Pasta bar to open in Dinkytown location

by Peter Frost

After more than four months of negotiating, Jason McLean — the owner of the acclaimed Loring Cafe in Minneapolis — purchased the old Gray’s Campus Drug building in Dinkytown where he has begun preparations for his new restaurant, The Loring Dinkytown Pasta Bar.
The cafe’s doors will open sometime before May at its location opposite the Purple Onion Cafe on 14th Avenue Southeast.
McLean bought the building from a private party through Coldwell Banker Burnett for an undisclosed amount Tuesday. The building was originally listed for about $900,000.
“Right now, we’re starting to gut and rebuild the whole interior of the building,” McLean said.
When finished, the restaurant’s eating area will span the building’s two floors and feature a 500 square-foot mezzanine overlooking 14th Avenue Southeast.
McLean said he also plans to have a lounge area and a full bar, assuming the Dinkytown Business Association will approve his request for a liquor license.
A nightly music schedule is also in the works.
The restaurant’s interior will be fashioned after the Loring Cafe’s ornate decor, with a variety of tables and booths with eccentric design touches.
The menu will be Mediterranean-based and include pastas, salads and items borrowed from the Loring’s menu. But unlike the Loring, which offers a rotating menu of five or six main entrees, the Pasta Bar will present a traditional menu with a fixed list of entrees.
Lunches and dinners will range from $4 to $12.
It had been rumored that McLean would purchase the Gray’s Campus Drug building since summer, but it wasn’t made official until Wednesday.
Clark Miller, the realtor who brokered the deal, said it’s routine for real-estate purchases to drag on for months, or longer.
“Our four months was not an extremely long period of time. This morning, I worked on the finances of a deal that has taken 18 months,” Miller said.

Peter Frost welcomes comments at [email protected].