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’80s Twin Cities Olive Garden Goes Viral

Duluth's Armory eyes reopening, tiny houses for the houseless, and a neat vinyl library in today's Flyover news roundup.

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Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.

Let’s Watch Olive Garden Dazzle ’80s Minnesotans 

How big a deal was the 1988 arrival of Olive Garden in suburban Minneapolis? Judging by this clip from the KTSP program Good Company, currently going viral on TikTok, it was just about the restaurant event of the season. (The O.G. location was started by Minnesota’s own corporate behemoth General Mills.)

Married hosts Steve and Sharon Edelman spent two breathless minutes of their afternoon program addressing the phenomenon, covering the 45-minute waits at the 300-seater (“at lunch… and… dinner”), the spaghetti and meatball lunch that costs less than $5, and the wondrous fact that breadsticks and salad are bottomless. “People are just going in droves to this place!” Steve exclaims of the Bloomington establishment. Sharon lets us know that some of the pastas available are “a little more exotic, like manicotti.” Wow, sounds amazing, right? Nope—despite the hype, both Edelmans give Olive Garden a mere 2/12 stars. “I think they need some fine-tuning,” Steve decides. Remarkably a new Olive Garden stands at that address today, so you can see for yourself if the exotic manicotti has improved over the decades. The vintage TV news segment was cribbed by TikTokers from TC Media Now, the terrific local video archive resource.

Incidentally, the Edelmans’ entry on the Minnesota Broadcasters’ Hall of Fame website contains this locally angled instance of the Mandela Effect: “In 1985 their son David was born, an event that many think was shared on the air. Neither their wedding nor the birth of their son actually aired, though many remember seeing it.”

Duluth’s Armory Lurches Toward Reopening

Jay Gabler of the Duluth News Tribune says the city’s historic Armory building is “tantalizingly close” to reopening as a multi-use community asset. Built in 1915, the striking 100,000-square-foot brick building utilized its 2,000-capacity ballroom for major concerts in the middle of the last century, including one of Buddy Holly’s final concerts in 1959. Among the attendees? A teenage Robert Zimmerman, who managed to squirm to the front row. "[Holly] looked me right straight dead in the eye, and he transmitted something. Something I didn’t know what," the man who now goes by Bob Dylan said during his 2017 Nobel Lecture. "And it gave me the chills."

Now, as a $55 million rehabilitation effort advances, the nonprofit that purchased the Armory from the city for $1 decades ago says it’ll be ready for the public by 2025. That’ll mean “a food hall, event center, community kitchen space, artist studios and museum exhibits on the area's music history,” Gabler reports. The place still needs a lot of work, as you’ll see from the News Tribune’s many wonderful photos, but locals can officially start getting excited for what Mayor Emily Larson is calling  "a very Duluth space."   

Churches Are Building Tiny Homes for Homeless Folks

Churches around town are trying to aid the homeless in new ways, including building tiny homes on their property for those in need. Starting in January, these structures, often referred to as “sacred communities,” will face new regulations that will help make them safer and explicitly legal. State law will require settlements to be anchored to a foundation and must be able to pass electrical, waste management, and structural inspections, among other things. "I really love the idea of religious organizations being able to put their money where their mouth is when we talk about taking care of the folks who are less fortunate," bill sponsor Rep. Athena Hollins (DFL-St. Paul) tells Erin Adler of the Star Tribune. The new legislation is not without critics however, as some are concerned that the state would be foisting too much burden on religious institutions and the cities who have to monitor them. "[There] really wasn't any dialogue with cities," notes Roseville City Administrator Patrick Trudgeon.

Inside the Vinyl Revival Listening Room

A neat one to file under "hey, cool, I didn't know that..." from 89.3 the Current/MPR: It turns out the downtown Minneapolis library has an extensive collection of vinyl. Located on the third floor of the Minneapolis Central Library, the Vinyl Revival Listening Room boasts more than 15,000 albums, and because it's a library, it's free to listen though available by appointment only; you can reserve up to two hours at a time. About a third of those records belong to the Matthew Marvel Dance Music Collection—the late, Minneapolis-born DJ donated them upon his passing. Let writer/DJ Natalia Toledo take you inside.

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