Coffee shop, bakery to replace Manning’s restaurant in St. Paul

Tom Ford

The space formerly occupied by Manning’s in the Park restaurant in St. Paul will re-open with new tenants in September after a disagreement between the restaurant’s owner and building management closed Manning’s doors.

A Dunn Bros. coffee shop and Taste of Scandinavia Bakery and Deli will open Sept. 15 after the building on 2264 Como Ave. is renovated.

The site has been vacant since April, when Manning’s closed because it could not reach an agreement on a new lease with the company that manages the building, Wellington Management Inc.

WMI called for major renovations as a stipulation for a new lease proposed in 1995. Restaurant owner Larry Manning agreed to do only minor improvements. Additionally, Manning said the rent in the new lease would more than double – from about $20,000 per year to $48,000 per year. Manning said the increase would force him to turn his profits over to the building’s owner, St. Anthony Real Estate Associates.

WMI president Steve Wellington said the amended lease included renovation costs and would bring rent up to market value.

Wellington said Manning did not want to pay for the upgrades Manning said he thought were unnecessary.

Wellington said the renovations weren’t mandated by the city’s inspection department but were necessary to bring in more money for the tenant.

“It wasn’t prudent for us to allow the restaurant or new owners to let the physical condition of the building run down,” Wellington said.

Manning tried to sell the restaurant when an extension agreement was not reached.

Wellington said none of the restaurant’s prospective buyers had enough capital to pay for the improvements.

The original lease was mutually terminated two months before it was up and the restaraunt closed.

“I would have stayed five or 10 years more,” Manning said.

Manning said he was planning to change the restaurant from an ice cream and malt shop to a beer, wine and onion ring operation – like his other restaurant.

He said he would’ve paid for more limited renovations to make that change.

Manning said he contacted WMI in 1995 about negotiating an extension on the 15-year contract but did not hear back for close to a year, when the company sent him a letter proposing the new lease.

“It was obvious they didn’t want me in there anymore,” Manning said.

Dunn Bros. and Taste of Scandinavia signed the WMI lease in June.

“This is a terrific neighborhood location,” said Dunn Bros. president Chris Eilers.

The coffee shop chain, currently operating 18 Twin Cities locations, has long wanted to open a shop in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood, Eilers said.

Dunn Bros. management began talking with WMI about acquiring the space close to a year ago, Wellington said.

The idea for a joint tenancy with Taste of Scandinavia was proposed last winter.

Wellington said the pair is a better fit for the space, and another restaurant in that space would be a “risky undertaking.”

The bakery offers Dunn Bros. coffee beans at its stores, while the coffee shop sells baked goods from Taste of Scandinavia.

The bakery will relocate from its current Milton Square location across the street.

The new interior will feature wood and tile and traditional Scandinavian architecture, Eilers said.

Also, Wellington said, a new heating and cooling system, two handicap-accessible bathrooms and new windows will be installed. Asbestos tile will be removed.

“This building needed a complete overhaul,” he said.

Wellington said the building is more than 60 years old and has not been renovated since 1975 when Manning’s predecessor, Bridgeman’s, took the space.

Wellington said the improvements will cost around $300,000.

Tom Ford covers the St. Paul campus and welcomes comments at [email protected]