Friday, February 19, 2010

The Jim Wentzell Special: A Steak and Manhattan on West Broadway!

Post and photos by Jeff Skrenes. John Hoff and Pat Carney were in attendance as well, taking more and better photos.

Several months ago, while writing about the Delisi's/KMOJ groundbreaking, I made a promise to longtime Hawthorne board member Jim Wentzell. He'd get his steak and Manhattan on West Broadway and he wouldn't have to pay a dime for it. Last night, Hawthorne members, NoMi residents and activists, and plenty of other wonderful people working to revitalize our community made good on that promise.

We gathered at Good Sports Bar and Grill, located in the Hawthorne neighborhood on 2nd and Broadway. As previously mentioned, Good Sports serves both steaks and Manhattans, and does them both amazingly well. Mike Christenson of CPED helped put this together by getting Jim to attend, but we kept the scope of how many people would be there a secret. Actually, it was such a good secret that even Alexandra Jasicki and I were surprised by the turnout. I'm told that the count at one point was 82 people, and it was estimated that 65-70 of them were there for this event.

The attendees were a veritable who's-who of NoMi revitalizers. Hawthorne residents, board members, city officials, neighborhood activists and all three NoMi city council representatives made an appearance. Pictured above is Bob Miller of NRP, Ed Anderson of Cub on Broadway, and Jim, with Mike Christenson in the background. Jim's birthday is about a month away, but with this many people gathered, we had to celebrate that too. With this many passionate people in a room together, we're bound to have differences of opinion, but the only arguments I overheard were among those competing for the honor of picking up the tab for Jim that night.

We can point to all kinds of economic indicators like dollars invested or business occupancy rates, but Jim has always had a beautifully simple way to measure success in NoMi. For years he's said that he'll know we've turned the corner when he can sit down at a good restaurant and have a steak and a Manhattan on Broadway Ave. Plenty of people (myself included) did just that. The Leveys, who own Good Sports, said that their supply of steaks was "raided" by the time we were done. I had a Manhattan perfect, and I didn't have to specify that the steak be perfect; it just came that way.

Also in attendance were Peter Teachout, former Hawthorne board chair (with his four kids in tow) and Kip Browne of Jordan, who brought along his newborn. Val and Mike Levey mentioned their neices, ages 3 and 11, and said they want to run an establishment that they know they can bring their entire family to.

As excited as we all were to thank Jim for his many years of service in NoMi, this event wasn't just about him. This was a chance to show off. Here in NoMi, we're proud of the economic development we're seeing, we're proud of businesses like Good Sports, proud of dedicated volunteers like Jim Wentzell, and proud of the vibrant and supportive community we've got in Hawthorne and throughout north Minneapolis. A heartfelt thanks goes out to everyone who contributes to the success in our community!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Remember to Sign Up for Community Energy Services!

Post and photo by Jeff Skrenes.

Coming up soon, the Hawthorne Neighborhood Council will host two workshops for a new residential energy service program with the Center for Energy and Environment. Pictured above is Hawthorne board member and blogger John Hoff, filling out his application form for this program.

John was also kind enough to lend our neighborhood the use of his Johnny Northside pdf support site. Click here and you can view and download an informational flier about the program, an application document, and a flier about the two workshops.

Here's how it works in a nutshell: CEE is providing a customized home energy visit from professionals who can help ascertain what your home may need. Along with this, some materials will be provided to make basic energy savings changes in your home. The visit and the materials have a $400 value, and the forms indicate that there is a $20 copay. However, the Hawthorne Neighborhood Council will cover the copays for the first 150 people who sign up. If you're in that group, you get a $400 value PLUS some long-term energy fixes for your home for FREE.

Here's the catch: in order to participate, attendance at one of the two workshops is mandatory: February 17, 6:30-8:30 p.m. and February 20, 10 a.m.-noon, both at Farview Park. Please fill out the form here and get it to Ashley Robertson at CEE ( to register. We'll see you at one of the workshops!

Friday, February 05, 2010

Good Sports Bar & Grill Has "Soft Opening"

Post and photos by Jeff Skrenes

Last night, the Good Sports Bar & Grill had its "soft" opening. This is a term we're learning in Hawthorne as more and more exciting new business pop up in what used to be nuisance areas. A soft opening is when a business opens their doors without much fanfare in order to iron out any wrinkles and get a feel for how the day will run. If last night is any indication, Good Sports Bar & Grill will be a huge success.

In the second picture, I'm enjoying a Cuban cigar with Realtor Charmaine Wahlstrom Schodde. I was thinking back to the days when a Cuban cigar was smoked to celebrate a victory against Citimortgage. Except this time around, we were celebrating that a business has been built up instead of a house being torn down. I'm sure that helped make the cigar taste even better.

In the next picture, Alexandra Jasicki, Director of Community Affairs for Hawthorne is talking with Val Levey (in the red), who is one of the co-owners of Good Sports. Val does excellent work in high-end general contracting home rehab. His brother Mike has extensive experience in bar and restaurant management.

When the Levey brothers first came to the neighborhood and to the city with their proposal, they were met with heavy skepticism. People wondered if anything good could ever come from a place that had been the source of so many problems in the neighborhood. Donny Dirk's Zombie Den answered that question already by turning around Stand Up Frank's just down the street. Val and Mike came to just about every Hawthorne community meeting they could for the better part of a year to garner support and take input from the neighborhood. Alexandra worked tirelessly to help the Hawthorne Neighborhood Council reciprocate the Leveys' effort, and we now welcome another new business to West Broadway.

It's also worth noting that West Broadway is the only commercial corridor in the country where development is proceeding without being hindered by the recession.

In the final picture, Hawthorne board member and blogger John Hoff enjoys what we're starting to call "The Jim Wentzell Special." There are all sorts of fancy statistics one could point to as indicators of economic vitality in our neighborhood. But longtime Hawthorne board member Jim Wentzell has for twenty years had a wonderfully simple way to describe economic success: the ability to sit down and enjoy a steak and a Manhattan on West Broadway.

And did I mention the food? That steak cost just $12.99 and it was AMAZING. I like A-1 sauce, but this was so delicious that to use any toppings whatsoever would have been an insult to the chef. Good Sports Bar & Grill, welcome to the neighborhood.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Email and Web technical difficulties

The Hawthorne Neighborhood Council is experiencing technical difficulties with its website and email accounts. If there are urgent issues, please call the Hawthorne office at 612-529-6033. We hope to have these issues resolved shortly, and we apologize for any inconvenience.