Summer in St. Paul’s Highland Park

Assembly Union Park, aerial shot


Highland Bridge status check-in

I started writing the July articles on Highland Park in 2016, so this marks our ninth piece summarizing the year’s news on this St. Paul neighborhood. In 2016, we noted the impact of automobiles and the Ford plant on Highland Park’s development. At that time, the plant had only been fully closed for five years. The development of what came to be Highland Bridge was in the early planning stage. In 2017, we made an appeal for planners to think beyond today’s car-dominated world and plan for a post-car future, all in the context of the debates then raging about the future of this site. In 2019, we gave it a rest, and covered the Highland Festival.
In 2020, we were concentrating on telling people what was closed or open and how to find resources to get through that uniquely stressful year, but paused to note the development now had a name: Highland Bridge. From 2021 to 2023, updates were a big part of the piece, because things started happening very fast. Since 2023 there have been articles in other local publications claiming that development of private residential units at Highland Bridge has stalled.
Although that might be true, there are still positive developments to report in the subsidized housing development and the parks and other common areas. All three subsidized developments mentioned in 2023’s piece are complete and open: Lumen, an affordable senior rental project; Project for Pride in Living’s Restoring Waters, a joint project with Emma Norton, which also houses Emma Norton’s new head office; and PPL’s Nellie Francis Court. The market-rate senior complex Marvella has proved so popular they are planning on opening another one of the same size.
All four of the parks appear to be complete and some have some added amenities. Assembly Union Pickleball is open in the park that was named to commemorate the auto workers’ union. Another recreation area has appeared on the map since last year, the Ford Little League Field on the northwestern corner of Cleveland and Montreal Aves, just outside Hidden Falls Regional Park.

Cecil and Faye Glickman of Cecil’s Deli

Food and drink in Highland Park

Highland Park is home to the oldest deli in the Twin Cities. Cecil’s Deli (651 Cleveland Ave.) has been in business since Cecil and Faye Glickman opened it on July 1, 1949. They ran the deli with most of the family working there, until 1980, when they sold it to their daughter and son-in-law, Sheila and David Leventhal. As noted in the March 2024 “The Dish,” David Leventhal passed away in February of this year, and Sheila continues to run the deli with the help of various family members. Cecil’s frequently wins “best of” awards, including in 2019 when they won “Best Chicken Soup in Minnesota.”
Right across Cleveland Avenue is Sakana Sushi and Bistro (740 Cleveland Ave S.), which has been here since 2009, with a second location in Wayzata. Sakana has a very extensive menu, including 23 varieties of á la carte sushi, and 46 combination rolls and maki. They have other Asian favorites like pad Thai, fried rice, noodle dishes and soups, salads, poke, Kung Pao steak and hot or cold appetizers.

Boulangerie Marguerite owners Francois and Melissa

Next door to Sakana is Centro Highland Park (750 Cleveland Ave. S.), one of the newest eateries in Highland Park. Centro is very popular, with tacos and other Mexican favorites with vegetarian options on one menu, and a second menu for their sister restaurant, EveryWhen Burger Bar. Centro serves beer, wine, cocktails, a THC seltzer and lots of NA drinks, including Mexican favorites like horchata, jamaica and Mexican sodas.
Randolph Avenue is home to many food and drink outlets. The very popular bakery cafe Boulangerie Marguerite (1279 Randolph) is in a building that has housed several family-run bakeries since 1921. When the current owners Francois and Melissa Kiemde bought the business in 2017 they changed the name, honoring Burkina Faso-born Francois’s French tradition of baking, and their young daughter Marguerite. It has proved so successful that a second location in Northeast Minneapolis opened in 2023.
Also nearby is Potsticker (1214 Randolph), a unique type of Asian restaurant. The owner, Angie, explains: “I’ve always believed that potstickers have been overlooked in the United States. They’ve become a frozen appetizer and that’s just not good enough. After 30 years in the United States, I decided to do something about it. I grew up with potstickers enjoyed as a main course. People would go out to eat just for potstickers! I wanted to bring that culture here.” Nevertheless, they do have other things besides potstickers.

Retail businesses in Highland Park

Wild Birds Unlimited is a delightfully different kind of shop, serving a very niche interest and trying to make it less niche. That would be basically feeding and providing healthy environments for wild birds while observing them. Did you know that you can get your own garden, yard, balcony or work landscape certified as a wild bird habitat? Inquire at Wild Birds.
Half Price Books (2041 Ford Parkway) would be one of my favorite places to shop if I still bought books. Since I am in the getting-rid-of-stuff phase of life, I now sell books to Half Price Books. You don’t get a lot of money, but they make the process very painless and even kind of fun. Half Price Books in the Twin Cities and a few other locations have unionized under the United Food and Commercial Workers, and they just ratified a great new contract a couple of months ago. Support union businesses!
Wandering Leaf Brewing (2463 7th St. W.), located in Sibley Plaza, is a micro-brewery that evolved from a small group of home-brewing friends’ passion for excellent ale. They have all the trappings of a destination brewpub: trivia games, other events, rotating food trucks and a calendar on their website to keep track of all that.

Highland Park Library

Community resources

Besides all the parks in Highland Park (and there are many) this neighborhood contains lots of other resources for learning, leisure and health. One of these is Highland Catholic School, a premier Catholic school known for academic excellence. In addition to the basics, for pre-K through grade 8, they offer programs in Spanish, technology, and music as well as summer camps. They are affiliated with the Lumen Christi Catholic Community and offer discounted tuition for parishioners, as well as scholarships as needed.
We’ll finish with the Highland Park Public Library (1974 Ford Parkway). The building, a major renovation in 2014, is shared with the Highland Park Recreation Center. This library is an absolute delight, with bright, innovative spaces, the latest technology and great community events. It’s open from 10 a.m. seven days a week, closing at 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 5 p.m. on Sunday.

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