Mall renovations spark restaurant boom

New dining options move into Park before summer

Shops+and+restaurants+in+the+Texa-Tonka+neighborhood+March+18.+Brito%27s+Burrito+opened+March+31%2C+and+Angel+Food+Bakery+is+expected+to+open+late+June.

Jacob Perszyk

Shops and restaurants in the Texa-Tonka neighborhood March 18. Brito’s Burrito opened March 31, and Angel Food Bakery is expected to open late June.

Sam Swisher

After scouring the West Metro for a suitable location to relocate, Angel Food Bakery owner Katy Gerdes said it was the deadzone of restaurant options that drew her bakery to move to the Texa-Tonka shopping center. 

“The more we researched St. Louis Park, the more we realized that for whatever reason the city doesn’t have that many options for food and beverage, which seems crazy when you think about it,” Gerdes said. “I don’t see a cool coffee shop that’s focusing on local amazing coffee, I don’t see a local great bakery in the city.”

Angel Food Bakery is expected to open in late June or early July depending on construction. Brito’s Burritos, one of the other restaurants moving into Texa-Tonka, had its grand opening March 31.

According to Howard Paster, president of Paster Properties which owns Texa-Tonka, there is a high demand for restaurants like Angel Food and Brito’s Burritos in the area. 

“At Texa-Tonka we had some restaurants at the shopping center before, but we’re bringing in more restaurants and food users because that’s what people are looking for,” Paster said. “They’re looking for neighborhood places where they can go eat, and interact with neighbors in a friendly setting.”

Senior Cole Kaupang said these new restaurants will have a good impact on the community and give opportunities to people looking for jobs.

“It’ll be a positive thing for the area because having more options to eat is a great thing since we don’t have that many places to eat out,” Kaupang said. “It will also help create more jobs for people, especially high schoolers.”

Gerdes said St. Louis Park is a perfect middleground for their West Metro and downtown customers.

“I love the proximity that St. Louis Park has to downtown, it’s still only a few minute drive to get to where we were before, so we’re still near our city people and then we have much easier access to our west-suburb customers,” Gerdes said.

Kaupang said he recognizes the challenge that many restaurant owners have faced in the past year, and he hopes this won’t prevent them from staying.

“The past year has just been really hard for all restaurants with all the closures and stuff, so I’m super excited that these new restaurants are moving in, and hopefully they’ll be able to make it,” Kaupang said. 

Events coordinator for Angel Food and Katy’s husband Chris Weber said the impact of COVID-19 forced them to cease the company’s event-hosting aspect of the business. 

“Once COVID(-19) hit, pretty much all of the weddings we had on the calendar for this past year were changed, rescheduled and pushed back, which was super unfortunate for our business model,” Weber said. 

Paster said he anticipates all of the restaurants at Texa-Tonka to do very well this summer due to customers anticipating the full reopening of many establishments. 

“This summer we will see a boom in the restaurant industry because there’s a pent up demand from people who will now be vaccinated and who have been stuck up in their homes for the past year,” Paster said. “All of the restaurants that we have at Texa-Tonka are going to benefit from this boom in eating out and we’re really excited for it.”

According to Senior Miles Massie, eating establishments give neighborhoods more of a distinct identity. 

“Good local restaurants bring a vibe to the community and neighborhood that most other businesses don’t, I think that’s because we all eat food whereas we don’t always shop at the same stores,” Massie said. 

Gerdes said she hopes that people are eager to get out this summer and enjoy the new restaurants available at Texa-Tonka.

“With how amazing the vaccinations are going in our state, by the end of June everybody will be ready to get out there, go to coffee shops, go to restaurants, get some ice cream and explore outside of their houses and neighborhoods again,” Gerdes said. “I’m hoping that we will be super busy this summer and we’ll be there for everybody with sugary treats and some good cups of coffee.”