Archive for the ‘Minneapolis’

Apple Valley Convinced BRT to Aid Growth

According to this article in the StarTribune, Apple Valley continues to pin its hopes on Bus Rapid Transit aiding growth within the city’s limits, especially the near decade-long vacancies in the Central Village “downtown” area. While Apple Valley’s leaders hope this will help everything from residential growth to new business, questions remain to be answered on how effective this new transit line will be and whether it can help business growth when most of the metro’s transit system is developed to funnel people into the city from the suburbs and not the other way around.

From the article:

An office building — one with a large employer as an anchor tenant — is high on the city’s priority list for filling some of the empty space. Nordquist said the city would like to see up to 100,000 square feet of office space, a total that likely would require an anchor tenant taking about 50,000 square feet.


“New construction is expensive, and there’s no shortage of existing space that would be cheaper for an office user,” Karkula said. Large chunks of vacant office space include the former offices of Delta Air Lines and Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Eagan and the former Brown College campus in Mendota Heights.

With so much other open development opportunities available elsewhere, Apple Valley appears to be jumping the gun on trying to build out and anticipate development needs around a transit line which hasn’t even opened yet and will remain in its infancy for years. The current transit system is oriented towards one-way travel: suburb -> city in the morning and city -> suburb in the evening. While BRT has the potential to fix this, somewhat, the City of Apple Valley is hoping that people from other areas are going to be willing to spend over an hour on transit systems with several transfers to get to Apple Valley. This will continue to be a non-starter for years to come.

What Apple Valley is currently doing here is very similar to what they did with the start of Central Village nearly 15 years ago. They are hedging bets on broken thought processes and a clear lack of understanding of how they fit into the metro area. They need to wait for BRT to mature (which it likely never will) and instead of using nearly $1 million in tax dollars to retrofit buildings now for companies which have already turned away from Apple Valley (hey guys, where was the huge press event where you admitted you lost the company you touted as the future of Apple Valley’s business sector?), the waiting game should continue for a while so you aren’t left with more unused and outdated development for business which will likely never come.

What do you think about this one? If you were located in another part of the metro would you be willing to take the LRT to BRT to work in Apple Valley? Do you think the city should be using nearly $1 million in tax dollars to build out commercial space for companies which are likely to never come? Do you think BRT will ever become the transit line the county and cities hope? Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Smoke in the Pit BBQ: Minneapolis, MN

Last week the family headed up to Smoke in the Pit in the Powderhorn neighborhood in Minneapolis for dinner. The plan was to brave the overcast skies and sprinkling rain, get some ribs and chicken, and enjoy an evening at Powderhorn Park with the kiddos.

Smoke in the Pit is a tiny takeout place. They have a single ordering window, a restroom, a door to the kitchen, and a few feet of space where customers wait their turns to order or receive their food. While there are quite a few kinks in the system this early in the game, the staff was extremely friendly between bouts of yelling back and forth to quiet down so they could take orders or unlock the kitchen door so they could get back inside.

The menu, currently two pieces of paper stuck, somewhat cockeyed, to the wall above the ordering window, is full of the typical BBQ items: ribs, chicken wings, brisket, etc. They have beans, coleslaw, and mac and cheese as well as random extras for sides. Everything is made in-house even the peach cobbler they had as a special taped to a small piece of torn notebook paper taped to the inside of the ordering window on the day we were there.

We ordered almost everything off the menu including ribs, chicken wings (smoked, not the fried option which was also available), brisket, catfish (nuggets), mac and cheese, beans, coleslaw, and peach cobbler. Our bill came to $36 and we were told to wait about 15 minutes which eventually turned into 25.

We were provided several plastic grocery bags full of food and made our way the three blocks to Powderhorn park for our BBQ picnic. We chose a picnic table by the water and enjoyed watching the geese waddle around with their goslings. We opened up the styrofoam containers and dug in. I was surprised at the size of the portions, especially the ribs as well as the careful consideration of adding both plenty of BBQ sauce and a side of hot sauce.

The sides were pretty boring. The beans were nothing special and could use some work so they don’t closely resemble refried beans out of a can and the coleslaw was yellow, something I’d never encountered, but tasted good enough for me to eat it all–something I generally cannot do with other people’s coleslaw (it’s apple cider vinegar, mayo, sugar, celery salt, and pepper…why do people insist on screwing it up?!). The mac and cheese, however, gets its own lengthy description because, well, it was the strangest mac and cheese we’d ever eaten. It wasn’t cheesy, it had mushrooms in it, and it had absolutely no flavor, not even salt. After eating what amounted to be noodles and cream of mushroom soup several times over the evening we decided this was noodle soup and decided to never order it again. Hey Smoke in the Pit, you forgot the cheese and added mushrooms–gross.

The chicken wings were quite good. Fall of the bone tender, great smoke flavor, and a crispy skin. They were quite good enough on their own without the hot sauce (which was your standard cayenne pepper sauce and could have used some butter but whatever) or BBQ sauce. While I couldn’t drag myself back there to eat them again after waiting 25 minutes, they were almost worth the drive.

The brisket was disappointing. While it was tender, that was about all that could be said for it. Fatty, drained of color, and overall not very good, this is something which really should be one of the stars of the show. Really a sad thing, it didn’t even look appetizing at all.

The ribs, though, were absolutely amazing. BIG, meaty, tender, and smokey, these fell right off the bone. In fact, it was almost possible that you could pick up the bone, give it a shake or two, and have a pile of rib meat on your plate. While the BBQ sauce accompanying them was decent, like the chicken wings, these required no sauce. I have had ribs all over the place and while these aren’t the best by any stretch of the imagination, they were my favorite so far in Minnesota. I just wish there was some rub or stellar BBQ sauce on the side…

Overall I thought Smoke in the Pit was good enough to do again with a lakeside picnic. While I’d stick to the meats and bring my own sides and BBQ sauce, this would be a place I’d recommend you get the wings and ribs, they were pretty great.

Have you been to Smoke in the Pit? What did you order and what did you think? What other great BBQ places have you been to recently that you think we should try for another BBQ picnic in the future? Whatever you have to say about Smoke in the Pit BBQ in Minneapolis go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Smoke in the Pit
3733 Chicago Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55407


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What Makes You Attached to the MSP Metro?

According to this MinnPost article which discusses what makes people attached to a particular city. The article discusses with Katherine Loflin, a placemaking expert and lead consultant for a Gallup and Knight Foundation study on what drives attachment to a city. While the results of this study are interesting, most people may disagree with the findings.

From the article:

If people can find jobs and reasonable places to live, they’ll be attached enough. Worrying about quality of life, amenities, public spirit and all that squishy stuff seems a bit trivial in an economy that still recovering from one of the worst recessions ever.

But Loflin makes a business case for love of a place. These days, those people most likely to drive the growth of a city, namely young people between the ages of 25 and 34, have reprioritized. Quality of life registers high on their list of necessities. Corporations are finding that increasingly they have to sell talented recruits on the place where they would be relocating as well as the job.

As a hiring manager working in a field which is showing rapid growth and high competition during the turned down economy, I have been fighting to both recruit and retain people for my teams. While my experience is limited and certainly not as wide as the number of people looked at by this study, my experience in no way mirrors what Loflin has said. Talented recruits just out of school or with less than 10 years experience have just as much desire for high salary, regardless of their current location in our outside Minnesota, as anyone else I have talked to recently. You can sell them all you like on the greatness of the MSP metro but they know two things: money talks and it’s freakishly frigid here. When recent grad students are requesting six figure salaries without more than a few months of relevant real-world experience and getting offers from elsewhere with it, I can give you a 99.999% guarantee that this study is bunk.

What do you think about this one? Would you pass over a much higher income elsewhere just so you could stay where the people are? Are you surprised that recently minted masters-level students without much relevant experience are receiving such high offers when you hear in the news that this group is so hard pressed for cash lately? What attaches you to the MSP metro? Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Kid Separated From Parent on Plane is News?!

According to this article over on Eagan Patch, a mother was separated from her 6 year old child on a flight due to seating policies. Staff would not move them closer together prior to the light and allegedly scolded other passengers who offered their seats to the woman.

From the article:

Single mom Jennifer DeYoung of Eagan booked the flight through Orbitz for both her son Avery and herself, but when they checked in at the airport they found out they were assigned seats in different parts of the plane.

Things didn’t get any better after they boarded. DeYoung said flight attendants were rude and suggested she take another flight the following day, and that’s when she started crying

As someone who has flown on planes and run into a similar situation, although with another adult and two children which was rectified before we boarded, I can’t say that I would be all that freaked out by being less than 100 feet from my child on a plane. I applaud the woman if she’s one of those people who are in constant view of their child, not looking at her mobile phone, and not chatting with another parent next to her while her child plays somewhere nearby; however, I have a feeling she’s just like everyone else and that distance wouldn’t bother her in the least in most other situations. This one simply was her not getting her way and seeing it as an opportunity to “SAVE THE CHILDREN”.

What about you? Would you throw a hissy fit if you weren’t allowed to sit next to your child due to booking on a site like Orbitz and then ignoring the slew of e-mails the airlines sends you about moving seats and potentially having to purchase upgrades to get you sitting next to others? Do you think this parent is just looking for attention and usually has her face buried in her mobile phone anyway? Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.