Alma expansion earns city approval

Expansion on the restaurant will include a cafe and six-room hotel.

Restaurant Alma sits next to a space formerly occupied by Dunn Bros on Monday, July 6, 2015.

Christopher Wakefield, Daily File Photo

Restaurant Alma sits next to a space formerly occupied by Dunn Bros on Monday, July 6, 2015.

Benjamin Farniok

After months of navigating municipal processes, an already reputed Marcy-Holmes restaurant will expand to include a small hotel and cafe.
Restaurant Alma’s owner asked the city to rezone the property last summer, but red tape kept the Minneapolis City Council from approving the renovation until last Friday.
Alma, a fine dining restaurant located on University Avenue, often fills up during its evening opening hours, supervisor Elliot Koch said.
The restaurant will convert its space from the 2,000 square feet it currently operates to about 7,500 square feet, adding a new cafe and a six-room hotel on the second floor.
Koch said the existing restaurant is unlikely to see any changes in service but will receive some design 
“We don’t want to change why we’ve done so well for so long,” he said.
The planned cafe could attract younger clientele to the upscale establishment with coffee and breakfast offered earlier in the day, Koch said. When University students dine at Alma, Koch said, it tends to be for “nice dates” or special occasions such as graduations.
Nisarg Desai, a first-year anthropology graduate student, said he would prefer to be able to visit the cafe at night, rather than the restaurant.
“It’s good to have a shop right next door,” he said.
James Dayton Design, a local architecture and design firm that in the past partnered with local restaurant, the Bachelor Farmer, will design Alma’s expansion.
Ward 3 Councilman Jacob Frey said Restaurant Alma is leading a trend of finding multiple uses in commercial spaces. 
“We’ll have small European-style boutique hotel, fancy food as well as a cheaper cafe and coffee shop right next doors,” Frey said, “I love it because it serves everyone.”