Last year, we ran a story about south Minneapolis landmark Marla’s Caribbean that asked: Can anyone save it?
Marla Jadoonanan and her husband Ian opened their small but beloved restaurant in 2008, bringing a whole lot of spice to 3761 Bloomington Ave. Since then, Marla's has become a Twin Cities fixture. It's a place where you're as likely to find folks from the neighborhood chowing down on doubles as you are area celeb chefs sharing a meal.
Gavin Kaysen and Andrew Zimmern were among those who voiced their support for the Minneapolis institution after our story ran last year. (If you want some sense of what kind of spicy delights the city's losing, read our review of Marla's from back when it opened.)
But—and it hurts to write this—it's not long for this world. As we noted last January, a new landlord bought Marla's building, hinting within weeks at a rent hike that would double the current rate. They've been in mediation for months, trying to figure out a solution that would let Marla's stay on Bloomington. At this Monday's session, something shifted.
“While I was sitting there, I’m like, ‘You know what? I’m done,’” Jadoonanan tells City Pages. “I don’t need this anymore, you know?”
Jadoonanan decided then to officially end her lease. (The restaurant has already been closed on and off over the last few months for repairs to the building; every stroll past the address to see a cardboard "closed" sign in the door sent a shiver of apprehension down the spine.)
“It’s a bittersweet feeling right now, to get out of that situation,” she says. “I’m just kind of flooded by emotion.”
Jadoonanan feels better already. She'll take a break to regroup and collect herself before figuring out what comes next. She plans to concentrate more on catering, and would like to give cooking lessons—something she’s often asked about, but hasn’t been able to do while running the restaurant full-time.
Jadoonanan guesses she’ll stay open until around the third week of June, but they'll need time to clean out the space before the lease runs out at the end of the month.
“Please let all my customers know that I thank them for all the love and support for the last 14 years. I will miss each one of them,” she adds. “That was my biggest thing: peeking out, looking in the camera from the kitchen and seeing how they enjoy the food, you know? The empty plates. Most of the time, when my plates come back, it’s like they’ve been licked."
Of course, you never know. After she relaxes for a bit, maybe she’ll be back. In the meantime, she's in talks with a few places to brand her spices and hot sauces, which is very good news for your personal pantry.
Still... it sucks.
“I feel bad for my customers,” Jadoonanan says. “I feel very sad that there will be a hole in the eating scene in the Twin Cities area here.”