Loring Pasta Bar attracts business to Dinkytown

by Latasha Webb

Dinkytown businesses appreciate the clientele and busier weekend nights the Loring Pasta Bar has brought to the area since its March 6 grand opening.

Annie’s Parlor general manager Barbara Thomsen said although Annie’s had always had a lot of customers, it has been patronized more on weekends.

“In fact, I talked to some people last week who said they hadn’t been to Dinkytown in 10 years,” she said. The customers told Thomsen they had heard of the Loring and came to Dinkytown to see it.

“And before they went to the Loring, they came here and they said they’d be stopping by other shops in the area,” she said.

Other business managers said they haven’t seen much difference.

“Nothing’s changed,” said Camdi general manager Kiet Phan.

On the other hand, Espresso Royale store manager Patrick Sayler said his business has picked up.

“I would say our night business has picked up by a small fraction, say 5 percent,” Sayler said.

He said he has seen more people, especially business people, in Dinkytown.

“The clientele has changed. Instead of just students getting coffee and studying, we have more business types, older people coming in for cookies and coffee after dinner at the Loring,” he said.

Sayler also said the atmosphere of Dinkytown has become more lively.

“Dinkytown was a bit slower, more boring when the drugstore was there,” he said.

But Loring owner Jason McLean has a vision for more.

Creating the Loring involved a 16-month remodeling project. When it was finished, McLean said the building fit his desired image of a flexible, casual and free space.

After only eight months of business, McLean is considering some changes to further improve the space.

McLean has brainstormed several possibilities for the Red Room, located upstairs on the south side of the building, next to the smoking section.

He said one possibility for the Red Room, currently a party room, is to put in a large screen for viewing movies.

“We can show anything from vintage movies to Vikings games,” McLean said.

He said installing iMacs is also a consideration.

“We already have Internet connections at every booth. It’s a flexible space,” he said.

McLean said he hasn’t put a timetable on the renovation, and it might be a year or two before the project is complete.

Kelly Otterstedt, a waitress at the Loring, said she would like to see more college students coming in on weekdays and that McLean’s ideas for the Red Room might make a difference.

“We kind of expected more students to come in during the afternoon hours to drink coffee, but it’s not really happening,” she said.

But that doesn’t mean University students don’t patronize the Loring. Otterstedt said students are usually the biggest customers on weekends.

“Weekends are very busy. Sometimes we have up to a two-hour wait,” she said.

McLean said he’s never tried to draw certain groups to the restaurant, but he’s glad it has been so successful.

“It appeals to college students, to professors and to the community at large,” he said. “That’s great.”


Latasha Webb welcomes comments at [email protected]