Building a stronger Midway

Openings and expansions


As someone who works for a chamber of commerce, one of the fun parts of the job is helping open new businesses. This means walking around with a giant pair of scissors and getting the odd looks that come with it. (Yes, they do cut. Yes, that includes hair. Just ask the people at the Turf Club).
On Sept.14, Slice Brothers Pizza opened at the corner of University and Dale in the NDC building. The business is owned by Adam Kado and Hosie Thurmond and this is their third location, with a fourth opening at the Mall of America Oct. 5. Both owners have strong Saint Paul roots and are ecstatic about opening closer to home. Mayor Carter pointed out at the ribbon cutting, the event with red and black balloons, could remind someone of Kado’s alma mater, Saint Paul Central (also the alma mater of several people in attendance). A popular menu item is the dill pickle ranch pizza, but they also offer more traditional toppings as a whole pie or, naturally, by the slice.
Comcast opens Lift Zones throughout the nation in different metropolitan regions, and recently opened their newest Saint Paul location at the International Institute of Minnesota. Lift Zones help connect students and their families to free WiFi and are often located at nonprofits and rec centers. There are over 1,000 nationally, over 100 locally and several throughout Saint Paul.
The day after the Lift Zone ribbon cutting, Paul Davis Restoration cut the ribbon on their new space at 429 Prior Ave. N. They relocated from Oakdale to the Midway in 2014, and by the time they held a grand opening event in 2016 they were already ready to expand once more. Paul Davis Restoration is a great success story. Since 2016, they have almost tripled their employees locally and they delayed their impending move until they could find the right spot that would keep them in the Midway. They capped the event off with a block party, an annual tradition that includes a band, food, beer and draws a bigger crowd every year.
Another much-anticipated grand opening occurred recently when King Coil Spirits opened at Vandalia Tower. The new distillery specializes in craft cocktails and Roman-style pizza, and is tucked into a fun, brick-exposed space with a retro vibe. The space has a front and back bar with differing menus, meaning you’ll want at least two visits. Owned by the same team that opened Lake Monster Brewing, the two businesses are just steps away from each other. According to distiller Matt Lange, after one week in operation the most purchased drink was the ever-popular mule; however, there are many more unique and creative concoctions to try.
Staying at Vandalia Tower, OMG Studios is preparing its own opening for later this year. The media company owned by Monique Linder is taking over space that had been the actual office for the King Koil Mattress Factory. The space will feature three studios for podcasting, music, video and more. Linder’s background working with acts like Prince and shows at the Grandstand will bring top level talent through the doors.
A trip north on Snelling brings us to the former Hamline Hardware Hank site at 755 Snelling Ave. N. For 94 years, the site served as a hardware store until it closed its doors in 2020. Over the past three years the space has been the topic of many conversations around open space in the neighborhood as neighbors ponder what could take over the space next to Mirror of Korea – and when.
Finally, we have an answer. Udo’s Market, a west African grocery store on University and Pascal, is moving in. Not only will the grocery section be expanded, but a kitchen will be added to serve west African dishes from different countries. Multiple cooks have been hired representing different west African cultures and all three meals will be served throughout the day. Owner Mike Udo expects the opening to take place late November or early December. And yes, the giant paint can decoration on top of the building will stay.
The recent and upcoming openings reflect growing businesses, many of whom have already been a part of our Midway community. They are all attracting people to the Midway in their own way while also serving as great amenities for neighbors. Some are in new buildings (Slice) or recently renovated buildings (the Lift Zone), while others are in buildings 100+ years old. They all make up what makes the Midway unique and fun place to visit. Whether you’re a longtime resident or new to the neighborhood yourself, I hope you can support our local businesses and keep your purchasing power with your fellow neighbors.


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