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Thom Pham, Simple Sandwich Offer New Downtown Eats
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Post Thom Pham, Simple Sandwich Offer New Downtown Eats 
Thom Pham to take a crack at ‘cursed’ restaurant location

It seems that when Thom Pham falls off a horse, the beloved local restaurateur behind Eat Street’s Azia and St. Louis Park’s Thanh Do, gets right back on.

Just two years after the shuttering of his last Downtown venture — Temple, the high-end Asian fusion lounge that briefly introduced Minneapolis to the “naked sushi” trend —he’s ready to roll the dice again, this time in a building that has proven lethal to restaurants in recent years.

On June 23, Pham sent a letter petitioning the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association for a liquor license for a new restaurant. In the letter, he stated that he plans to open Wanderer’s Wondrous Azian Kitchen at 533 Hennepin Ave. S., in the Plymouth Building. According to the letter, the new restaurant will “serve a full menu of Asian Fusion in addition to selling alcoholic beverages.”

Downtown design firm Smart Associates is in talks with Pham about doing the restaurant’s interior design.

The space at 533 Hennepin Ave. S. has been almost allergic to new restaurants lately, rejecting one per year since January 2008, when sushi joint Musashi opened there. A year later, another sushi place took its place. Zaki, as the restaurant was called, closed last March. The 533 address has even spelled the demise of an Olive Garden, which vacated the spot in 2005, leaving many observers to joke about a restaurant curse.


Simple Sandwich debuts self-serve kiosks

Customers snaked out the door during the first lunch hour at Simple Sandwich, which opened for business June 28. The mom-and-pop sandwich shop located in the Fifth Street Towers skyway has slowly built buzz for its novel attempt to integrate technology into the ordering process.

Using a self-serve kiosk, customers have the option to order their meals and pay on a touch screen, skipping the cashier all together. The technology is meant to speed diners more quickly through the process and to reduce order errors. For those that would rather deal with a real person, though, a live cashier is always on hand.

At the grand opening, co-owner Jennifer Theisen-Axelrod arranged free samples on a table in the Towers atrium. Dozens of passersby stopped to snack and to register for prize drawings. Theisen-Axelrod said that the free samples would continue for the rest of the week.

Inside, Jay Axelrod, Jennifer’s husband and a co-owner, pointed out the coffee selection, which is provided by City Kid Java. City Kid Java, located in the Phillips neighborhood, donates 100 percent of its profits to fund mentorship and education programs for inner city youth in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

The store’s hours will be Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–3 p.m. For more information, visit thesimplesandwich.com.

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