On Monday, they plan to unveil Dancing Ganesha, an Indian fusion spot in the former Willie’s Wine Bar near Loring Park in Minneapolis.

While the menu will feature South Indian fare, it won’t be strictly vegetarian, as it is at Nala Pak.

“And we’ll put a cosmopolitan spin on a few dishes,” says co-owner Jeffrey Fortson, noting the place will be open for dinner only the first week. Then, lunch will be added.


A couple of restaurateurs have their sights on new construction projects:

  • Kevin Sheehy of Cafe Maude in Minneapolis has taken over the Needlework space across from his restaurant at 54th Street and Penn Avenue. (Needlework moved next door into a former hair salon.) Sheehy plans to open Armatage Room in that space for private parties.“We get a lot of calls from people who want to book for large groups, and we have to turn them down,” says Sheehy, who is shooting for a June debut.
  • True Thai owner Anna Prasomphol Fieser is expanding into the former Smiley’s Clinic next door to her Minneapolis restaurant. (Smiley’s relocated to 28th and Hiawatha Avenue.) She has grand plans for the Franklin Avenue space, including expanding the kitchen, doubling the size of the dining room, adding a party room and building a patio. She hopes to have the project completed by summer.“On weekends, the wait to get a seat can be two hours long,” says Fieser. “The expansion will help tremendously.”
  • Good news for the downtown St. Paul lunch crowd — another sandwich shop is on its way. Look for a Potbelly Sandwich Works to debut at UBS Plaza this spring. The Chicago chain featuring soups, salads, sandwiches and malts has several Twin Cities locations, including Woodbury, Blaine and Eagan.
  • While we’re on the subject of new sandwich places, Madison Sandwich Shoppe is now open on Southview Boulevard in South St. Paul and features muffuletta and sub sandwiches, paninis and Coney dogs.
  • FIRED UP The Axel’s and Axel’s Bonfire empire have been sold, but that doesn’t mean Linda Young and Charlie Burrows are done with the restaurant business. Burrows says they turned the keys over because they just couldn’t say no to a company’s offer to expand the Axel’s chain even more. “It was a great opportunity to grow, but we didn’t want to be involved,” says Burrows.
  • The duo still plan to run Lucky 13 in Mendota and still own the name to Rudy’s Redeye Grill. As far as the fate of the Axel’s and Axel’s Bonfires, Nath Companies wants to expand the restaurants regionally, says spokeswoman Velinda Guon. There are several Axel’s and Axel’s Bonfires, including those in Mendota, Roseville, Woodbury, St. Paul and Eagan.
  • WINDOWS GALORE Look out, Windows on Minnesota. The former Carousel, the 22nd-floor rotating restaurant in the Crowne Plaza Hotel St. Paul-Riverfront is now an private events space called Windows on the River.
  • Let’s hope the similarity in names doesn’t cause people to accidentally drive to the Minneapolis IDS Center when they really meant to visit the new Windows in downtown St. Paul.
  • Chris “C.J.” Jacobson, the private chef from California, and a third-season finalist on Bravo’s “Top Chef,” will soon be cooking at 20.21 Restaurant and Bar at Walker Art Center in Minne-apolis. Jacobson and 20.21 interim chef Asher Miller will host a “Celebrity Chef Tour” James Beard House benefit dinner May 1. The menu is still being finalized, but expect multicourses with wine pairings. The dinner costs $175 per person and will start at 7 p.m. For more information, go to celebritycheftour.com or call 720-201-1853.
  • Speaking of charity events, it’s also worth noting “Dining Out for Life” will be held April 24. More than 130 Minnesota restaurants are participating in the annual event benefiting the Aliveness Project, a nonprofit helping those with HIV and AIDS. Dine at a participating restaurant and a portion of proceeds will go to the cause. Restaurants include Pop!(Minneapolis) and Highland Cafe and Bakery, Black Dog Cafe and Woolley’s in St. Paul. For more information, go to diningout forlife.com.Nancy Ngo can be reached at 651-228-5172.


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