Midtown World Market ‘Don’t Give Up’, Set to Expand Cultural Diversity


Over the next several years, the Midtown Global Market will add an Ancient Grains Culinary Center, an Indigenous Professional Kitchen and Training Center, and a beauty node for a new nail salon, barber shop, and hair salon.

It’s all part of a renovation plan to make the market – in many ways the epicenter of Lake Street’s vibrant and diverse entrepreneurial scene – a viable operation for another 15 years.

Like the Lake Street commercial thoroughfare as a whole, the market has been heavily impacted by COVID-19 and the riots following the murder of George Floyd. The market inside the Midtown Exchange building is still operating at only 50% capacity and has lost several tenants.

The renovation projects, when complete, will help drive traffic to the marketplace “so we can get back to sustainability and businesses can bring those sales back to where they’re more profitable,” said Renay Dossman, president of the Neighborhood. Development Center, which owns the market along with the Cultural Wellness Center.

“We’re not giving up,” Dossman said. “We’re going to try everything in our power. We believe in this community. We believe in the resilience and the spirit of this community.”

Several business and property owners have announced multimillion-dollar renovation projects over the past six months to rebuild Minneapolis’ south economic corridor badly damaged in the wake of Floyd’s murder.

It will cost around $250 million to restore Lake Street, according to the Lake Street Council. However, the several multi-million dollar projects will make the region even more diverse than before the pandemic and the riots, stakeholders say. They combine restaurants, elements of economic and labor development, cultural facilities and even housing.

For example, the 14,000 square foot Center for Peace and Social Justice planned for 27 and Lake streets will house a rebuilt Gandhi Mahal Indian restaurant with a theater, coworking and incubation space, food bank and plaza. public.

At Lake Street and Nicollet Avenue, the site of a former Wells Fargo branch that was destroyed during the riots will become a 110-unit affordable housing complex and small business center planned in the nonprofit Project for Pride in Living.

Inside the scheme

In Midtown, the Indigenous Food Lab, created by North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems, is slated to open this spring. The $800,000 beauty node is expected to be completed by the end of the year in the southwest corner of the market.

The Neighborhood Development Center (NDC) is close to meeting its goal of raising $2.3 million, which would help pay for the beauty knot, as well as rent and tenant subsidies, Dossman said.

Although not complete in the near future, the NDC also plans to renovate storage space and a conference room in the market’s 20,000 square foot basement to make way for more merchant offices and of production or execution spaces.

The center is also working with Allina Health, headquartered at Midtown Exchange, to hopefully redevelop a large space that used to be part of the Allina Health Commons, according to an Allina Health spokesperson. On the table is a public fitness center or gym or more office and production space for neighborhood entrepreneurs.

The nonprofit health system also plans to open the Allina Health Recruitment Center on the first floor of Midtown Commons, where interviews and job fairs can be held.

Develop nutrition culturally

The Cultural Wellness Center will open the Ancient Grains Culinary Center in partnership with the University of Minnesota’s Department of Food Science and Nutrition. The idea is to study how to infuse ancient African grains into healthy meals for people in the Twin Cities, especially African Americans. U students will study the composition and nutritional benefits of grains and work with African American chefs to incorporate these ingredients.

A large area on the ground floor of the Global Market, which was previously the site of former restaurants, is being renovated for the kitchen, which will be called Culinary Heritage, said Atum Azzahir, executive director of the Cultural Wellness Center. .

Chefs are expected to demonstrate and teach attendees how to incorporate ancient grains into their diets. The organization will also deliver these meals to the elderly, Azzahir said.

The introduction of culture-based ancient whole grains by African American chefs into the community will build on the success of the Community Health Hub, an initiative launched in 2008 through a partnership between Allina Health and Cultural Wellness Center, said Azzahir.

In 2019, more than 3,000 people participated in community health center activities, such as walking, aerobics, meditation and yoga, with 85% of people engaging in health activities at least six times a month.

“With the kitchen, we will focus on neighborhood nutrition and how we provide and support and start to link food to culture and to link food to health and to link food to community engagement,” she said.

Robert Taylor, son of Azzahir and Executive Chef of Culinary Heritage, and owner of Dreamland Co-Cafe, will work with CWC to develop educational materials for in-person and virtual training resources for guest chefs. There will also be tastings and cooking demonstrations, Taylor said.

“The market needs something new, new energy,” Taylor said.

Culinary Heritage, which the Cultural Wellness Center has been working on for more than a year, is scheduled to open in March. After the social unrest following Floyd’s murder, the organization received a large anonymous donation. These funds are being used for this renovation and “amplifying and strengthening community health center and nutrition work,” Azzahir said.

in the right direction

A few merchants in the Midtown World Market welcome upgrades and changes to generate more sales.

Anthony Simmons and his partners opened Soul To Soul BBQ in the market in January 2021. The market not only serves as an incubator for start-ups, but also serves as a dining and shopping venue for nearby residents, Simmons said. .

“It’s an important part of the community, and a lot of people in the community support this place,” he said.

Manny Gonzalez, owner of Manny’s Tortas, has had his restaurant at Global Market since 2006.

Like Simmons, Gonzalez said the existence of the market is about more than transactions. It attracts people who follow food trends, tourists and even celebrity chefs.

“We have to innovate,” Gonzalez said. “We have to make this market more attractive.”

Gonzalez would like to see more street signage and advertising to attract customers, and a bookstore or newsstand inside the market.

“It’s a very magnetic place,” he said. “That’s why we have to keep this place.”


About Author

Comments are closed.