BY DEBRA KEEFER RAMAGE
Groceries and bakeries – Oxendale’s and Asa’s Bakery
May is finally here and it’s time to shine some sunlight on 34th Avenue and 50th Street and its nearby businesses and organizations. Let’s start with getting some groceries in.
Oxendale’s is a small local chain with one location in Minneapolis and two in St. Paul. The Minneapolis location (5025 34th Ave. S.) is the oldest one. They specialize in providing things like organic produce, quality meats, interesting deli selections and the basics, often from small local providers. They have a website, although no online shopping, and you can also sign up for an email with coupons for weekly specials, if that’s your jam. I love shopping at Oxendale’s.
If you’re buying bagels or naturally leavened sourdough bread, however, pop over to Asa’s Bakery for those items. Asa also makes bialys, the hard-to-find (outside of New York City) cousins of bagels, with a similar size and chewy texture, but no center hole, and a more open crumb, sort of like an English muffin. Asa’s recently relocated from the Standish neighborhood to its new home at 5011 34th Ave. S., practically next door to Oxendale’s, and business is booming. But you’ll have to time your grocery shop right if you want to shop at Asa’s; their hours are Thursday and Friday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. And be warned, they often sell out and have to close earlier, so mornings are probably best.
Retail shopping – Nokomis Hardware and Nokomis Surplus
Nokomis Hardware is a big favorite with the locals. Owned by a woman and a veteran (the same person – Carolyn) it has been in business for 29 years! The shop was converted to solar energy in 2012. It’s located at 5155 34th Ave. S.
Nokomis Hardware has a barebones website and minimal social media presence, so it’s best to just stop by and visit them in person. They are always eager to help customers with repair and home improvement projects, and welcome you to drop in or call to get in touch. Well-behaved pets are welcome in the store, too!
Nokomis Surplus hasn’t been around quite so long but also has its loyal following. The thing here is about saving money. They are difficult to classify – not really a hardware store nor a general store. Nokomis Surplus carries power tools and home decor items like flooring and bedding, baby items, shoes, toys and games, and a hodgepodge of other things, all surplus and therefore deeply discounted.
The owner of Nokomis Surplus, Raul, updates the store’s Facebook page regularly so you can check out their latest merchandise and special offers. The small shop is located at 4935 34th Ave. S. and is open 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day, but is closed on Mondays.
Services – Auto repair shops and Twin Cities Home Rental
Auto Care Plus is a small auto repair shop in a former gas station space, a one-man shop or close to it. It has been in business for about 16 years and, judging from the number of cars always on its lot, does a good business. Dale is the owner/mechanic, and the shop is located smack on the corner, 5000 34th Ave. S.
A few blocks down, at 5415 34th Ave. S., is Nelson’s Automotive, a locally-owned auto service company with two other locations in Uptown and Dinkytown. The customer reviews on their website sing Nelson’s praises, with words like friendly, fast, reliable, honest, professional, reasonably priced, appearing over and over again. Plus, they believe in giving back to the community by doing things such as partnering with Lift Garage to provide discounted or free car repairs to families in need.
Twin Cities Home Rental (TCHR) is known as one of the most efficient and reputable local property managers, mostly for small apartment complexes or single-family homes. They take on all the issues that might be problematic for small-time landlords.
Even before you sign up as a potential rental owner with TCHR, they do a free analysis of your property to advise you whether to rent, and for how much, and if there are any improvements needed first. Then, they do everything – advertise, process applications and credit checks, collect rents, and provide the tenants with 24/7 coverage for fast responses to any issues.
You can visit their office at 5202 34th Ave. S. or contact them through their website, where you can also search for and view listed properties if you’re looking for a place to rent.
Personal services – Freshly Cut and The Workshop
Freshly Cut is an old-school barber shop with several chairs, providing modern, stylish haircuts. They also do shaves – beard line or a full straight razor shave. They are closed Sunday and Monday, and you can make appointments by phone (see their very fun Facebook page for the number). Freshly Cut is located at 4555 34th Ave. S. and has been in business with the same owner-operator since 2005.
The Workshop is an art school focused on clay. It was founded by “Jennie the Potter” who had an existing home-based business for 16 years before deciding to start a storefront studio and school. She employs a number of other artists as well. The studio has supplies for sale, several pottery wheels, and several kilns, including one gas-fired reduction kiln.
Classes are offered for adults, teens and children, at various experience levels. People with experience working with clay can also buy open studio memberships for a number of hours over a period of time and go in at their choice of open studio hours. In addition, a special series of classes called “Carving Space” is offered on a pay-what-you-wish basis for TQ
BIPOC art students, i.e., people of African, African American, or Indigenous heritage with a focus on trans and queer folks. There is also a retail component to the studio, and periodic events relative to its mission.
South Minneapolis dentistry district
On the 4800 block of 34th Avenue South, there are two dental practices. (In the past, this was traditionally a popular area for family dentists, as a 2015 article from MinnPost by Andy Sturdevant notes, and there were once even more.)
The first, at 4927 34th Ave. S., is Lake Nokomis Family Dentistry, which is actually a branch office of a practice in Round Lake, Minn. This practice comprises two dentists, Dr. Zhan and Dr. Proeschel, both graduates of the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. They offer maintenance, restorative and cosmetic dental services, including Invisalign for straightening teeth.
The second is Nokomis Family Dental, located at 4948 34th Ave. S., and open five days a week. The practice consists of three dentists, according to their website, also all graduates of the University of Minnesota Dental School: Dr. Alkhatib, Dr. Russomanno and Dr. Keane. They offer much the same services as their neighboring practice and accept most major dental insurance plans.
Food and drink – Berry Sweet Kitchen and Venn Brewing
Berry Sweet Kitchen is one of those places often mentioned in “best breakfast” or “customer favorites” lists. Located at 5406 34th Ave. S., Berry Sweet opened in 2013. They specialize in breakfast items, making all their baked items from scratch and smoking their own bacon in-house.
The list of offerings includes pancakes, crepes, French toast and waffles, omelets, eggs and meat, including steak, hash browns, a bowl with barbacoa and black beans, burritos, chilaquiles, Cuban breakfast, smoked salmon scramble, and biscuits with gravy. (And, of course, berries.) Beginning in June they will also be serving dinner, wine, beer and cocktails. Check their website for details, www.berrysweetkitchen.com. You can also get delivery from DoorDash, plus they do catering.
Venn Brewing has been around for a while. It’s located inside the
apartment complex at the 46th Street light rail station (3550 E. 46th St., so a couple blocks away from 34th Avenue). In a city overflowing with taprooms and craft breweries, Venn is a little different. For one thing, being located in a transit station essentially creates some issues with parking. There are only 14 parking spaces, and the towing is ferociously efficient if you need to leave your car there. Good thing it’s on a light rail line and several bus lines (hint, hint).
The other unusual thing is that it’s also a coffee shop, which accounts for the insanely early opening hour of 7 a.m., except on Monday when the coffee shop part is closed. They have no food for sale there, but it’s fine to bring your own food and just buy drinks. They are also, like many taprooms, very well served by food trucks. For instance, during the month of May, on most days Potter’s Pasties and Northbound Smokehouse food trucks will both be onsite. (This could be a boon to the apartment dwellers, too.)
In addition to bringing in any food items, you can also bring your dog, as long as it is well-behaved and on a leash. And you can bring your kids, because they do have some non-alcoholic drinks that are both adult and child appropriate. And the coffee shop is open until 4 p.m. The one thing you cannot bring with you is any drink apart from water. The taproom itself is really great as taprooms go. They have 16 beers available at any given time, over a wide range of types, flavors and ABVs. Beer to go in crowlers is available, or in a growler if you bring your own and it passes their cleanliness inspection.
Books and more for absolutely nothing – the Nokomis Library
Have I mentioned how deliriously happy I am that the Hennepin County libraries are all fully open? Well, I am deliriously happy about that. Nokomis is my second nearest library and is open twice as many hours as the nearest one, so it’s very important to me.
In addition to the usual delights of a library – books, periodicals, music, films, computer usage – the Nokomis Library has something only one other Hennepin Library has. It has a seed library! (The other is Hosmer.) When you check out seeds, you don’t need to return them, because you take them home and plant them! But it is good to come back the next year and donate seeds of your own, from the same plant or from a different one.