Arrival of new businesses draws more traffic to Southeast Como

As new businesses move into the area, the neighborhood has seen a notable increase in visitors.

People walk outside restaurants along Como Avenue on Wednesday, Feb. 14.

Maddy Fox

People walk outside restaurants along Como Avenue on Wednesday, Feb. 14.

Kassidy Tarala

Southeast Como residents have noticed a spike in neighborhood traffic with the arrival of new businesses.

While longtime favorites like Black Coffee and Waffle Bar and Manning’s continue to serve residents, new restaurants like Blue Door Pub and Ramen Kazama are quickly piling in.

Southeast Como Improvement Association Executive Director Cody Olson said the neighborhood has seen more investment with the addition of new business and housing developments.

“We’ve seen a renewed interest in the area, especially after the CPM apartments and new retail like Blue Door Pub came in,” he said.

Olson said there has been renewed interest in other areas of Como, too. The Bunge Tower is being considered for a potential new apartment building, an old neighborhood church could be renovated into an arts center and a trucking company is planning to move into one of the neighborhood’s industrial spaces.

“We’ve seen a lot of positive changes in the area since Blue Door moved in. It seems to be pretty well-liked by customers, and homeowners and student renters also seem pleased with it,” Olson said.

Though Blue Door Pub brings more visitors to the neighborhood, Olson said they’ve received no complaints about the traffic or noise.

Blue Door Pub Assistant General Manager Sarah Scott said the restaurant has been well-received by the neighborhood.

“Business is going great, and we’re really happy to be here in the community and see changes going on like Ramen Kazama coming in,” she said. Blue Door Pub is holding events to boost its community outreach, Scott said, like trivia every Monday and Tuesday night, partnerships and fish fry events. 

“Last year, we partnered with Minnesota United to do promotions, so we’re looking forward to doing more partnerships with people in the area,” she said.

Ramen Kazama is another new restaurant in the neighborhood which has contributed to increased neighborhood traffic.

Ramen Kazama General Manager Joel Gomez said the restaurant had a steady customer base built in from its other locations, which has carried over to the new Como location.

“We’ve been having steady business. It’s usually a mix of locals and longtime residents as well as some of our built-in customer base,” he said.

Students and longtime residents have stopped in for a meal at the new restaurant since its opening, Gomez said.

The addition of Ramen Kazama and Blue Door Pub has also contributed to a spike in traffic for older Southeast Como establishments.

Black Coffee and Waffle Bar manager Katie Essler said she hasn’t noticed much of an effect on sales, but there has been a noticeable increase in foot-traffic.

“There’s definitely a different crowd of people, especially now that there’s a bar in the area,” she said.

Essler said the increase in competing restaurants hasn’t driven away any of their customer base, so she’s ready to welcome more new businesses to the area.

“I think that the area will continue to change and continue down the same path it’s headed with new businesses,” she said. “The new apartment building going in will definitely bring more traffic, too.”

While Southeast Como has seen some turnover, Olson said longtime businesses like Black Coffee and Waffle Bar show that businesses in the neighborhood typically have long lifespans.

“There’s been a noticeable increase in traffic, which I think has benefited all business, old and new,” Olson said. “I think the combination of older and newer businesses is exciting for residents and brings in a lot more visitors than ever before.”