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!

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