The Mill: Hotels, restaurants, and distillery anchor downtown Stillwater revitalization

Downtown Stillwater // Photo courtesy Discover Stillwater

Downtown Stillwater // Photo courtesy of Discover Stillwater

Downtown Stillwater has seen some massive changes since the old lift bridge closed last summer, rerouting traffic to a spiffy new interstate bridge down the St. Croix in Oak Park Heights. With less congested downtown streets has come an influx of new restaurants, bars, and two boutique hotels bookending the historic river town. Both hotels, Lora on the south end of Main Street, in the Joseph Wolf Brewery complex, and The Crosby, on North Main Street, are set to open this year, both with their own restaurants.

The most novel development though is the city’s first distillery, slated to open in the old Gaalaas Jewelers building on the south end of Main Street, under the direction of the owners of LoLo American Kitchen.

“We’ll have handcrafted vodkas, gins, really good whiskey,” LoLo’s Joe Ehlenz stated to the Pioneer Press. “They’ll be made the way God intended.”

In addition to these new constructions, downtown has also seen turnover in established spaces. Pub 112 is undergoing a transformation into Pearl & the Thief (a new Southern dining concept from LoLo American Kitchen owners), Brick & Bourbon opened in the former Green Room space in late January, and the iconic Brine’s Bar & Restaurant will be replaced with a new bar and restaurant. The massive Smalley’s Caribbean Barbeque space is still vacant, though Shawn Smalley is running the kitchen at the new Portside (formerly Rafters).


The barrels Indeed Brewing Company uses for their Whiskey Queen Imperial Stout // Photo courtesy Indeed Brewing Company

The barrels Indeed Brewing Company uses for their Whiskey Queen Imperial Stout // Photo courtesy Indeed Brewing Company

Indeed Brewing’s experimental barrel-aged program was announced in conjunction with the release of Whiskey Queen, their imperial stout aged in whiskey barrels. The new program will start by aging some of Indeed’s existing beers for an extended period, but the brewery expects the direction to change over time. Indeed has played around with barrel-aging over the last few years, utilizing barrels for their Wooden Soul series of wild and sour beers, as well as the annual aging of its two barrel-aged imperial stouts.

Surly Brewing is collaborating with First Avenue to make +1 Golden Ale, a special beer exclusive to the venue. The low-ABV ale, to be released at First Ave later this month, is highly drinkable with subtle hop flavor, but light enough to knock back a few while milling about in a crowd. The beer will be available only at the venue from March 22 to April 1, after which it will be hitting stores.

Though the owners have declined to comment, a Union Park District Council newsletter released Wednesday revealed that St. Paul’s O’Gara’s may be in for some major changes. The owner of the 77-year-old bar is in talks with a developer to bulldoze the current building, replacing it with apartments and a smaller O’Gara’s on the ground floor. The developer, Ryan Companies, is responsible for the apartment/Whole Foods project just across the street on Snelling and Selby, though this project would be smaller in scale.

It was announced last week that NorthGate Brewing is closed, effective immediately. This comes just months after the brewery’s founders were in the process of selling to Tod Fyten. In a statement to City Pages, Tod Fyten said the deal fell through after he was “unable to come to an agreement with the owners to purchase the brewery.”

In the coming months, passengers on Sun Country Airlines will once again be able to order a nice, cold, in-flight can of Surly Furious. The popular IPA, which disappeared from flight drink menus, is making a comeback by popular demand.


The ordering stations and deli counter inside The Herbivorous Butcher in NE Minneapolis // Photo via the Herbivorous Butcher Facebook

The ordering stations and deli counter inside The Herbivorous Butcher in NE Minneapolis // Photo via the Herbivorous Butcher’s Facebook

Herbivorous Butcher, the wildly popular vegan “butcher” shop in Northeast Minneapolis, will be hitting the streets this summer in its very own food truck. The sister-brother duo behind the oxymoronic concept opened their doors in 2016, and purchased their truck last fall. Before hitting the Twin Cities streets though, they’ll break it in by hitting the road for two “very big events” on the West Coast in April and May.

Open for just a year on Aldine Street in St. Paul, Eureka Compass Vegan Food is closing its first location to make way for bigger and better offerings in the downtown skyway. Chef and owner Colin Anderson has partnered with Evan’s Organic Eatery, a popular skyway lunch stop, to help them transition to a fully vegan menu. And it doesn’t stop there—taking the place of the Aldine Street location will be a vegan pizza delivery shop also run by Anderson, with a vegan grocer replacing the indoor seating area. If you’re considering dabbling in the vegan arts, now’s the time.

Tori Ramen’s new spot in north Minneapolis officially has a name and tentative opening date. The second location, taking the previous Victory 44 space, will be named Tori 44, in homage to its highly regarded predecessor. Co-owner Jason Dorweiler says that they’re shooting for an April 1 opening date.


Photo via The Children's Theatre Company's Facebook

Photo via The Children’s Theatre Company’s Facebook

As a part of the $25 million approved for this year’s grants, the National Endowment for the Arts has approved an Art Works grant of $75,000 for the Children’s Theatre Company. The grant will go toward the production of three new shows, including a production of “Corduroy” to premier in March as well as two new commissions.

Soundset has announced perhaps their biggest lineup yet for this year’s fest, to take place at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds May 27. At the top of the bill is none other than hip-hop legends Wu-Tang Clan; R&B queen Erykah Badu; rap trio Migos; rapper Logic; Tyler, The Creator; and of course, local underground heros Atmosphere. Other local favorites to grace the fest are deM atlaS, the Lioness, Prof, and the new Lazerbeak/Paper Tiger, Sick Trim.

After a 13-year run, the Ivey Awards are calling it quits. The awards show has been held annually since 2005 to celebrate and bring awareness to professional theater across the Twin Cities. In a statement, board president Fran Davis said, “We are proud of the great run the Ivey Awards has had for the past 13 years, though just like a production playing to sold-out crowds, sometimes good things come to an end. Therefore, after very careful thought and consideration, the Ivey Awards is ending its run.”

Charges have been filed by Ramsey County against a mother and son in the case of the hit-and-run that resulted in the death of Jose Hernandez Solano, who was biking home from Brasa, where he worked in the kitchen. Abbey Rose Hegner, 47 and Dustin Joel Hegner Royce, 28, were arrested under suspicion following the incident, but released soon after. Hernandez Solano’s body was returned to his native Mexico for a family burial.

The Mill is The Growler’s regular digest of all things new and notable in the world of food, drink, and culture. Stop back weekly for restaurant news, brewery rumors, and more. Have some news you want to share? Got some gossip to dish? Drop us a line at [email protected]