Introducing the Twin Cities Original Chains Map

[In memoriam.]
I still remember the time I saw the original Hooters. It was down in Tampa, Florida visiting a friend. We were driving to the beach on day.

Suddenly she said, “Hey that’s the original Hooters” and pointed to a mundane building by the side of the road.

“Huh,” I replied.

I’ll never forget that day. The original Hooters. (Since torn down, because progress.)

But you don’t have to go to Florida to be wowed. There are so many urchains right here in the Twin Cities.

Like did you know that Target stores are “local”? Yes, they are based here. The first Target is in Roseville. It’s gone now, but the site is still a Target store and I suppose that is has some sort of holy shrine-like quality for big-box aficionados.

[The original bean counter.]
So too with the original Dunn Brothers on Grand and Snelling in Saint Paul. Unlike the original Target, the original Dunn's is pretty much unchanged. They still serve dozens of kinds of coffee beans from their bean counter, offer day-old pastries at steep discounts, and even their “for here” prices seem are lower than you’ll find at other Dunn Brothers. It’s like the original store is trapped in a late-90s time warp. Very cool!

So here’s a map of original chain locations from around the Twin Cities. (A store needed to have 4 or more locations to be considered a local chain, and I skipped grocery stores or gyms, because they’re quite boring.)

The general trend seems to be that pizza places migrate from the core city outward into the suburbs, while chain retail places travel in the opposite direction. Together they form a "cycle of chains" like the water cycle, whereby authenticity travels outward in exchange for cheap globalized commodities. It's like the food chain, except it's the chain chain.


Dunn Brothers - Grand Avenue, Saint Paul

Still the best.

Punch Pizza - Highland, Saint Paul

The unassuming location that started all the Napoli margherita craze.

Best Buy - Roseville

Then and now, a crappy strip mall. (See also: this story on the Best Buy origins.)

Target - Roseville

Since torn down and replaced with a SuperTarget

Caribou - Edina

Looks quaint, but probably isn't.

Pizza Luce - Downtown, Minneapolis

Warehouse District, baby! Still the best Lucé. (See also: an incomplete Lucé rankings.)

Leann Chin - Minnetonka

Where Minnesota's most greatest contribution to cuisine, the cream cheese wonton, was born. Probably didn't look like this back in the 80s.

Famous Dave's - Somewhere in Wisconsin

Somewhere in the woods there, burned down a while back.

Key's Café - South Saint Anthony, Saint Paul

Very wholesome! Full of schlock. (See also: Sidewalk of the Week.)

Red's Savoy Pizza - East 7th Street, Saint Paul

Nothing compares. (See also: Red's Savoy as the rock of Gibraltar.)

Carbone's - Dayton's Bluff, Saint Paul

Very unassuming, and only a few blocks from Red's Savoy!

Zorbaz Mexican Pizza - Detroit Lakes

Not sure this sounds like a good idea.  

Radisson - Downtown, Minneapolis

Since become a "Radisson Blu", which is the color blue with the 'e' removed.

Bibelot - Saint Anthony Park, Saint Paul

The alpha of Christmas kitsch. (See also: Sidewalk of the Week.)

Buca di Beppo - Downtown, Minneapolis

Hard to believe anything so overwhelmingly cloying ever even had a shred of authenticity.

Super America - Lowertown, Saint Paul

Everything has to start somewhere, I suppose.

Creative Kidstuff - Linden Hills, Minneapolis

Because of course over-the-top bourgeois parenting comes from Linden Hills.

Granite City - St. Cloud

Just how you'd imagine it.

Herberger's - Onakis

Because of course "Herberger's" comes from a tiny town.

Crave - Edina

I don't know what this is but apparently it's a thing. They're even coming to the Union Depot for some reason.


Carl said...

Osakis, not Onakis.

Paul Toftness said...

Dairy Queen Number One is on Lexington at Larpenteur, Roseville.

Paul said...

Original Champs I think was on W 7th in St. Paul.
Original Oceanaire was in the Hyatt Regency on Nicollet Mall.

John Reinan said...

The old Gamble-Skogmo retail conglomerate of the last century got its start in my hometown of Fergus Falls. They once ran a diverse lot of retail brands, including Red Owl, Gamble department stores, Snyder Drug and Rasco-Tempo discount stores.

I realize this ain't exactly Twin Cities Sidewalks, but I can't resist a plug for my homies.

Unknown said...

That's the first DQ in Minnesota, not the first DQ.