Baladna Food is out with the old, in with the new

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The new restaurant is located in space previously occupied by Santana Foods.

After sitting vacant for more than six months, a new restaurant will occupy the former site of Santana Foods.

Baladna Food, a restaurant offering half American and half Lebanese cuisine, opens today at 801 Fourth St. S.E. with a grand-opening celebration.

The restaurant, which will be the fifth business occupying the space in the past 14 years, has applied for alcohol and tobacco licenses, in order to sell alcohol, cigarettes and hookah in the grocery store section of the business, Pierre Chamaty, co-owner of the restaurant, said.

Baladna Food applied for an “off-sale” liquor license, which means people could purchase alcohol but can’t drink it at the store.

Minneapolis city spokesman Matt Laible said the process takes 60 days if there are no major issues.

“On-sale applications are received a lot more than off-sale licenses,” he said, but added that both take about the same amount of time to process.

The majority of alcohol licenses are approved, Laible said, because a meeting is set up with potential applicants to determine if there would be any problems.

Despite crime problems in the past with Santana Foods -which included a shooting in 2006 – Chamaty said he is not worried about it.

“I think this is a really nice neighborhood and I’m not at all concerned about crime,” he said.

Biochemistry senior Jennifer Burton said although she doesn’t live in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood, she would be interested in the grocery.

“It would be nice to have a restaurant around here that offered different kinds of food,” she said.

Pete Tanis, real estate agent for Master Properties, the real estate company renting out the space, said the lease was signed Feb.

Although there were at least three interested parties in September, Baladna Food wasn’t one of them, he said.

“We had a few small start-up restaurants interested in the space, but it was hard to find one who could use the space and come up with the necessary money,” he said.

Chamaty said he found out about the vacancy by driving by, noticing Tanis’s number and setting up a meeting about leasing the space with Tanis and his cousin.

In addition to the tobacco and alcohol licenses, Chamaty said they have also applied for an outside coffee shop seating permit, which he said he will find out about sometime in the next month.

“We’re really excited about opening on campus,” he said.

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