Best Comebacks

The ’80s are back in vogue. I know because I’ve seen the polos, because I’ve heard the “greed is good” arguments again, and because I’ve read Tim Gihring’s report on the Walker’s recent exhibits showcasing the decade (see page 32). I’m not sure how I feel about the potential return of parachute pants and Duran Duran, but I confess I do like a comeback. Our annual Best of the Cities issue tends to highlight the best events, dining deals, and spa treatments that have appeared in the past year, even if—truth be told—we actually liked last year’s models a wee bit better. So, let me bend the rules a bit here and present some awards for Best Comebacks of 2012, trends and transformations that aren’t always new, but are well-worth celebrating nonetheless.

The Mississippi River: Ol’ Man River is finally getting some respect. Once clogged with sewage and bereft of wildlife, the Minnesota portion of America’s longest waterway is now the healthiest it has been in more than a generation, according to a report issued by the National Parks Service in September. The increasing visibility of eagles, pelicans, and river otters aren’t just something to celebrate—they’re a sign that we’re finally learning to live greener.

The Star Tribune: The future of print newspapers isn’t particularly rosy, but the Star Tribune, once in bankruptcy, may have a brighter future than some predicted. A recent article in the American Journalism Review noted that readership is on the rise and publisher Mike Klingensmith’s decision to put a metered paywall in place a year ago has significantly boosted digital revenues. Turns out people will pay for content after all.

Jack Jablonski: When the Benilde-St. Margaret’s hockey player suffered an injury last December that left him a quadriplegic, many thought Jack Jablonski would become just another sad statistic testifying to the dangers of the sport. But Jablonski, now a junior, proved not only astonishingly upbeat in the midst of such hopelessness, he also showed himself to be tenacious. By July, with the help of physical therapists, he was moving all four limbs and using his knuckles to type messages into his iPhone. That’s a Minnesotan who’s way above average.

Taprooms: An old idea became new again in 2012: allowing breweries to serve beer onsite. Indeed, Harriet Brewing, Fulton, Liftbridge—beer makers across the Twin Cities made the most of the Legislature’s 2011 decision to change an obscure law barring breweries from serving beer, giving Twin Citians a growing number of places to sample beer at the source.

Figlio: The iconic Italian eatery shuttered its doors in 2009, after a 25-year run on the corner of Lake and Hennepin—and subsequent tenants haven’t been able to reclaim its mojo. This summer, though, Kaskaid Hospitality, the force behind the Crave restaurant chain, announced that they would revive the Figlio concept, this time at West End in St. Louis Park. It’s unlikely anyone can fill the place with enough nostalgia and linguini to eclipse our memories of the old restaurant, but we’ll applaud any attempt to match it. Bon appétit.

Joel Hoekstra, Editor
Facebook: jhoek70
Twitter: @mnmoeditor

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