BY DEBRA KEEFER RAMAGE
Grocery Stores and Bakeries – Oxendale’s and Asa’s Bakery
May is finally here and it’s time to shine some sunshine on 34th Avenue and 50th Street and its nearby businesses and organizations. Let’s start with grocery shopping.
Oxendale’s is a small local chain with one location in Minneapolis and two in St. Paul. The Minneapolis location (5025 34th Ave. S.) is the oldest. They specialize in providing products such as organic produce, quality meats, interesting deli selections and staples, often from small local suppliers. They have a website, but no online shopping, and you can also sign up to receive an email with coupons for weekly specials, if that’s your jam. I love shopping at Oxendale.
If you’re buying bagels or natural sourdough bread, head to Asa’s Bakery for those items. Asa also makes bialys, the hard-to-find (outside of New York) cousins of bagels, with a similar size and chewy texture, but no center hole, and a more open crumb, much like an English muffin. Asa recently moved from the Standish neighborhood to her new home at 5011 34th Ave. S., practically next door to Oxendale’s, and business is booming. But you’ll have to time your groceries right if you want to shop at Asa; their hours of operation are Thursday and Friday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. And be warned, they often sell out and need to close earlier, so morning is probably best.
Retail purchases – Nokomis Hardware and Nokomis Surplus
Nokomis Hardware is a firm favorite with locals. Owned by a woman and a veteran (the same person – Carolyn), it has been in business for 29 years! The store was converted to solar power in 2012. It is located at 5155 34th Ave. S.
Nokomis Hardware has a minimalist website and minimal social media presence, so it’s best to stop by and visit them in person. They are always eager to help customers with home repair and improvement projects, and welcome you to drop by or call to get in touch. Well-behaved pets are also welcome in the store!
Nokomis Surplus has not been around for that long, but also has its loyal supporters. Here it is all about saving money. They’re hard to categorize – not really a hardware store or a general store. Nokomis Surplus offers power tools and decorative items such as flooring and bedding, baby items, shoes, toys and games, and a hodgepodge of other things, all of which are surplus and therefore greatly reduced.
Nokomis Surplus owner Raul regularly updates the store’s Facebook page so you can check out their latest merchandise and special offers. The small store is located at 4935 34th Ave. S. and is open from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, but is closed on Mondays.
Services – Automotive Repair Shops and Twin Cities Home Rental
Auto Care Plus is a small auto repair shop in a former gas station space, individual store or nearby. She’s been in business for about 16 years and, judging by the number of cars still on her lot, is doing great business. Dale is the owner/mechanic, and the shop is located just around the corner, 5000 34th Ave. S.
A few blocks down at 5415 34th Ave. S., is Nelson’s Automotive, a local auto service company with two other locations in Uptown and Dinkytown. Customer reviews on their website sing Nelson’s praises, with words like friendly, fast, reliable, honest, professional, reasonably priced appearing again and again. Additionally, they believe in giving back to the community by doing things like partnering with Lift Garage to provide discounted or free car repairs to families in need.
Twin Cities Home Rental (TCHR) is known as one of the most efficient and reputable local property managers, primarily for small apartment complexes or single family homes. They take care of all the issues that could be problematic for small owners.
Even before you register as a potential rental owner with TCHR, they do a free analysis of your property to tell you whether to rent, and for how much, and if there are any improvements needed first. . Then they do it all – advertise, process applications and credit checks, collect rent, and provide tenants with 24/7 coverage for quick responses to any issues.
You can visit their office at 5202 34th Ave. S. or contact them through their website, where you can also search and view listed properties if you are looking for accommodation to rent.
Personal services – Freshly Cut and The Workshop
Freshly Cut is an old fashioned hair salon with several chairs, offering modern and stylish haircuts. They also do shaves – beard line or full straight razor shave. They’re closed on Sundays and Mondays, and you can make an appointment by phone (see their super fun Facebook page for the number). Freshly Cut is located at 4555 34th Ave. S. and has been in business with the same owner-operator since 2005.
L’Atelier is an art school focused on clay. It was founded by “Jennie the Potter” who had an existing home business for 16 years before deciding to set up a studio and school with storefront. She also employs several other artists. The workshop offers supplies for sale, several pottery wheels and several kilns, including a gas reduction kiln.
Classes are offered for adults, teens and children, at varying levels of experience. People with clay work experience can also purchase open studio subscriptions for a certain number of hours over a period of time and enter their choice of open studio hours. In addition, a special course series called “Carving Space” is offered on a pay-as-you-wish basis for TQ
BIPOC art students, i.e. people of African, African American, or Indigenous descent, with a focus on trans and queer people. There is also a commercial component to the studio and periodic events related to its mission.
South Minneapolis Dentistry District
On the 4800 block of 34th Avenue South, there are two dental offices. (In the past, this was traditionally a popular area for family dentists, as a 2015 MinnPost article by Andy Sturdevant notes, and there were even more.)
The first, at 4927 34th Ave. S., is Lake Nokomis Family Dentistry, which is actually a branch office in Round Lake, Minn. This practice includes two dentists, Dr. Zhan and Dr. Proeschel, both graduates of the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. They offer maintenance, restorative, and cosmetic dental services, including Invisalign to straighten teeth.
The second is Nokomis Family Dental, located at 4948 34th Ave. S., and open five days a week. The practice consists of three dentists, according to their website, also all graduates of the University of Minnesota dental school: Dr. Alkhatib, Dr. Russomanno and Dr. Keane. They offer much the same services as their neighboring office and accept most major dental insurance plans.
Food and Drinks – Berry Sweet Kitchen and Venn Brewing
Berry Sweet Kitchen is one of those places often mentioned on “best breakfast” or “customer favorite” lists. Located at 5406 34th Ave. S., Berry Sweet opened in 2013. They specialize in breakfast items, making all of their baked goods from scratch and smoking their own bacon on site.
The list of offerings includes pancakes, pancakes, French toast and waffles, omelettes, eggs and meat including steak, hash browns, a bowl of barbacoa and black beans, burritos , chilaquiles, Cuban breakfast, scrambled smoked salmon and biscuits with sauce. (And, of course, berries.) Starting in June, they’ll also be serving dinner, wine, beer, and cocktails. Check their website for more details, www.berrysweetkitchen.com. You can also have it delivered by DoorDash, in addition to catering.
Venn Brewing has been around for a while. It is located inside the
apartment complex at the 46th Street light rail station (3550 E. 46th St., so a few blocks from 34th Avenue). In a city full of taprooms and craft breweries, Venn is a little different. For one thing, being located at a transit station basically creates parking issues. There are only 14 parking spaces and towing is fiercely efficient if you need to leave your car there. Luckily it’s on a light rail line and several bus lines (hint, hint).
The other unusual thing is that it’s also a cafe, which explains the incredibly early opening time of 7am, except on Mondays when the cafe part is closed. They don’t have food for sale there, but you can bring your own food and buy drinks. They are also, like many taprooms, very well served by food trucks. For example, during the month of May, on most days, food trucks Potter’s Pasties and Northbound Smokehouse will both be on site. (It could also be a boon for apartment dwellers.)
In addition to bringing food, you can also bring your dog, as long as he is well behaved and kept on a leash. And you can bring your children, because they have non-alcoholic drinks that are suitable for both adults and children. And the cafe is open until 4 p.m. The only thing you cannot take with you is a drink other than water. The taproom itself is really great as taprooms. They have 16 beers available at all times, across a wide range of types, flavors and ABVs. Take-out beer from crowlers is available, or from a growler if you bring your own and it passes their cleanliness inspection.
Books and more for absolutely nothing – the Nokomis library
Did I mention how insanely happy I am that Hennepin County Libraries are all fully open? Well, I’m madly happy about that. Nokomis is my second closest library and is open twice as many hours as the closest so that’s very important to me.
In addition to the usual pleasures of a library – books, periodicals, music, movies, using computers – the Nokomis library has something only one other Hennepin library has. It has a seed library! (The other is Hosmer.) When you check the seeds, you don’t need to turn them over, because you’re taking them home and planting them! But it is good to come back next year and give your own seeds, from the same plant or another.