Off Beat

Knowing Your Target Demographic

EVERY ONCE IN a while, we're able to convince ourselves that we aren't living in the least cosmopolitan place on Earth--and invariably something comes along and slaps us upside the head like a wet slice of Wonder bread. Today's topic: Chino Latino--you know, the new Uptown eatery so "sexy" and "hip" that Star Tribune food critic Jeremy Iggers was moved to observe, "You won't believe you're in Minneapolis." Well, Jeremy, believe it. "I think that Chino is very, very flavor-forward. It's street foods from the Hot Zone. They're dishes that are not familiar to Minnesotans," says Phil Roberts, one of Chino Latino's creators and a partner in parent company Parasole Restaurant Holdings, Inc. (whose other "concepts" include Buca di Beppo and Figlio). Which purportedly explains the slogans that make up Chino Latino's ad campaign: "Morning wood (Brunch with chopsticks)." And "The 'blue-eyed geisha': Sweet during happy hour. A bitch in the morning." And "As exotic as food gets without using dog," which graces a billboard on Lyndale Avenue just north of Lake Street. "You're not talking about the sharpest quill in the porcupine," Roberts offers self-deprecatingly. "[The ads] are not to be taken too seriously. We take our food seriously, but not ourselves. They're not really offensive. They all have an edginess, something with a slight bit of shock value, and hopefully some humor for people who aren't too uptight." He adds that some of Parasole's managers are Southeast Asians, and none of them have voiced any objection.

Follow That Story!

OFF BEAT'S STILL on pins and needles waiting to find out whether St. Paul Pioneer Press writer George Dohrmann nabs a Pulitzer for breaking the University of Minnesota basketball scandal (see Off Beat, March 8). But the results of the annual Investigative Reporters and Editors awards competition were announced last week, and the Pi Press fell just a hair short. In the medium-size-newspapers division, Dohrmann and a cadre of colleagues were recognized as "finalists." Meanwhile, in the big-papers division, the Star Tribune's investigative aces were finalists as well--for the same story. Go figure.

Mann, What a Week

IT WAS A mighty expensive five days at Minneapolis City Hall. This past Friday the city council approved an $8.75 million settlement with American Iron & Supply Co., ostensibly bringing closure to the long-running lawsuit over American Iron's Kondirator metal shredder. They signed off on a $16.5 million increase (from $191.2 million to $207.7 million) in the budget for expanding the convention center. They gave the thumbs-up to the $198 million Hollman plan for north-side housing. Heck, while we're tallying, they also approved a noncontroversial $4.4 million for some new skyways. And after months of behind-the-scenes haggling over financing issues, they green-lighted a plan to redevelop downtown's Mann Theater that will ring up a tetch more than $10.2 million in new city debt. Regarding this last agenda item, City Pages readers may recall that a December 6 report from the Minneapolis Community Development Agency (MCDA) recommended yanking exclusive development rights from the Historic Theatre Group (HTG) because of a financing shortfall of several million dollars (see Burl Gilyard's "Mann Over Board," January 19). The MCDA and City Finance Officer John Moir still don't like the deal, but they're a tad less queasy now that HTG has pledged to cover any operating deficits. Which is not to say everyone's onboard. When HTG chief operating officer Tom Hoch told the Ways & Means/Budget Committee earlier in the week that he was making the pledge because he believed there wouldn't be any deficits, council member Barret Lane shot back, "You're telling me that you're going to take two money-losing theaters, add a third to it, and make money?" The committee deadlocked on the issue and sent it forward without recommendation. The full council vote on the deal was 8-4, with Lane, Paul Ostrow, Sandy Colvin Roy, and Joe Biernat casting the nays.

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