Summer on Franklin Avenue

Replica of Restauration, the original Norwegian immigrant ship from 1825


A lot is happening on Franklin Avenue!

Two major portions of the stretch of Franklin Avenue we cover in Southside Pride are the American Indian Cultural Corridor from Hiawatha Avenue to 11th Avenue and the part that runs through Seward neighborhood, from Cedar Avenue to the entrance of the Franklin Avenue bridge over the Mississippi River. Both of these sections of Franklin have had some big changes and interesting news items.

Minneapolis American Indian Center and other Cultural Corridor news

After a renovation that massively increased its space, took over a year to complete, and cost over $30 million, the Minneapolis American Indian Center (MAIC) held a grand reopening ceremony on May 1. A week before, they had a pre-opening to give tribal and community leaders a more leisurely preview.

Tribal leaders and distinguished guests at MAIC’s pre-opening (Photo/Lee Egerstrom, The Circle News)

MAIC didn’t publish attendance figures, but the photos speak for themselves. There were uncountable hundreds of folks there. Most programs have started already with the reopening, such as exercise programs in the new Frances Fairbanks Memorial Gym and other activities in the Native Fitness and Nutrition (FAN) program, retail sales in the expanded Woodland Indian Crafts gift shop, language classes, a Wednesday Drum and Dance program, youth programs and more. The Two Rivers Art Gallery has reopened as well, and Gatherings Cafe, which has expanded and moved to the street level with a large window onto the avenue, will open June 10.
Mary LaGarde, the executive director of MAIC and a huge driver of the renovation project, was awarded a Critical Collaborator Award from the Environmental Initiative organization. In making the award, they said:
“She oversees a broad range of arts, culture, family, youth, nutrition, and workforce programs at MAIC, and she is currently leading the organization through a top-to-bottom renovation. The project, worth roughly $30 million, includes a solar battery microgrid that will allow the building to have electricity and be a safe space in an emergency. Mary accomplished the extraordinary feat of raising these funds through the

People celebrating the reopening of the Minneapolis American Indian Center (MAIC) on May 1

COVID-19 pandemic.”
In other good news in the Cultural Corridor, the Four Sisters Farmers Market is back for the season. The market is every Thursday from June 6 to Oct. 31 this year, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., at 1414 E. Franklin Ave. There you will find produce, plants, seeds, prepared foods and medicines from Indigenous producers, both individual farmers and organizations like Dream of Wild Health. Also you will find Indigenous artists, authors and crafters of all types selling pottery, mystery novels, quilts and more. The market vendors accept SNAP/EBT and Market Bucks, and most vendors also accept credit and debit cards.

Comings and goings on Franklin Avenue in Seward

Soup for You! Café had operated in the Bethany Lutheran Church building at Franklin and 25th Avenue for a little over 10 years when they were forced to move out due to the sale and planned demolition of the building. On the last day of operation there, May 14, they held a little ceremony led by the “house band,” The Grateful Fed, and marched around the building with sage and music. Soup for You! rose again on the first Monday in June, now

Seward Cafe garden

at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Longfellow (read more about it elsewhere in this edition of Southside Pride).
Seward Cafe is now open for brunch again, after serving as a mutual aid site during the height of the pandemic and then reopening as a coffee shop only. In its latest incarnation, they are serving many of their old favorites, but on a slightly truncated schedule (Thursday through Sunday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.). You will once again find Earth Breakfasts, including Green (with broccoli), Red (with ranchero sauce) and Super (with onions and cheese, now including vegan cheese), VCCPs (iced cold press coffee with vanilla-sweetened cream), and a choice of vegan fluffy pancakes or rich, earthy vegetarian buckwheat pancakes. One of the old traditional things you won’t find is meat.
In 2014, we published a special piece dedicated to Seward Café for its 40th anniversary. That means that this year, right around this time, they will be celebrating their 50th anniversary. It might be interesting to go back and read that to get more of a sense of where they have been and just how important they are in the grand scheme of cooperatives and collectives in the U.S. You can read it here:
A Bar of Their Own is the other big news in Seward. In case you hadn’t heard, the old Tracy’s Saloon space at 2207 E. Franklin Ave., left vacant by the owner’s retirement, has come to life as a sports bar featuring only women’s sports. It has been a phenomenal success!

Four Sisters Farmers Market

Rebecca’s Bakery is also rapidly becoming a neighborhood favorite. I refer you to this month’s edition of The Dish in this paper, where I did a mini-review of it. Just around the corner is Boneshaker Books, a stellar independent bookstore that doesn’t really get enough notice, in my opinion. Their new book stock is curated to leftists and other visionaries, and they also have an excellent selection of children’s books and zines, both local and from beyond the Twin Cities.
The Seward Co-op is one of our favorites. In addition to being a grocery store that’s great to have in the neighborhood, they also are an educational resource. Educational events for the rest of the summer include Microgreens, cooking classes for kids aged 8 to 12, with a parent or guardian. On June 8 at 11 a.m. at the Friendship Store location (317 E. 38th St.), the class will be Spring Rolls. On July 20, at the same time and place, they will make Walking Tacos.
Curry in a Hurry, at 3025 E. Franklin, is the post-George-Floyd incarnation of Gandhi Mahal, which was burned to the ground during the uprising of 2020. They still have the best mango lassi (in my opinion, but I am a food critic, you know) in a town that is obsessed with mango lassis. And their food is very good too, and reasonably priced. All ordering is online for pickup or delivery. However, you can eat at their outdoor seating area with pickup, and as an added incentive, there is live Indian music on Saturday evenings.

Lulu Ethio Vegan Cuisine

Other news and views on Franklin Avenue

Norway House at 913 E. Franklin Ave. turns 20 years old this month! It will be celebrated at their Midtsommer Gala on June 5. But next year is an even more interesting anniversary – that of the first organized migration from Norway to the U.S., which departed on July 4, 1825, with a group of 52 Norwegians. Check out “Crossings” on the Norway House website,, for these and other events.
Lulu Ethio Vegan is a new restaurant located at 12 E. Franklin Ave. As the name suggests, it represents a fusion between two cuisines and two strong communities – Ethiopians in America and vegans. You can read my review of this interesting spot in The Dish from last February, or just try it yourself. In addition to vegan versions of Ethiopian classics like shiro wot and mushroom tibs, they have some interesting Ethiopian-style smoothies that I have yet to try. They have dine-in seating as well as pickup and delivery service.

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