Student creates Web site to put Dinkytown ‘on the map’

The site has been averaging about 50 hits per day without having any advertising.

Amber Kispert

Dinkytown is home to some of the Twin Cities’ best-kept secrets: Al’s Breakfast, Bobaboca Tea and Café, and Duffy’s Dinkytown Pizza.

A University student has taken it upon himself to create a resource that shows everything that Dinkytown has to offer.

on the web

For more information about restaurants, shopping, and entertainment all in the Dinkytown area, go to www.dinkytownminneapolis.com.

In January, Tyler Larson, a marketing, strategic communication and Web design senior, launched Dinkytown, Minneapolis – a one-stop Web site for Dinkytown visitors.

“I want to put it on the map as far as Minneapolis goes,” he said. “I really wanted it to look and feel like Dinkytown.”

The information on the Web site includes restaurant listings, Dinkytown services and shopping, directions to the neighborhood, parking information, and entertainment options.

Larson started working on the Web site last summer when he was taking an independent study course in Web design.

He lived in Dinkytown at the time, and said he was frustrated with not knowing where anything was located.

Larson knew he would need help from Dinkytown businesses. That’s where Skott Johnson, president of the Dinkytown Business Association, came into the picture.

“We did have a site before and it sort of fell by the wayside,” Johnson said. “Tyler seems to be pretty smart about the whole thing.”

Dinkytown businesses have been willing to work with Larson because he’s approachable, Johnson said.

“We don’t have any big corporations here,” he said. “We’re mom-and-pop shops.”

Even though the site has been active for a few weeks now, Larson said it will never really be finished.

Additions to the site could include putting up rental information for anyone looking for a place to live in Dinkytown, he said.

Larson’s biggest concern is how he’s going to get his Web site known, he said.

“I really don’t force it on anybody,” he said. “Just by word of mouth it’s doing better than I had expected.”

Currently, an average of 50 people visit the site each day.

“I’m impressed that for a site that isn’t even advertised, students are finding it,” Johnson said.

There is some hope for Larson, because the popular drink specials Web site, Thrifty Hipster, had humble beginnings at the University as well.

Matt Dowgwillo, marketing director for Local Hipster LLC, was one of the principal architects.

“The biggest foundation for us starting out was relying on friends to help us get our name out,” he said.

Thrifty Hipster now has between 3,000 and 6,000 views daily.

“One reason that we have been so successful is that we don’t look at anyone as competition,” he said.

Larson said he would rather keep his site as more of a “community site.”

“I really don’t want to out-step those bounds and commercialize it too much,” he said.

Dowgwillo said he thinks Larson has hit his goal of capturing the feel of Dinkytown.

“It looks like it totally embodies the style,” he said. “It looks like it was done in Dinkytown.”

Larson said he will continue to work on the site and get the Dinkytown name out.

“There is just something about that community,” he said. “You go through college and really start to love that area.”