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Meanwhile, on the closings front, it has been a tough six months.

Just shy of their 70th birthdays, the Oak Grill and Skyroom restaurants closed in January. Both were in the downtown Minneapolis store Formerly Known as Dayton's.

Also in January, Lunds & Byerlys pulled the plug on its three-year-old Lunds & Byerlys Kitchen concept in Wayzata, and the Third Bird closed its Loring Park doors. Owner Kim Bartmann quickly replaced it with Bearcat, which closed 37 days later. In April, Bartmann re-christened the space as Early Bird (1612 Harmon Place, Mpls.,, serving breakfast and lunch.

In February, Marin Restaurant & Bar chef Mike Rakun bought the place, briefly closed it for a quick renovation and reopened in early April as Mercy (901 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls.,, "a neighborhood restaurant for downtown," said Rakun.

Four-star Piccolo closed in mid-March, followed by Mozza Mia at 50th in France in Edina. April saw the demise of state's only Bonefish Grill location, and the end of Arnellia's.

Bradstreet Neighborhood Craftshouse called it quits in mid-May; owner Graves Hospitality plans to re-create the cocktail bar and restaurant next year in the hotel it's building outside Terminal 1 at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

May was also the month when Birdie, the small-scale, tasting-menu only sibling to Nighthawks (3753 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls., went dark, along with St. Paul's 17-year-old Tanpopo.

After a decade-long run, Strip Club Meat & Fish in St. Paul said its farewells on July 1. A week later, D'Amico & Partners closed its seven-year-old Parma 8200, and Dulono's Pizza ended a 60-year tradition by closing its oldest outpost, in Minneapolis' Lyn-Lake neighborhood.

More closings are in the pipeline. Ten-year-old Cafe Maude (5411 Penn Av. S., Mpls., is set to close at the end of the month. Brewer's Table (520 Malcolm Av. SE., Mpls., chef Jorge Guzman's extraordinary beer-savvy restaurant at the Surly Brewing Co., is closing Aug. 5. And Wild Rice (84860 Old San Road, Bayfield, Wis., northern Wisconsin's one-of-a-kind destination restaurant, plans to call it quits at the end of October.