A burned-out hulk surrounded by broken glass is all that's left of the building on the corner of 50th Street and Bryant Avenue that housed the restaurants Heidi's and Blackbird Cafe, and retail shops Patina, Shoppe Local and Stacy Johnson Jewelry Design, after a two-alarm fire burned through the structure in the Lynnhurst neighborhood on Thursday afternoon.
Firefighters told WCCO the blaze started as a grease fire at Heidi's at about 1 p.m. and then spread through the building's roof cavity to the other businesses. By mid-afternoon flames had consumed the building and firefighters adopted a "defensive" fight, which essentially meant they prevented the blaze from spreading while allowing it to burn itself out. The restaurant's owner told the station four employees were in the building at the time the fire started. No one was hurt.
By 6 p.m. the fire appeared to be out. Police had blocked off the intersection and evening commuters on 50th Street were stacked up for blocks east and west as police diverted them through the surrounding neighborhoods. Handfuls of passersby gathered across the street to look at the destruction and TV news crews set up remote broadcasts.
The building lies at the heart of a small but popular retail area on 50th Street between the Tangletown neighborhood and Lynnhurst Park. It's just a few blocks southeast of Lake Harriet.
Here's why Heidi's is the best restaurant in Minneapolis right now: Where else can you have a meal cooked by a nationally esteemed chef at a place where nothing on the menu costs more than $20? And when we say cooked, we don't mean quote-unquote cooked, like he created the concept but faxes menus from Fiji, letting his sous chefs do what they may. We mean that Stewart Woodman and his wife, Heidi, and maitre d' Frank Thorpe are at the restaurant pretty much constantly, with Stewart overseeing nearly every plate.
In a sad coincidence, Woodman was just named as a Midwest semi-finalist in the James Beard Foundation's annual awards.