Spring on 48th and Chicago

One of the custom watches at Caliber Works Watch Repair

BY DEBRA KEEFER RAMAGE

Chicago Avenue in South Minneapolis is an interesting street filled with loads of interesting places. We’re focusing right now on the section that goes from 46th Street south to the Richfield border. This is a stretch that’s a little more than half residential, especially toward the southern end, but with lots of services, retail shops (mostly small and independent), nonprofit offices and facilities, entertainment venues, recreational facilities and eateries. Here is a sample.

Services

Ray N. Welter Heating Company (4637 Chicago Ave.), which also supplies air conditioning and air purification, is both a very old and stable company, and a modern, forward-looking one. The company has been around since 1912 and is now on its fourth generation of family ownership. They are a trusted source for heat pump-based systems, by which both winter heating and summer cooling for an entire house can be had with a single mechanical unit, and no combustion, so no greenhouse gases.

Heat pumps being tested for cold weather

Minnehaha Animal Hospital (4809 Chicago Ave.) is a full-service veterinary clinic that has been in the neighborhood for over 40 years and is highly rated by pet owner clients. So highly that they had to temporarily pause taking new clients! The original founding vet-owner, Dr. Joyce Tesarek, also founded Pet Doctors on Franklin Avenue. In April of 2020, Dr. Bobbi Soule became the new vet-owner and Medical Director at Minnehaha, and later that year she purchased Pet Doctors as well. Dr. Soule currently sees her animal patients at the Minnehaha clinic.
Family Dental Clinic (4454 Chicago Ave.) has been caring for teeth for exactly 40 years this year. They offer all conceivable types of dental care, from checkups to alignment, veneers, dental implants and dentures. Check out their great website at fdcminneapolis.com and read the story of historical pioneers of women in dentistry on their blog (currently, both dentists at the clinic are women) where you can also read health tips and FAQs about oral health.
Caliber Works Watch Repair is an interesting service shop at 815 E. 56th St. They have a truly fascinating website (caliberworkswatchrepair.com) teeming with oddball FAQs, watchmaker lore, and gorgeous graphics. In addition to doing repairs that match up with their extremely specific set of skills, they also teach classes in watch tinkering as a hobby, including “mods.”

Registration is open for MOCA’s Teal Strides for Ovarian Cancer fundraiser on Sept. 7.

Nonprofits

Tubman is now the name on the door of the facility at 4432 Chicago Ave., Tubman Chrysalis Center. It’s just one of the locations of the 48-year-old organization named for Harriet Tubman. They also operate two separate centers, one just for youth, in Maplewood. Tubman’s mission is centered on three words: safety, hope, and healing. As their website states: “Tubman has helped people of all ages, genders, and cultural backgrounds who are experiencing relationship violence, exploitation, mental and chemical health issues, and other forms of trauma. Throughout the Twin Cities, Tubman provides safe shelter, housing, legal services, counseling, youth programming, violence prevention, community education, and other wraparound services.”

St. Mary’s Cemetery

Just a couple of blocks away is another organization offering hope and healing, the Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance, or MOCA. They are celebrating 25 years of education, support, and direct service this year at their annual “Black, White and Teal Gala.” (The color teal represents ovarian cancer awareness.) The gala is on Saturday, April 13, at Quincy Hall in Minneapolis and you can still purchase tickets via their website, mnovarian.org.
St. Mary’s Cemetery at 4403 Chicago Ave. is one of the Catholic Cemeteries in Minnesota. The others are located in St. Paul, New Hope, Mendota Heights and Northeast Minneapolis. Although not the oldest of the Catholic Cemeteries in the Twin Cities, St. Mary’s is one of the oldest

Baltazar Cardoso, head caretaker at St. Mary’s Cemetery

institutions in South Minneapolis, having been founded in 1873. St. Mary’s includes a “Caretaker’s Garden” on its grounds where the caretaker grows peppers and tomatoes, which neighbors and visitors are free to harvest in season. Currently, they serve a lot of Latino families, and the Memorial Day Mass this year will be in both Spanish and English, on Monday, May 27, 10 to 11 a.m.

Recreation, entertainment and dining

The Parkway Theater presents both classic films and live music entertainment, as well as occasional live comedy presentations. Sometimes these forms are combined. For instance, they have series on various themes where a film and a short music show or a film and a trivia contest are combined. Or the impossible-to-describe “Scream it off Screen” shows. Lately they are also branching out into author talks and storytelling shows, which are proving popular. I am forcing myself to pick just ONE of these amazing shows to share. I’m going with the Friday, April 26, performance by the Skatalites, inventors of the ska music genre, who will play at the Parkway as part of their 60th anniversary tour, with the local ska band The Prizefighters opening. Doors at 7, music at 8.

Biga pizza and N/A beer from Germany

I finally visited Pizza Biga. In looking up their hours on the internet, I encountered the following search result title: Which is better, a biga or a poolish? What the heck? I consider myself a foodie, but I had never heard of either of those. And had no idea what it had to do with pizza. Well, it turns out that these are two types of what are called “pre-ferments,” and the two other main ones, sourdough and sponge, I had heard of. Biga pre-fermentation is preferred for pizza because of the way it brings out a nutty flavor from the grain and a chewy texture in the finished crust. So now you know. I liked Pizza Biga a lot, and I never did find out if they use a biga to make the dough; my server had no idea, and the baker was too busy. But that crust is mighty tasty, so probably yes.
Creekside Supper Club’s good reputation is growing. Although a supper club is never going to win a James Beard award (why not?) Creekside has appeared on many “best of” lists for such categories as brunch (which they now serve), classic cocktails, or good date night places. Their popovers and their relish tray are particularly recommended. One of the cheekiest things they have there is a cigarette machine in the entry vestibule. I had forgotten those things ever existed.

Stirling Castle Vintage

Retail

I also was able to visit CannaJoyMN recently, where one of the friendly and knowledgeable co-owners recommended some non-THC gummies that are half CBD and half CBN to help with insomnia. CannaJoy carries a wide variety of weed products, including its premium marijuana seed bank and Minnesota-grown hemp and THC products, as well as offering classes and community events. Just one example is their “Bake and Wake Yoga” Sunday morning class held on multiple dates (the next one will be on April 14), billed as a “chill yoga flow class that induces you to ganja plant medicine.” Check out their website at www.cannajoymn.com for more details and to browse their online shop.
Stirling Castle Vintage, the vintage clothing, accessories and tchotchkes place I mentioned last fall before it opened, is open now. But it is only open on weekends, and not every weekend. The deal is you have to follow them on social media, unless you want to just chance it. Go to the Stirling Castle Vintage Facebook page on any Wednesday and it will tell you the hours for the upcoming weekend and where they’ll be “popping up” if they’re not there.

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