BY DEBRA KEEFER RAMAGE
Similar to Highland Park, the Grand Avenue environs of St. Paul were less affected by the property violence associated with the uprisings about Justice for George Floyd. But not totally unaffected. One of our featured businesses had their much-anticipated reopening delayed because their windows were smashed and the National Guard was hanging out on their sidewalk! More on that later …
We’ll start, as customary, with the grocery stores. It’s almost “grocery store,” singular. That would be Kowalski’s, at 1261 Grand Ave., where they highlight the fact that this was their first store EVER. Cool! I went there for the very first time just a week ago, and got some Ines Rosales tortas for snacking while working on my computer. It’s also got a great wine annex.
Another option for grocery shopping right on Grand Avenue is closed for the pandemic, but offering a swell little online store—Seasoned Specialty Foods. They offer delivery but only in a few St. Paul zip codes, or they’re open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for pickup. It looks worth it, even though you can’t go in and browse their store (described elsewhere as “cute”). Check out this: seasonedspecialtyfoods.com/food-maker-corner, showcasing local specialty food producers. Then head to their online ordering page. Even their fresh produce leans into Asian and Latin American styles of food, and their deli and meal kits are highlighted by pho and banh mis.
The venerable Golden Fig Fine Foods (794 Grand Ave.) is open to the public but closed Mondays. Although they are also part of the locavore movement, they’re more of a gourmet shop. They get 100% American-grown produce in almost daily. One of their specialties since COVID hit is crafting really amazing meal kits that can be picked up curbside or in store, plus they have a variety of sliced deli meats, cheeses, fresh soups, salad ingredients, and fresh local bread arriving daily for folks looking for a super fast meal. They also have some cool products, and online ordering at goldenfig.com/shop/. On nearby Selby Avenue, you’ll find a Whole Foods and the venerable co-op, Mississippi Market, but we’ll cover them in a future edition.
Turning to services, Grand Avenue has lots of them, from investment advisors and lawyers, to chiropractors and other medical helpers, to car repair and electronics repair. Space does not allow me to cover them all, so I’ll mostly focus on the personal care places, as that’s something we crave in this pandemic time.
But first, the obligatory (where pertinent) bike shop. Grand Avenue has Grand Performance, at 1938 Grand Ave., open for business as usual. They have an excellent reputation. For instance: five stars (the max) based on 49 reviews on Facebook.
Another service that isn’t directly personal care, but does provide great peace of mind, is Dog Days Inc., a small St. Paul chain of doggy day care and boarding, with three locations. One of them is at 1752 Grand Ave. After initially closing for COVID-19, they began reopening in stages and are now back to nearly normal. And they have a low-to-no-contact drop-off and pickup service.
For that personal care vibe, I like to look for things with “spa” in the name, or else “wellness.” Looking good is OK, but feeling
good is better, yes? (Customer recommendations help too.) There are numerous such spaces on Grand Avenue, so I’ll pick one whose services I am familiar with from other locations and a couple of others that have been praised by customers. The one I personally like, though I’ve not been to their Grand Avenue spot, is Juut Salon Spas, an outlet of Aveda services and products. It’s a place where every service includes a short but delightful massage and a cup of herbal tea, and their excellent products have stood the test of time. Juut is at 857 Grand Ave.
A little to the east, at 700 Grand Ave. (in the Edina Realty building across the road from Dixie’s) is Moxie Hair Salon. Since they’ve been selected seven times as a Reader’s Choice Best Hair Salon in City Pages, I’d say they come highly recommended. This is the business which had its front windows smashed in late May (see photo, from June 1). Check out their Facebook page for a preview if you’re interested.
The other hair salon (also does nails) is Roberto’s on Grand at 1416 Grand Ave. They are one of those traditional low-profile-but-dependable-type Grand Avenue businesses. They’ve been there since 1995, they have a loyal following, and they use an obscure brand of Italian hair products. They also have a Facebook page, and also five stars for their reviews.
If you feel you need more than a haircut, pedicure and 10-minute foot massage, you could try The China Institute at 1033 Grand Ave. It’s a TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) Clinic, headed by Dr. Zhuoling Ren, and features acupuncture and all manner of TCM treatments “integrated with Western Medicine theory. Dr. Ren specializes in treating complex, difficult, and challenging conditions.” You can check them out online at www.chinainstitute.com/.
Now we turn to the wonderful world of “out to eat.” Remember that? There are a few spots open for inside dining, a lot open for patio dining (fine for now) and a load of takeout, curbside and delivery options, some new with COVID on the scene. We’ll just give you a line or two on each one, to fit in as many as possible.
*Davanni’s – 41 Cleveland Ave. Just takeout and delivery. But—new group-ordering feature. Pizza and hoagies.
*Grandview Grill – 1818 Grand Ave. Walk-up orders for takeout only. Open at 6:30 a.m. American diner food.
*Indochin – 1702 Grand Ave. Dine-in, takeout, delivery. Southeast Asian cuisine, specializing in noodles.
*Grand Catch – 1672 Grand Ave. Open patio or inside with reservations. Takeout boil-at-home kits. Seafood.
*French Meadow – 1662 Grand Ave. Open patio or inside with reservations. Takeout or delivery via DoorDash or GrubHub. Healthy French-influenced organic food.
*Khyber Pass – 1571 Grand Ave. Takeout only or order through Bite Squad for delivery. Afghan cuisine, award-winning.
*Bap and Chicken – 1328 Grand Ave. See https://www.bapandchicken.com. Dine in with restrictions, or takeout. Korean street fare meets Minnesota State Fair.
*Colossal Cafe – 1340 Grand Ave. Open with restrictions. American diner food.
*Everest on Grand – 1278 Grand Ave. Indoor dining with reservations. Online delivery by Bite Squad. Indian / Nepalese.
*Cafe Latte – 850 Grand Ave. Walk-up ordering for takeout. Order for delivery with ChowNow. Healthy American food.
*Hyacinth – 790 Grand Ave. Limited dine-in or outdoor seating, walk-up pasta to-go. Italian.
*Punch Pizza – 769 Grand Ave. Takeout only. Small local chain.
*Grand Ole Creamery & Pizza – 750 Grand Ave. Takeout or dine-in with restrictions. Ice cream and pizza.
*Tavern on Grand – 656 Grand Ave. Open for inside dining with restrictions. Rustic American fare.
Finally, retail and “other.” Sadly, I don’t have space for all the wonderful places on Grand Avenue. A few we have reviewed before I’ll just mention are open, at least for online or phone orders with curbside pickup, but most are open for shopping with restricted numbers and face masks. These include Wet Paint (art supplies), Legacy (handmade gifts), Treadle Yard Goods (fabric and supplies), Red Balloon (children’s books), Mischief (toys for older kids), and Grand Hand (consignment arts and crafts gifts—sign posted on the sidewalk reminds us to support artists).
Just Truffles, at 1363 Grand Ave., has been in business for 28 years, with an earlier location at the St. Paul Hotel. They offer a sumptuous assortment of hand-dipped truffles in more than 35 different flavors. And then there’s Irish on Grand, which sells Irish gifts such as knit “jumpers” (pullover sweaters), gorgeous jewelry, crystal and china, artworks and travel books.
Another interesting-looking shop is Fjallraven. This is part of a chain, but it’s international, with only a select few stores in the U.S. They sell clothing and gear such as backpacks and things to pack in them for serious hikers and mountaineers. Their open-to-all shopping hours are noon to 3 p.m, with a couple hours before and after for shopping by appointment. But I suspect a lot of their business is online. See https://www.fjallraven.com/us/en-us.
Finally, we have Owasso Guitar Company, which started in 2012 in the owner and guitar crafter’s parents’ basement, later relocated to an ex-garage in an alley behind 407 Grand Ave. They hand-build and customize guitars just for you.
In the “other” category, we have the Twin Cities Friends Meeting, i.e., the Quakers of St. Paul, at 1725 Grand Ave. This Friends’ Meeting was established in the 1960s. They are currently holding all meetings, including worship, online. See their website for more details. Your nature walk for this focus piece is along the glorious Mississippi River, which can be accessed at the western end of Grand Avenue via the Boulevard of the same name.