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Even as their premier project continues to expand, the duo behind LoLo American Kitchen + Bar have a new undertaking in the works.

Pearl & the Thief (112 N. Main St., Stillwater), a restaurant inspired by classic Southern, Cajun and Creole cuisines, is expected to open this April in downtown Stillwater.

Joe Ehlenz and Brad Nordeen — partnering with a pair they call a “prominent Twin Cities chef and general manager” (whom they can’t yet reveal) are planning a two-story, Gulf-influenced eatery touting horse-racing parties, classic cocktails, shellfish and late-night fare.

“We think we’re bringing something that’s nothing close to anything that’s been done here before,” Ehlenz said. “It’s fun to do something new.”

The two partners debuted LoLo in downtown Stillwater in 2014, and have opened two new outposts in the past year and a half — introducing an airport version in late 2016 and then another location in Hudson, Wis., in May.

Now, Ehlenz and Nordeen are adding a new concept to their workload, albeit as minority partners — the mystery chef and GM will be the majority partners.

First, though, the Pearl & the Thief space, which previously held the former Pub 112, will be thoroughly renovated. An updated kitchen, opened so diners can “see the show,” will churn out dishes such as chicken and waffles, crawfish, catfish po’boys and étouffée — a Cajun and Creole stewlike dish with rice. The raw bar will boast a variety of oysters and other seafood delicacies, sourced from Fish Guys.

Some new style elements will be incorporated as well, including long banquettes, communal tables, a fireplace in the front entryway, and a new bar top that will boast a whiskey selection of 100-plus as well as cocktails, wine, beer and sparkling rosé on tap.

“It’s Southern chic and it’s going to just be a fun time,” Ehlenz said. “We’re going to have parties with mint juleps when the horses run in the spring.”

Including the upstairs level, which will also boast a bar, Pearl & the Thief will hold about 120 guests. Ehlenz and his partners plan to serve lunch and dinner, plus weekend brunch, as well as a late-night menu that goes until 11 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on the weekends.

“There’s an inherent need for it to cater to the abundance of people who work in the [restaurant] industry down here,” Ehlenz said. “At LoLo’s, we’re open until 11 and people are coming in right up until the last minute, wanting to get food.”

So Good So You expanding

The skyway system is getting a new healthful, fast-casual cafe with a menu inspired by a Twin Cities fine-dining chef.

So Good So You, the expanded remake of Juice So Good, is debuting a shop sporting more drinks and a much greater food selection, in downtown Minneapolis’ Retek building (which holds Target) on Monday.

New to the local company, which currently has three cafe locations and juices in various grocery stores around the metro? Toasts, protein bowls, salads, desserts and hot drinks — and Jessi Peine, formerly of Birdie in south Minneapolis. She has been with So Good So You as a chef consultant for the past year, and has poured her creativity into the cafe since Birdie closed last May.

“They had a dream of curated plates that were different from the rest of the skyway,” Peine said of owners Rita Katona and Eric Hall. “We started out with some really fancy stuff, and it kind of morphed into something that is really ingredient-driven.”

All of the offerings at So Good So You will be plant-based, with many gluten-free options as well, and with a focus on eliminating waste; almost everything will be compostable or recyclable.

Besides the food additions, So Good So You will sport a variety of hot coffee drinks and “nuttes” — wildly colorful, latte-style beverages that highlight nuts and other flavors such as turmeric and beets, rather than coffee beans.

More openings and closings around town

Parallel (145 N. Holden St., Mpls.,, a new coffee shop offering high-end coffee beans along with wine, beer and a small menu of eats, is now open in the North Loop.

The shop, which is open from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends, opened last week. Food items include panini, baguettes, soups, salads and a few happy hour specials daily from 5 p.m. to close.

At the Midtown Global Market (920 E. Lake St., Mpls.), Mama D’s ( celebrated its grand opening on Tuesday. The Southern foods restaurant, which serves sandwiches, smoked meats, chicken wings and sides, officially opened its doors in December.

The Mall of America has plans for a new restaurant chain. Sugar Factory (, known for its over-the-top creations, especially its sweets, will open on Level 3 South this summer. What do hungry diners have to look forward to in the full-service dining room? The likes of so-called Monster Burgers, a 24-scoop King Kong sundae and martinis bedecked with pop rocks rims.

Closing? Italian eatery Vescio’s (406 14th Av. SE., Mpls., after more than 60 years in Dinkytown. In a statement posted late Sunday on Facebook, the owners said they will be shuttering in March, noting, “All good things must come to an end.” Vescio’s closed its other location, in St. Louis Park, in 2016. A Vescio’s in Burnsville that opened in 1988 closed about five years later.