Neighborhood gets ready for new stadium

The newest restaurant in Stadium Village, opening Feb. 1, will specialize in chicken.

Kelly Gulbrandson

With the TCF Bank stadium opening in 2009 and the possible light-rail line on Washington Avenue, renovations to Stadium Village have some neighborhood business owners excited for the future.

Raising Cane\’s, the last place to open in the renovated Stadium Village Mall, opens Feb. 1 and will serve only chicken meals. Kerry Kramp, co-owner of Raising Cane\’s, said instead of having a broad menu, the store spotlights one main item.

“We have one love and that\’s the chicken fingers with the special cane sauce,” he said.

Kramp said students will be able to eat in the restaurant or on-the-go.

He said he searched for almost a year to find the right spot, since the chain has many locations in college neighborhoods. The mall\’s unique character and feel – modern, while keeping some nostalgic aspects – were a few reasons he said he and his partner chose Stadium Village.

With the restaurant\’s close proximity to the new stadium, Kramp said he hopes it will be beneficial to Gophers fans and plans on hosting tailgating activities for home games.

The restaurant will also offer students the chance to see Gophers sports throughout the year on the Big Ten Network, he said, and he “can\’t wait” to open.

“We think we are in the perfect location for students who are headed off to class or looking for a place to hang out at night,” Kramp said.

Nancy Rose Pribyl, president of the Stadium Village Commercial Association, said the renovation is “an exciting time for the community.” She said the prospect of the stadium was a great opportunity for renovation to one of the University\’s oldest neighborhoods.

Even though Rose Pribyl said she hasn\’t received a lot of feedback from people in the community about Stadium Village\’s changing face, the commercial association is planning to develop a specific focus for the renovation, and to receive more feedback.

First-year math student Adam Werner said he has noticed that much of the neighborhood has modernized recently.

“That\’s what happens with globalization,” he said, “I think it\’s good for the University to make this change in order to be considered one of the top three research universities.”

Justin Zavadil, owner of Stadium Village Mall, said he bought the building two years ago and has been working on the renovations for the past year.

“Our goal was to get the whole place leased up,” he said, which happened when Raising Cane\’s leased the last space.

Zavadil, who is also co-owner of Stub and Herbs, said while he likes to keep busy, there are no future projects planned.

During all the renovations, he said the only challenges he faced were minor noise problems “which happens with all construction,” and that he hasn\’t heard any complaints from the residents of the mall.

Nick Nguyen, co-owner of The Tea Garden, a newer restaurant that specializes in different types of tea, said he is pleased with the restaurant\’s location.

“We are busier than we ever expected to be,” Nguyen said.

However, weekends are slower than expected, which he said is normal for most businesses.

While some people believe the renovations have brought more business to other area businesses, not all feel that way.

Rusty Jonas, assistant manager of Sally\’s Saloon and Eatery, said the restaurant hasn\’t experienced an increase in customers since the neighborhood\’s renovation began.

Jonas said even though the number of customers at Sally\’s hasn\’t increased, he is excited about the stadium coming into the area.

“I think in general anything that brings more people to this side of campus as opposed to Dinkytown is a good thing,” he said.

Rose Pribyl said she can\’t exactly gauge the renovation\’s success, although she is pleased with it.

“Change can be good and as long as we retain some independent and local ownership the community can continue to thrive,” she said.