Quick Q+A: Tom Hoch For Minneapolis

Tom Hoch

The already pretty exciting race to become MPLS mayor became even more exciting this week when former Hennepin Theater Trust CEO Tom Hoch officially added his name the list of high profile mayoral candidates that includes current Mayor Betsy Hodges, former MPLS NAACP President Nekima Levy-Pounds, and City Council Member and running enthusiast Jacob Frey.

We wanted to get a feel for Hoch’s campaign right out of the gate, so we sent him a Quick Q+A full of hot topics from our arts and culture coverage.

Secrets of the City: Your announcement says: “We need to get Minneapolis back on track.” What does that track look like? When did we start slowing down on it?

Tom Hoch: The track curves to the left and has “Tom Hoch” in big letters on it. It also comes with a great soundtrack of Steven Sondheim and Cole Porter. I think we started to slow down when I decided not to run for mayor four years ago.

You’ve got the endorsement of John Sweeney, owner of Brave New Workshop—how important is the local theater voting block? As important as the local long-distance runner voting block?

There’s an old saying, “as go the thespians, so goes the nation”. All the runners will be gone by November, so I think John locked this thing up for us.

It’s our opinion—and we’d guess the opinion of most, if not all, of our readers—that downtown MPLS, aside from a few bright spots, is a hassle, prohibitively so. From your years with Hennepin Theater Trust, who needs to do better there, the city government or business leaders?

City government definitely needs to do better right now. After I get elected in November, I expect businesses will need to step up their game, too.

Which sleeve to you wear your Skyway Avoidance Society patch on?

Eric Dayton never mailed mine, and I’m still pretty bitter about it.

The upcoming Super Bowl: How much should residents charge to Air B’n’B their homes for while they get the heck out of town?

I think they should gouge the out-of-town masses as much as possible. Maybe we can use the tax revenue to finally finish Nicollet Mall.

Burger Hunter: Gold Nugget Tavern & Grille

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Week after week, Mike S. impresses us with the depth and breadth of his burger knowledge. Burger joints should be painting a mural for him! Check out all The Burger Hunter’s meaty exploits at the #GreatAmericanBurgerHunter tag on Instagram.

There’s gold in them there hills! This hunt takes us on an adventure into the west metro where the yuccie’s drive with no regard for humanity. 10-and-2 yourself straight to the Gold Nugget Tavern & Grille. Now this place is burger Mecca. They even have an internal battle each week between their own burger specials. I went with The People’s Burger. It won 22 weeks straight and earned itself a spot on the menu. This beast is loaded with flavor. The grind is a mix of chuck and smoked short rib so the pedigree is choice af. The meat taste is rich. Fitting for the number of high buck vehicles in the parking lot. Ok let’s mine our way through this big winner. Bun is brioche, butter grilled and perfy. Light and nice. The burger is topped with a housemade American chive cheese that all about smothering your meat. We call it “Instagram ready” in the biz. It’s so yummy and really should be consumed more in life. Next up is the smoked poblanos and tomato jam. Sweet and smokey work together like a miner and his pan . . . Or a hipster and her fixie. You get the point. They complete each other. There’s a reason so many BBQ joints render this tasty outcome. The People’s Burger has even more going on. Imagine a calendar full of appointments where everything is syncing in harmony. iSuccess. Last up is the bacon mayo. It’s sneaky great. The mayo just slides into your DM’s and the bacon is creeper . . . This burger is high and mighty but worth the investment. The chew is terrific and def a sweeter ride. Don’t sleep on the cheese curds they might be better than the Minnesota State Fair. Big claim . . .  Big hunt!

Scorecard:   Flavor: 9.3   Presentation: 8   Originality: 10

Gold Nugget Tavern & Grille, 14401 Excelsior Blvd, Minnetonka;

Midweek News & Notes: Mayoral Mischief

Since many of our readers don’t read anything, not a damn thing, we feel we should share some of the important-to-you stories being shared around the SotC virtual water cooler so that you’re properly briefed before your happy hour.

News: The Betsy Hodges re-election campaign posted a fake ‘Frey for Congress’ job listing.

Notes: Since the DFL endorsements are the real elections in MPLS, and the endorsement for mayor is June 24th, expect the next few months to be full of city politics news. And since it’s going to be competitive, there’s going to be a lot of activity. Case in point: Someone from the Hodges campaign was, joking or not, trying to play up the storyline that Jacob Frey is a political climber by posting a Frey for Congress job listing. We think it was a joke, a pretty funny one at that.

News: Tom Hoch, former CEO of Hennepin Theater Trust, might run for MPLS Mayor.

Notes: While Hodges and Frey are the top contenders, along with former MPLS NAACP President Nekima Levy-Pounds, the addition of Hoch would crowd the field with qualified candidates even further. Why are we spending so much time with the MPLS mayor’s race? Because with the national government so crazy and the MN Legislature full of rural reps who want things like permits for bike lane users (a real thing), city politics will be even more important in the upcoming years.

News: Meanwhile, on the other side of the river, Chris Coleman is living the St. Easy life.

Notes: Taking in Wild games, live tweeting the Grammys, having a Valentine’s Day date with his wife, things are pretty chill for the new coolest mayor in MPLS + STPL before his run for Governor. We love it.

News: Introducing Twincy Summer: You Can’t Drive There!™

Notes: Along with the major CF that will be caused when I-94 goes down to one lane through the Lowry Tunnel, Portland Ave and Cedar in MPLS will have closures around the Greenway for bridge repairs.

Burger Hunter: Val’s Rapid Serv

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Week after week, Mike S. impresses us with the depth and breadth of his burger knowledge. Burger joints should be painting a mural for him! Check out all The Burger Hunter’s meaty exploits at the #GreatAmericanBurgerHunter tag on Instagram.

On a bus to St. Cloud . . . Oh, Garth. Any which way you go put on some twang cause we’re heading to Cloud town. Now I’m tempted to support Kim Kardashian’s former fiance Kris Humphries 🏀 parents (they own a Five Guys 🍔 in St. Cloud, MN), but we’ll save that one for later and hit up the legendary Val’s Rapid Serv. You act like you didn’t know that was coming. Said Cloud town! This place is old timey with game. Sign outside is so tight. Damn Gina, damn! They’ve been doin’ it, doin’ it, and doin’ it well since 1959. Totes a take-out burger and fries joint. Cash me ousside, howbow dah. Eat in the car. The Triple Cheeseburger is the best choice. You can eat half if it’s too much. Don’t get weirdy on me. Always remember burger lefties are late night besties. The patties are thin and done well on a flattop that’s seen more action than Wilt the Stilt. A “seasoned grill” like Val’s is destined for a Smithsonian at some point. Kid you not! The flavor is classic and the cheese is melted all over. With a light beef grease and a power cheese melt it mo def an OTP.  Hella juicy! The bun is good and fits better than your lost winter glove. Speaking of finding things or finding things out, the locals seem to know why the fries are so good and possibly off color. While browsing the racks at St. Clouds iconic sports den Centennial Sports, I come to find out that those sneaky folks over at Val’s sprinkle their fries with popcorn salt and possibly a hint of cheese. It certainly explains the unique flavor. A top-rated French Fry indeed. Loved this whole experience. It’s fast and when everybody likes it you know it’s good!

(Writer’s Note: “Tennessee Stud” was on the radio while at Val’s!)

Scorecard:   Flavor: 8.2   Presentation: 5   Originality: 6

Val’s Rapid Serv, 628 E St Germain St, St Cloud,

Twincy Cheat Sheet

James J Hill

It’s almost impossible to keep up with the arts and the culture and the entertainment and food and drink and the people and the places here in MPLS + STPL, so we’ve put together this list of stuff that we’re using as talking points this week and sharing them with you to pretend like they’re you’re own.

Who: The Witches in all black at the weekend marches

While clever and creative signs have become the norm at marches and protests—come up with your own though, come on, you can’t steal “not usually a sign person, but jeez” anymore—dressing up in all black with plague masks and witch hats is one way to stand out. When we saw the witches walking around with their signs, we immediately started hoping they’d become regular sightings around town, like Scott Seekins, but more political and cooler.

What: Italian Film Fest

Buona sera, senorita, buona sera. It’s time to say hello to this year’s Italian Film Fest this weekend at St. Anthony Main. The event features a total of nine films, including eight that have never been shown in MN, plus a celebration of Sergio Leone. There’s also a big opening night party that’s open to even non-Italianos. Get tickets to the shows ahead of time, since it’s a small run, screenings can fill up fast.

When: Not til fall, when the MN Opera starts its new season

Regular Readers know we love our opera, and it pains us every time we get the early notice about the upcoming MN Opera season, since it doesn’t kick off until fall. This year looks especially exciting, since it includes accessible classics like Donizetti’s Don Pasquale and Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro matched with a contemporary production like Dead Man Walking, “The most performed new opera of the 21st century” based off the memoir that also launched the movie. At least we still have Dinner at Eight and La Boheme to still look forward to this current season.

Where: Spooky ol’ James J. Hill Center

Get a live performance of some throwback radio dramas thanks to The Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society podcast. Joshua English Scrimshaw, Tim Uren and Eric Webster with Shanan Custer and Joe Weisman will recreate two golden age radio suspense stories as the original broadcast, including the announcements and commercials. The shows will be once a month, including Sunday, February 26th

Why: AMC Rosedale’s slow-ass ticketing lines

How long has AMC Rosedale been showing movies? You’d think they would know how to sell tickets by now. But we’ve heard rumors—fateful warnings, more like―to arrive super early, but we felt the sting first hand at John Wick 2 (which is great) when only one of the electronic machines was working and one of the two tellers was offline helping an indecisive lady figure out which random movie she was going to see that afternoon (who does this?).