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Food court-style dining coming to Dinkytown

University Food Court will open 10 restaurants in August and seat around 270 people.
A new food court will be built at the food court at 330 15th Ave SE.
Image by Courtesy of Yama Zhong
A new food court will be built at the food court at 330 15th Ave SE.

A food court opening in Dinkytown this summer will bring 10 new restaurants to the area.

The location for University Food Court at 330 15th Ave. SE is currently undergoing demolitions, but restaurant owners who eventually lease the space can begin moving in around late January said Yama Zhong, who will manage the property after it opens in August. A definitive list of vendors won’t be revealed until May, but Zhong said it will include Korean fried chicken, bubble tea, hot pot, poke, cheese steak and ice cream.

While not all 10 restaurants have been decided, Zhong said there isn’t a specific type of restaurant that they are looking for.

“We just want to see, what’s the idea, what kind of food they are [proposing],” Zhong said. 

Zhong said developers want to consider restaurants that might be new to Minnesota or have new or trendy foods, like poke.

Lanzhou Ramen 107, which does not have any locations in Minnesota, will be one of the restaurants. The food court will seat about 270 people. 

Dinkytown currently has several bubble tea locations, including Chatime and Kung Fu Tea, and Korean fried chicken restaurant Bonchon is expected to open in late December. But Zhong said she isn’t concerned about competition due to the layout of the food court. 

“We just don’t want our competition inside of this food court,” Zhong said. “It’s a food court. Students come in and they eat, they have lots of choices.”

Dinkytown Qdoba owner and former Dinkytown Business Alliance President Randal Gast said it will be a challenge for the food court to open businesses similar to those that already exist in Dinkytown.

“The ramen noodle [restaurant]? Right down the street. Ice cream? Right down the street. Korean barbecue? Now we’ll have three of them,” Gast said. “I’m surprised that anybody would take that type of risk, but there are business people that take risks all the time and everybody can do what they want.”

University of Minnesota student Dylan Tatham said competition might just come down to customer loyalty and preferences.

“I personally think it would be kind of nice, but I also think that there’s already so many options in Dinkytown that I don’t know if it would be almost redundant,” Tatham said. “I guess it would kind of come down to if the food court itself became a better option than what’s already elsewhere in Dinkytown.”

Tatham said she is interested in seeing the food court offer quick snack foods.

“It’s kind of like getting ice cream with your friends or something like that,” Tatham said. “Because I think that’s one thing that Dinkytown is lacking, is stuff that you can just kind of do quickly and easily and not have to get a whole meal for.”

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