BY DEBRA KEEFER RAMAGE
Art, movies, games and Korean fried chicken
Grand Avenue in St. Paul is known for trendy bars, popular restaurants and upscale retail, as well as dignified old apartment buildings mixed in with the single-family homes and duplexes that predominate. But there are other, less-apparent gems, some of which we will look at this month, starting with a small, unassuming artist’s studio. Footprints, at 1887 Grand Ave., is the studio of a single artist, Pamela Yates. She works primarily in acrylics, oils and watercolor. Her work ranges from figurative to abstract, with recurring themes of Native stories, culture, the natural world, healing and narrative paintings. Check out her work at footprintsartstudio.com or call for hours or an appointment to view it in person.
Settling in comfortably among those venerable old apartment buildings I mentioned is a very up-and-coming new apartment building called Kenton House. I first wrote about this building in 2021 when it was a project trying to get neighborhood approval and didn’t have a name yet, and again in 2022 when it was under construction and still controversial with Summit Hill neighbors. Now it’s nearing completion and open for leasing, with apartments available on all floors and in a variety of floor plans ranging from “alcove” to two-plus bedroom penthouses. Kenton House is located at 695 Grand Ave.
The Grandview (1830 Grand Ave.) is a classic movie theater that is now a modern two-screen cinema, part of the Mann chain, showing a mix of top new releases and golden oldies. At the time of this writing in mid-July, they were showing “Oppenheimer,” “Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning,” and “Asteroid City,” plus the 2016 sci-fi hit “Arrival.” Some films opening in the coming weeks include Disney’s “Haunted Mansion,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem,” the underwater thriller “Meg 2: The Trench,” and “Strays,” which features Will Farrell and Jamie Foxx voicing two adorable mutts. The oldies include Spike Lee’s legendary “Do the Right Thing” (1989), “Top Gun” (1986), and “Dazed and Confused” (1993) (see it with a bud!).
Speaking of having a bud, it seems like every neighborhood focus piece
I’ve done for the past couple of months has included a cannabis/hemp business or add-on, and Grand Avenue is no exception. First off, there’s a new name and address for the THC/hemp store Nothing But Hemp, which is now called Nothing But Canna, located at 742 Grand Ave. They stock hundreds of THC/cannabis products, including oils, tinctures, edibles (gummies, chocolates, hard candies), beverages (seltzers, coffees, teas, non-alcoholic wines), bath and body products, and even toys and treats for your pets. You can shop in person or order from their online store for two-day delivery or free shipping. Check them out at nothingbuthemp.net. Meanwhile, their old location at 844 Grand Ave. has now become Zero Proof, a non-alcoholic beverage house which aims to provide consumers with all kinds of options other than alcohol, including a wide selection of THC, mushroom, kratom, kava and herbal beverages, plus other N/A beers, wines and spirits. This is Zero Proof’s second location, the first being in Northeast Minneapolis at 2516 Central Ave. NE. The Minneapolis store also carries THC edibles as well as all of their N/A beverage offerings.
Another place to check out is Zaza Cannabis at 1112 Grand Ave., which is so new that it’s not really on any social media except TikTok and I just can’t look at that. I also have not had a chance to visit, so here is their phone number, if TikTok doesn’t answer your questions – 651-683-2659. A But I found out on the good old internet that Zaza is also a variety of cannabis! Here’s the dope on the dope: “ZaZa is a hybrid marijuana strain. It has an Indica/Sativa ratio of 70/30. …This weed comes with a 19%-21% THC content, making it suitable for adventurous beginners as well as experienced users.”
A major supplier for serious gamers, especially those into modern tabletop games, is Red 6 Games at 1326 Grand Ave. It’s been there about six years but used to be called Gaming GOAT. I’m not sure when the name changed but fortunately (for me and my research) they kept the same Facebook page and just renamed it. Not being a thoroughly versed gaming geek, but knowing enough to know what I don’t know, I won’t venture any opinions but to say that it is immensely popular and to have an overwhelming amount of inventory.
I’m intrigued by one new game they were plugging, fresh off of Kickstarter, called Illiterati. My interest is twofold. First, Red 6 describes it in their catalog as a “cooperative word game.” Now, I love word games, and I have been into the fairly rare genre called cooperative games from the beginning, but this is the first I have heard of a game that combines the two. Second, the name and the graphics style make me think it is riffing off an old Steve Jackson game called Illuminati, which I have a lot of nostalgia for, and is possibly my favorite game in the world.
Turning our attention now to the best kind of business – restaurants! You may recall that Khyber Pass at the corner of Grand and Snelling closed last year. Its replacement is a restaurant/bar called Bar + Cart. This restaurant’s online presence is a bit sparse at the moment, but according to their reviews they serve simple but popular bar food, including raw oysters, loaded hummus, and nachos, plus classic cocktails.
At 1328 Grand Ave. is another newcomer to the scene, bb.q. Chicken, the second Minnesota location of a franchise begun in Seoul, South Korea. Korean food and culture are having a big moment these days. bb.q Chicken is not the only, or even the largest, Korean franchise in the Twin Cities. That would be Bonchon, with at least six locations to date. But bb.q is still pretty impressive as one of the fastest growing restaurant chains in the U.S. Worldwide, it has more than 3,500 total locations in 57 countries.
bb.q Chicken specializes in Korean-style fried chicken, which comes in a huge choice of flavors, most in the form of spicy sauces added either before or after deep frying. But they have some other choices as well:
Ddeok-Bokki, which is described as “classic Korean street food made from rice cakes and fish cakes in a sweet and spicy chili reduction” and kimchi fried rice, a ubiquitous dish for lovers of Asian cuisine everywhere. Two more things you must know: 1. bb.q is not short for barbecue, but for “best of the best quality.” 2. Their food is also available on Door Dash for delivery.