Daydream Believer

What will you do when you get one? I guess you'll have to confront your inner responsibility meter: Is it your duty, to yourself and your dining companions, to leave the collective reverie as unchinked as possible--or do you bear a responsibility to be a pain in the neck, and thus do your part in raising the level of discourse in local grub-and-vittle circles?



David Kern

Location Info


W.A. Frost and Company

374 Selby Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55102

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: St. Paul (Downtown)

ENTER THE PHOENIX: What's the longest you've ever waited for an elevator? How about five months? That's long enough for Dan Lessard, owner of Jitters, the Fifties-style coffee shop, and the Times Bar and Café, the eclectic jazz and fondue spot forcibly ejected last March when Dayton Hudson Corp. claimed their Nicollet Mall spot for a Target store. Lessard has spent his summer turning lemons into lemonade--or at least little neighborhood restaurants into full-blown destination extravaganzas. The Times and Jitters are finding a joint new home at 201 E. Hennepin (on the same block as Kramarczuk, across the street from Nye's Polonaise Room); the new Times should open within a month, with Jitters following a few weeks later.

Lessard says the new Times will blend the familiar and the unexpected: Veterans should be on the lookout for architectural and interior details salvaged from the Nicollet Mall location, and fondue hounds will be happy to know the menu has remained largely unchanged. New features will include a loungey couch area that can accommodate cigar smoking, a dining room in which both smoking and nonsmoking areas will have views of the music, and--next summer--50 seats under the stars. Most important, though, the new venue will be three times the size of the old, says Lessard, making room for, among other things, a band shell that on weekends will feature a 17-piece orchestra, the Wolverines.

Jitters, meanwhile, will be housed in the basement beneath the Times: "It will have a grotto feel," explains Lessard. "It's in an area with two-foot limestone walls; a six-foot grand staircase goes down into it. The first thing you see will be the deli--that's where people can get food to go, but there will [also] be a sit-down restaurant. Downstairs will also see the Twilight Lounge [for live music], a baby grand piano, and cabaret on weekends." The reason Jitters won't open till October? When Lessard started construction a couple of months ago, he learned that to get an elevator installed for wheelchair accessibility, he'd have to get on a 15-week waiting list. But Lessard is undaunted, as befits a man who survived a close encounter with Santabear. "We do everything against the grain," he laughs. "Everybody says you can't put a band on the dance floor and not charge a cover. Watch us."

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