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Great Neighbors’ Food Fight: The Coop

If you haven’t had a chance to finish sampling all the great wings in this year’s Great Neighbors Food Fight, be sure to get them done by Friday, March 31. Then cast your vote here by April 7.

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As this, a journey most fowl, comes nearer to its untimely conclusion, believe me when I say that there has been no loss in quality or enthusiasm. The Coop, my penultimate stop, is definitely worth your time. Only a brisk walk away from Neighbors, you’ll have plenty of time to stop and say hello before treating yourself to a delicious meal.

20170328_120117The Coop, a community staple since 1963, is the quaintest darn spot one could hope for in a restaurant of such merit and rich history. With only four tables, lots of smiles and a killer menu, you’ll feel like you stumbled upon a gem (and you would be right). It’s got the feel of a place a native of the town would recommend to you if you were to ask, “What’s a good place to eat around here?”

Friendly staff, great menu diversity and scrumptious eats are the highlights of this neighborhood favorite, and the wings are no exception. The Coop’s buffalo wings pulverize preconceived notions of the ceiling on chicken dishes: they’re a triple-threat of tender chicken goodness, succulent spices and enough kick to encourage a glass of milk.

My family and I thoroughly enjoyed our respective meals at The Coop and you should not be surprised to find me there again in the near future. Thank you to all those who made this meal a rousing success and a genuine pleasure in which to partake.

-Griffin

The Coop

Congratulations, Virginia!

We are thrilled to share that Virginia Milbert will be receiving the 2017 Service to Others – Humanitarian Recognition (SOHR) from the South St. Paul/Inver Grove Heights Rotary Club! Virginia was part of the group that led the effort to organize what would become Neighbors, Inc. in the early 1970’s, and she continues to volunteer in the Clothes Closet multiple times a week.

DSCN9444Virginia – who will turn 100 in June – has inspired generations of volunteers in the ideal of service and, according to John Kemp “may just be the kindest person I’ve ever known.” This recognition honors outstanding citizens who have made an impact on the greater South St. Paul, West St. Paul and Inver Grove Heights area for more than 10 years by providing significant humanitarian service within these communities.

She will be honored at the club’s banquet on Friday, April 21, at 7 p.m. at Southview Country Club. Tickets are available to Neighbors volunteers at a reduced price of $35. If you would like to attend, please contact Yudi at the front desk.

2017 Great Neighbors’ Food Fight: BLVD Bar + Grille

Read on to get the details about Griffin’s latest Food Fight adventure!

What began as a charming Tuesday afternoon ended as a delightful Tuesday early evening at the latest stop on my Food Fight adventure. The destination: BLVD Bar & Grill. As my mom and I approached the door, we knew we were in for a treat.

20170307_155803Agreeable aromas lined the room, while the hub-a-bub of the after-work crowd led me to believe that good things were sold here. We took our seats and were immediately met by the friendly gaze of our server, our gatekeeper into the unknown.

Let me tell you: BLVD is a great spot with a lot to offer. Play a little 8-ball with friends, cheer on the local sports teams (go team!) or partake in a pleasant dinner with mom – don’t forget to spot the bill! The staff is friendly and attentive, the food is darn good and the folks are a fun bunch.

For this meal, I decided upon the eponymous BLVD wings. I figured if these babies earned the restaurant’s naming rights, there must be some degree of confidence in their flavor aptitude. And it was confirmed! Spoilers: BLVD wings are a succulent blend of salt, pepper, garlic and some other things that taste delicious and are too complex for my palette. The only way to find out more is to try them yourself!

I’m going to give BLVD Bar & Grill a perfect two thumbs up out of two. Thank you to everyone who made this dinner a delight, and I hope to see all of you there sometime!

-Griffin

BLVD-wings

Feed Our Neighbors Food Drive: March 25

Get your grocery shopping done and help feed our neighbors in need!

Cub drive - electronic flyer

2017 Great Neighbors’ Food Fight: B-52 Burgers and Brew

As you get ready to read Griffin’s latest stop, don’t forget — punch cards are available at the Neighbors office or by clicking here!

The day was Sunday, the mission: chicken. After recruiting a couple of friends to partake in the adventure, I hopped into my Chevy and fired down Highway 52 with aplomb.

20170220_130333A short jaunt from the intersection of Highway 52 and Upper 55th Street brings you to B-52 Burgers & Brew. I know what you’re thinking, but don’t let the name fool you: they also serve chicken wings.

B-52 is a genuinely fun place to hang out, with some type of event taking place nearly every day of the week. You can flex your intellectual superiority over peers with trivia, grab a beer with friends you haven’t met yet at the bar, or sit in silence together while enjoying one of the many large TV’s, to name a few. It has the boisterous energy of a neighborhood sports bar, a bevy of imaginative American cuisine, and the top-notch customer service to make you feel like you somehow, despite the reality of the situation, contributed to the success of your meal.

“Good choice, man,” our waiter said of my order.

“You know, he was right,” I thought shortly after demolishing the wings. “I did make a good choice.”

Everything at B-52 is great, including the wings. Sweet and savory flavors display great teamwork to bring you a uniquely flavorful experience in a chicken wing package. A quick bite elicits fond childhood memories of delicious sweet and sour chicken, but don’t take my word for it: go give them a try.

I offer my humble thanks to B-52 for housing our hungry group of young professionals and for making our experience so enjoyable.

– Griffin Danes

B52

It’s time for the Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign!

The Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign is here! This annual food and fund drive helps us stock the shelves for the busy summer months ahead, plus the amount we raise plays a role in how much FoodShare funding we receive later in the year – so a donation now goes even further. This year, we’re hoping to collect 350,000 pounds/dollars to feed our neighbors in need. Will you help us stock the shelves?

Here are just a few ways you can get involved:

  • Attend a community event that supports Neighbors
  • Shop at Cub Foods – Inver Grove Heights (7850 Cahill Road) on March 25 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Neighbors staff and volunteers will be on sight to collect donations for the food shelf
  • Organize a food and/or fund drive during March – or donate to drives that are already being planned in the community, at your office, through your church, etc.
  • Host a speaker from Neighbors at an upcoming meeting or event

For additional details about Neighbors’ Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign, click here.

March Menu Makers: Peanut Butter

This month’s Menu Makers recipes are a real treat! We’ve taken a classic favorite, peanut butter, and asked it to do some incredible things. With everything from a gooey Grilled PB & J Sandwich to a savory Peanut Broccoli Salad, we think you’re going to like these.

March Recipes

March sales in the Clothes Closet

Stop by and visit the Neighbors Clothes Closet Thrift Store in March for some great deals and new spring fashions!

CC Sale Calendar March 2017

Nominate a volunteer for a Neighbor Indeed Award

Each year, Neighbors recognizes outstanding volunteers who exemplify the organization’s core values — respect, empowerment, compassion and fairness. Anyone who has given their time to Neighbors as a volunteer is eligible, and awards are distributed in the following categories:

  • Respect
  • Fairness
  • Empowerment
  • Compassion
  • Core Values Champion
  • Outstanding Youth Volunteer
  • Program of the Year

If you’d like to nominate an individual or group, simply complete this form and submit it by February 28, 2017. Winners will be announced on April 6.

Neighbors announces new executive director

Neighbors, Inc. is pleased to announce that Charles D. Thompson will be the organization’s next executive director. Charlie will join Neighbors in March, working with current executive director John Kemp until his retirement on April 15.

“We are thrilled that Charlie will be joining Neighbors as its new executive director,” says Brian Counihan, chair of the Neighbors Board of Directors. “With his passion for serving those in need and his proven experience directing non-profit organizations, we are confident that he is the right person to lead the organization in its next chapter.”

With 10 years of non-profit experience, Charlie understands the work Neighbors does and has demonstrated his ability to lead. He began his work with St. Vincent de Paul in South Bend, Ind., where, as executive director, he guided the organization through the acquisition of a new building, increased fundraising, added programs and services, and opened a new thrift store. In 2013, he became executive director of St. Vincent de Paul in Tacoma, Wash., leading the organization through a financial crisis, as well as the adoption and implementation of a strategic plan that increased financial and in-kind donations and improved community awareness.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to serve Neighbors and look forward to helping the staff and volunteers reduce poverty, promote self-sufficiency and build community,” says Charlie. “I want to thank our retiring executive director, John Kemp, for his fourteen years of dedicated service, during which he has built a solid foundation of excellence. With the help of the board of directors, staff, volunteers and all those who support Neighbors, we will continue to create a community that values compassion, respect, fairness and empowerment.”

2017 Great Neighbors’ Food Fight: Cherokee Tavern

We’re back with our next installment of Griffin’s Food Fight adventures and if it’s got you craving chicken wings, there’s still time to get in on the action! Punch cards are available at the Neighbors office or by clicking here.

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A pleasant Sunday drive (it was actually a Wednesday) through the bluffs of Butler Avenue from Neighbors brings me to my second destination: the Cherokee Tavern. Though the brief walk from my street parking spot to the front door was crisp in the February winter air, I was met with a warm hello and a friendly smile by our hostess in a restaurant.

The Cherokee Tavern boasts an impressive seating space, an eclectic menu of new and old favorites, and an intimate back room where one might be able to rub elbows with West St. Paul’s best and brightest (I assume; all conjecture). It’s also a great place to host banquets, wedding receptions and private dinners.

20170208_145345As I sat back and mused on the creative mixture of modern art, photography and Valentine’s decorations that adorned the walls, I had almost forgotten that we had ordered food until the welcoming aroma of jerk chicken wings found its way from the plate directly in front of me to my nostrils.

Full disclosure: I don’t know what flavors normally characterize jerk wings, but, in my amateur taste-testing opinion, these were the real deal. A little spice to animate the palette and a little sweet to give you a pat on the back for making the right decision. The chicken was tender and cooked to perfection, the service exemplary. Pro tip: pair these babies with the bleu cheese dipping sauce to round out the flavor spectrum and impress friends with your culinary acumen.

If you were to fire through your meal with a downed head and a closed heart, you would miss the real treasure of this place: the people. Jim, the owner, came to greet us near the end of our meal: “Hope you enjoyed everything,” he said. “Don’t forget to rate us well!” It was this small, but important, gesture (along with the food) that ensured my likely future return to the Cherokee Tavern.

Another day, another delicious stop on this, my chicken wing adventure. Be seeing you!

-Griffin Danes

Cherokee - wings

Get ready for the March Campaign!

March is just around the corner, which means it’s time for the annual Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign! This campaign not only helps us have enough food for the busy summer months ahead, but food shelves from across the state will be vying for funding that is distributed later in the year.

FoodShare logoLast year, we raised 347,639 pounds/dollars during the campaign, which placed us third in the state — however the fourth place finisher wasn’t far behind! In 2017, our goal is to collect 350,000 pounds/dollars to feed our neighbors in need. Will you help us stock the shelves? Here are just a few ways to get involved:

  • Organize a food and/or fund drive
  • Donate food and/or funds
  • Host a speaker from Neighbors at an upcoming meeting or event

For additional details, click here.

2017 Great Neighbors’ Food Fight: Mississippi Pub

We’re just over a week into the Great Neighbors’ Food Fight is underway and have been hearing great things about the contenders battling for the “best chicken wings” title!

This year, we’ve tapped our marketing and communications intern, Griffin, to provide post-meal reports on the six competitors. His first stop? The Mississippi Pub. Read on to learn all about his experience and don’t forget — there’s still time to get in on this year’s Food Fight! Just stop by the Neighbors’ office or click here to purchase your punch card. All proceeds from card sales benefit Neighbors, Inc.

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My culinary journey begins just a hop, skip and a jump away from where I began my life journey in the humble hamlet of Rosemount. One very impressive stone’s throw away lies the cozy Mississippi Pub, nestled directly adjacent to everyone’s favorite elementary school spelling word: the Mississippi River.

As we walked in, I knew that we had stumbled upon a place where, in the style of a popular 80’s television show, everyone would know your name. Of course, I had never been there, so no one knew my name, but everyone was exceptionally friendly nonetheless.

The inside sports a variety of TVs, games, great food selection and plenty of beers on tap. It’s just the right size: not so small that everyone else is enjoying your conversation, and not so big that you have to pack granola bars for a trip to the restroom. The walls sport a bluish hue that is reminiscent of a pleasant summer’s eve enjoying a quiet meal over the dull roar of the river (will have to confirm later when water does not freeze in open air).

20170202_095512And the wings – the wings! Phenomenal. I thoroughly enjoyed my Cajun wings. As you sink your teeth into these beauties, the savory and salty flavors work effortlessly together to make your dinner a delight. As a former inhabitant of America’s Cajun area (Houston – so, kind of), I can confirm that the flavors and river scenery work in tandem to provide an exemplary dining experience. I would also be remiss if I didn’t throw in a shameless plug for my partner-in-crime for the meal, the local favorite: Summit Extra Pale Ale.

What a treat (no pun intended) it was to share my experience at the Mississippi Pub as a part of Neighbors’ Food Fight. Go check them out and stay tuned for more!

– Griffin Danes

Mississippi Pub - wings

 

February sales in the Clothes Closet

Take a look at this month’s deals in the Clothes Closet – stop by and save!

CC Sale Calendar February 2017

February Menu Makers: pitted dates

February’s Menu Makers recipes all feature one of nature’s sweetest and healthiest superfoods: pitted dates. From Applesauce Date Muffins to Chocolate Chip Date Cookies, this fiber-rich fruit yields some pretty amazing treats! Check them out.

February Recipes (1)

2017 Food Fight cards now available

Are you ready for the Great Neighbors’ Food Fight? Six local restaurants have signed on to see who has the best chicken wings – and you can help decide who wins! Plus, all proceeds from card sales benefit Neighbors, Inc.

Food Fight 2017Cards are $30 each and can be redeemed for one order of the highlighted wings listed below at each participating restaurant between February 1, 2017 and March 31, 2017. After determining your favorite, just visit www.neighborsmn.org to vote for your favorite by April 7. The winning restaurant will be announced shortly thereafter.

Highlighted Wings

Each restaurant has selected two flavors to highlight during the contest. These include:

Cards are limited, so be sure to get yours soon by clicking here or visiting the Neighbors office during regular business hours.

A big thank you to all six participating restaurants – we appreciate your support!

wing collage with logos

January Menu Makers: instant mashed potatoes

This month’s Menu Makers puts a creative twist on an easy, versatile product: instant mashed potatoes. We’ve thrown in old favorites like Shepherd’s Pie and Loaded Mashed Potatoes, and new recipes we think you’ll love like Moist Potato Chocolate Cake! Take a look here.

sample

sample

 

January sales in the Clothes Closet

Stop by and save this month in the Clothes Closet Thrift Store!

CC Sale Calendar January 2017

Volunteer opportunity: donation pick-up

Looking for a way to help your neighbors in need? Neighbors, Inc. is looking for volunteers to help pick-up food donations from some of our grocery partners. Shifts are about an hour long and include loading food at the store, driving it to Neighbors and unloading it upon arrival. Open shifts include:

  • donation pick-upMondays and/or Wednesdays at 8:30 a.m. (pick-up in Eagan)
  • Wednesdays at 7:30 a.m. (pick-up in West St. Paul)
  • Mondays and/or Fridays at 10 a.m. (pick-up in West St. Paul)

Contact Mandy at 651.306.2145 with any questions or to sign up!

 

Board begins search for next executive director

The Board of Directors has begun its search for Neighbors’ next executive director, who will succeed John Kemp following his retirement in April. A position description and additional details can be found here.