneapolis police

A memorial to George Floyd outside the Cup Foods corner store where he died last March. Photo: Nicholas Pfosi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Minneapolis voters will be able to weigh in on the city's police department on the local ballot, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

Why it matters: The proposed charter amendment was spurred by mass protests against police brutality after George Floyd's death last year. It would replace the city's police department with a new Department of Public Safety that "could include" police officers "if necessary."

Hy-Vee's new "smart store" model coming to the Twin Cities

The new Hy-Vee smart stores have vending machines that make a salad for you. Photo: Linh Ta/Axios Des Moines

Hy-Vee's got a new "smart store" model, and the Twin Cities is going to get the company's biggest yet, reports Linh Ta of Axios Des Moines.

What's happening: Hy-Vee CEO Randy Edeker told Axios that the forthcoming store will be 147,000 square feet, providing ample space for experimentation. It will also have an e-commerce hub and micro-fulfillment center.

Details: The new smart stores have kiosks to help you do everything from order a custom cake to buy an elliptical machine.

  • Looking for high-end wines? You can find $1,000+ bottles in the store's wine and spirits section, plus a cigar room.
  • There's a hot food area that functions like a food hall. Order at a kiosk, sit down and someone will bring out your Hy-Chi (Hy-Vee's Chinese restaurant).
  • And yes, a vending machine will even make you a custom salad.

The intrigue: A location has not been finalized yet, said Hy-Vee spokesperson Tina Potthoff.

Nick's thought bubble: Hy-Vee's not saying, but this is almost certainly the grocer's planned Bloomington/Southtown location that Axios Twin Cities reported about last week.

  • Site plans call for a 132,500-square-foot Hy-Vee store with a 21,000-square-foot additional retail space that would be a logical fit for the fulfillment center.
20 hours ago - Axios Twin Cities

Get your wine to stay or to go at Ridgedale Center

A wine bar and liquor store is planned at the old Champps space in Minnetonka. Image: Tanek, via city of Minnetonka

The former Champps restaurant (R.I.P.) next to Ridgedale Center is slated to become a wine bar, grocer and liquor store.

Driving the news: Top Ten Liquors has submitted plans to the city of Minnetonka, saying it will serve by-the-glass wines and small plates in a restaurant, plus operate a full-service liquor store.

Context: Top Ten is a fast-growing local liquor store chain. It's opened stores in Rosemount, Plymouth and Vandnais Heights in the past year, and now has 12 Twin Cities outposts.

What's next: A public hearing on the proposed store is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 4.

Will Twin Cities restaurants keep outdoor dining options this winter?

Freehouse’s 2019 outdoor patio domes. Photo courtesy of Blue Plate Restaurant Co.

Outdoor dining options kept many Twin Cities restaurants alive during COVID-19 restrictions last winter — and now the industry is revisiting whether to keep the patio tents and al fresco fixtures around.

Why it matters: The approaching cold weather combined with concerns over the Delta variant's spread have restaurant owners — who've seen some recovery from the pandemic's hard hit — searching for ways to keep diners coming back.

  • Six in 10 Americans are changing their dining patterns going into the fall because of Delta concerns, according to a new survey from the National Restaurant Association.
  • Nearly 20% said they won't be eating out at all.

State of play: Summer was good to local restaurants. Across Minnesota, 42% of restaurant operators reported higher revenues this summer than pre-pandemic, said Ben Wogsland, director of government operations for Hospitality Minnesota.

What's happening: For some, last winter was a test drive for offerings that will be made permanent.

  • Utepils Brewing in Minneapolis turned an outdoor beer garden into a year-round operation last winter, hosting live music with a giant bonfire and two-walled "tents."
  • And it worked. They saw record-breaking revenue and lines to get in, said Utepils president Dan Justesen.

Meanwhile, there's still a lot of trial and error — and guessing on how hardy Minnesotans are.

  • The Freehouse couldn't continue its popular outdoor domes due to ventilation and condensation problems, said Stephanie Shimp of Blue Plate Restaurant Co., which owns nine restaurants in the Twin Cities area.
  • Revenue is still expected to drop, she added, but several locations are implementing fire pits, patio heaters and blankets for the determined.

The bottom line: Restaurants can continue to get creative, but only time will tell if there's a return on investment.

  • "Last year, I think we were just grateful we had something. Now, we can build on that and see if it'll grow," Shimp said.
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