Newspaper article

Behind-The Scenes Work under Way to Bring Cupcake to St. Paul's Grand Avenue

Newspaper article

Behind-The Scenes Work under Way to Bring Cupcake to St. Paul's Grand Avenue

Article excerpt

Some complicated behind-the-scenes action has been under way that could allow the Cupcake bakery, restaurant and wine bar to open on Grand Avenue in St. Paul.

The project has been in and out of the oven, so to speak, for months, with adequate parking the point of contention.

A variance had been granted but then appealed. The City Council upheld the appeal, on a 5-2 vote, because there didn't seem to be enough parking places on that stretch of Grand between Victoria and Lexington.

The bottom line: It looked for a while like curtains for Cupcake, said Joe Campbell, aide to Mayor Chris Coleman.

But Coleman thought he had it figured out Wednesday with some maneuvering. Once the council made official its previous 5-2 vote to deny the variance, he planned to issue a veto that would, in effect, revert matters back to the approved zoning variance and let the business open, as long as the council didn't override the veto.

The mayor thought he had the votes to avoid the override, but to sweeten the deal he worked with Cupcake owner Kevin VenDeraa (who already has a successful Cupcake operation in Minneapolis) to find two nearby parking lots where 10 additional spaces could be leased.

But when the mayor told City Council Member David Thune about his veto plan, the council quickly voted to reconsider its vote and lay over the matter for four weeks.

Thune, though, thinks the mayor was grandstanding and wished there'd been some earlier communication to handle it differently.

"My hat is off to the mayor for convincing the owner to come back to the table, but I really object to the brinksmanship; instead of calling any of us [on the council to discuss it], he had to grandstand with a veto," Thune said.

Coleman has now publicly asked the council to reconsider that reconsideration, and to deal with the matter next week, so he can go ahead with the veto and get the business open as soon as possible.

Otherwise, if the council waits four weeks, as now scheduled, Coleman he says he'll still veto the action and the only difference will be a longer delay in opening the restaurant. …

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