A new food hall is en route for Eat Street. Helmed by a team of local restaurant and bar stars — John Ng and Lina Goh of Zen Box Izakaya, Gabriella Grant-Spangler and Ben Spangler of Bebe Zito, and beverage director Trish Gavin of Khâluna, Lat14, and Lemongrass — Eat Street Crossing will open in the former Old Arizona Studios, a historic brick building on Nicollet Avenue. This is exciting news for the Eat Street neighborhood, which across decades has harbored some of Minneapolis’s most beloved restaurants, from Quang to Lu’s Sandwiches to Pimento Jamaican Kitchen.
Instead of bringing new vendors in, the Eat Street Crossing team will run the food hall’s six total food stalls themselves, with the exception of bubble tea vendor Chatime. Old favorites will make an appearance: Expect Bebe Zito burgers, expanded fried chicken dishes, and ice cream flavors coordinated with the food hall’s offerings. But there’s plenty that’s new to look forward to. Zen Box Izakaya will operate two stalls — plans for which remain under wraps — and Bebe Zito has an entirely new culinary scheme in the works. Grant-Spangler hints it’s related to her Brazilian heritage.
“My understanding of the culinary scene in Minneapolis really started on Eat Street,” Grant-Spangler says. “There’s such a huge history of diverse food, all these institutions that started there. A lot of them are still there, which is amazing, and a huge testament to what the businesses there have created.”
Central to the food hall is Gavin’s bar program — the biggest, she says, she has ever run. The menu will span from spirit-forward drinks like Negronis to a riff on Hawaiian shaved ice. Gavin’s focus at Eat Street Crossing is accessibility: She’ll have between 14 and 15 non-alcoholic drinks, many batched on hand and served on tap. She’s also incorporating some natural sugar alternatives across the menu for diabetic accessibility, and working to keep drinks at an affordable price point, around or under $12.
The team behind Eat Street Crossing is being intentional about the food hall’s presence in the neighborhood. They want the bar to be inclusive of the area’s sober living communities, for one. Also, in renovations of the Arizona building led by Christian Dean Architecture, they’re paying homage to the building’s art and theater histories. One of Gavin’s first jobs in Minneapolis was working at Azia, the beloved Eat Street institution that closed in 2010. She says the area has always felt like home — it’s the place that welcomed her when she was getting her start.
“Eat Street’s a neighborhood that’s so dear to me that I was really excited at the prospect of bringing something new that’s owned by small business owners,” says Gavin. “It’s not a corporation, it’s not gentrification — it’s just other small business owners trying to keep that neighborhood accessible for the small business owners that are already there.”
Eat Street Crossing is set to open in late summer 2022. Visit its Instagram page for updates as more details are announced.