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After a Year, Lowertown Restaurant Gets Remodel and More in This Week’s Food News

Tim McKee’s got a new job and there’s drama at a Japanese eatery.

Open rooftop bar with a yellow awning and outdoor seats are all under a rainbow just after a storm
Happier times at OxCart Alehouse
OxCart Alehouse

In an odd turn of events, OxCart Alehouse, the young pub in St. Paul’s Lowertown neighborhood has temporarily shuttered for a refresh with promises of re-opening in the spring. The restaurant is owned by Joe Kasel and Kevin Geisen who also operate the Eagle Street Grill and the also refreshed Fitzgerald’s (nee Salt Cellar) in Cathedral Hill. The duo have partnered with Madison Restaurant Group, whose holdings include nearby Public Kitchen and Handsome Hog. OxCart Alehouse first opened in the summer of 2015.

—The owners of Acqua and Meet Market are expanding into the pizza business. Pi Pizza (we see what you did there) is opening in Forest Lake at 11 a.m. on Wednesday February 8.

Cupcakes from A Taste of Love Bakery.
Taste of Love Bakery for Groupon

A Taste of Love Bakery has announced they are shuttering both locations of the sweet little shop. We’ll miss their delicious doughnuts, adorable cakes and sorely underrated cinnamon rolls. Sunday February 19 will be the final day with a farewell party at the Dodd Road location in West Saint Paul and the Vandailia space has shuttered.

—The James Beard Award winning chef and all around super guy, Tim McKee has made his next career move and it’s actually taking him outside the restaurant and into a fish market. The man who led the restaurant that was the pinnacle of Minneapolis fine dining, La Belle Vie is now exiting the Parasole group for the Fish Guys. McKee had worked with the restaurant company on such hotspots as Libertine and its other restaurants like Chino Latino and more. Now, he’ll be the senior vice president of development for the seafood supplier.

Ramen at Obento-Ya.

—If you’re a fan of Obento-Ya, it might be time to revisit the little bistro and show some love. Over the weekend the owner and a customer had an online back and forth in which the angered patron went on a profanity laced tirade about a disappointing experience. The owner responded, also clearly upset and reached out on the Facebook page asking diners if he should go on. Since the death of his chef and wife, things have been understandably difficult. Seems all are soldiering on, but in these days where established restaurants seem to be often saying goodbye, here’s a chance to step in before things go any further. Kindness is something that seems to be in short supply these days.

—And if you’re in need of a safe space on the Internet, take a culinary vacation with chef Sameh Wadi. Right now the chef of the recently shuttered Saffron and the continually killing it at Lyn/Lake World Street Kitchen is on a spectacular Asian vacation and the food photos he’s sharing are a glorious desk vacation for those of us stuck in the gray, icy sheets of the Twin Cities.