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Spotlight on Tudor-Revival Architecture

Tudor style dates back to medieval times. It’s strongly associated with the House of Tudor, whose most famous monarch was Henry VIII. (He probably spent more time getting in and out of marriages than appreciating good architecture.)

The style was marked by frequent use of low arches, large windows, big fireplaces, and long galleries. While brick and stone masonry were common in construction used for nobility and clerical purposes, commoner classes often used pronounced timber framing on Tudor-style buildings, particularly on the upper levels.

Tudor was eventually replaced with other styles, but enjoyed a strong resurgence in the 19th century. The Tudor-Revival style borrowed heavily from traditional Tudor architecture but also blended in elements from Elizabethan and Gothic traditions.

 University Club of Saint Paul

University Club of Saint Paul

Tudor-Revival architecture often features roofs with steep pitches, soaring chimneys, and large interior pillars. Tudor-Revival style is typically expensive to build, though there are more modest examples featuring timber framing in lieu of stone, and even thatched roofs.

Built in 1913, the University Club of Saint Paul’s Summit Avenue Clubhouse is a prime example of grand Tudor-Revival architecture. Perched high on a hill overlooking the Mississippi River Valley, the building’s grand façade, steeply pitched dormers, and low-arched door have made it a landmark. The Club’s interior features classic millwork, characteristic arches and multiple fireplaces.

 University Club of Saint Paul

University Club of Saint Paul

The University Club is certainly one of the grander historic buildings in St. Paul, and that’s no accident. The Club owes its design to architects Charles A. Reed and Allen H. Stern, who also designed New York City’s Grand Central Station. (Fortunately, the University Club is a little quieter.)

Are you a regular?

Even if you’ve never watched the show, you can probably sing a long to part of the Cheers theme song: Where everybody knows your name; and they’re always glad you came.

It’s an ode to being a regular somewhere.


Where can you go where everyone knows your name?

Where can you go where they know your favorite bite to eat, or your favorite drink—how you take it?

Where can you go where you know you’ll see friendly faces who are always game for a chat—but who’ll also be able to tell when you need a quiet moment to work or reflect?

In previous generations, it was common to be a regular somewhere. Things changed. Social and recreational clubs went the way of top hats and pocket watches. Restaurants and bars became flashes in the pan, closing before anyone could get used to the menu. And we all began to recede behind our screens, favoring electronic communication.

If anything, this shift has made “being a regular” feel even more special. These days, it’s a novelty to find yourself in a social environment with likeminded people, especially when it also includes staff who know who you are and actually care.


Where are you a regular?

Why you should celebrate small holidays

When it comes to big holiday celebrations, most of us fall into one of two camps: We can’t get enough, or we can’t get away fast enough.

Either way, there’s bound to be some dissatisfaction. Do you loathe the pressure, expectations, and work involved in holiday celebrations? Or do you live for the festivities and feel major letdown when it’s all over?

Whichever camp you fall into, we have a novel idea:

Celebrate minor holidays.

Grandparent’s Day. National Doughnut Day. You name it, there’s a day for it.


Here’s why:

If you love holidays, celebrating minor holidays will provide additional opportunities for celebration. Shrink the lulls between the revelry.

If you find holidays overwhelming, focusing on minor holidays takes the pressure off. Making a big deal out of Arbor Day? No need to make an elaborate meal or find gifts. Grab a loved one or two and plant a tree. Perhaps have a picnic. Focusing on Women’s Equality Day? (August 26th.) Join a few of your favorite women for dinner or drinks and toast to the fight that your foremothers put forth. When you have several successful minor holiday celebrations under your belt, the big ones might not seem so scary (and you might even feel less pressure to go all out).

At Commonwealth Properties, we’re in favor of any occasion for celebration. We host a number of holiday-related events (for both major and minor holidays), and we encourage our members and friends to use our extraordinary spaces as backdrops for their own celebrations.

Which minor holidays do you celebrate?


Moving to Italy for $1.24

Dreaming of leaving it all and moving to Italy?
What’s your housing budget?
How about $1.24?

No, that’s not a typo—one American dollar and twenty-four cents.

What do you get for that couch-change price? An entire house in a quaint Italian village called Ollolai, which is located on the breathtakingly picturesque island of Sardinia off the western coast of mainland Italy.

There are 200 houses available. (Note: Don’t go quitting your job—they were on sale for a limited time and as of press time, none may be available.)

So what’s the catch? Okay, there is a catch.

Each of the houses are in dire need of repairs. In fact, the entire town is in the market for a serious facelift. Owners can indeed purchase one of the homes for 1 euro (the equivalent of around $1.24 in USD when the offer went live), but should expect to shell out some serious cash over the next few years to cover repairs.

The city is willing to provide significant grants to new owners to offset the cost of repairs. Those grants will cover between 20 and 60 percent of the overall repair costs, but new owners should still expect to shell out around $25,000 in repair costs over the next few years. Owners will be permitted to sell the properties after five years of ownership.

Why is this happening? The town of Ollalai used to be a bustling hub. It was long considered the “capital” of the Barbagia region and has a lot of pride and tradition. In fact, the town’s mayor, Efisio Arbau, says the town has “prehistoric origins.” (And we thought Commonwealth Properties focused on historic spaces!)

However, over the last five decades, Ollalai’s population has dwindled by half. That exodus has resulted in lots of abandoned homes, and an insufficient population to properly sustain infrastructure.

Rather than give up, Mayor Arbau decided to get creative. He dreamed up the 1-Euro-For-A-House (Case a 1 Euro) deal to breathe new life and funds into the town.

We applaud Mayor Arbau for his ingenuity and his appreciation for historic preservation. As they say in Italy, Bravo!

160 Years Minnesota

In 2018, Minnesota celebrates 160 years of statehood. We think we look pretty good for our age.

What was Minnesota like 160 years ago? In 1858, the population estimate was somewhat more than 150,000. That might not sound like a lot, but it’s a massive increase from the estimated population of 6,000 just 8 years earlier in 1850. (Of course, that’s nothing compared to what happened next. The population was 439,000 by 1870 and tripled again during the next two decades.)

In 1858, the “founding population” was made up largely of people of New England origins. In fact, Minnesota was dubbed the “New England of the West.” (Though it’s important to note that a subculture of the Sioux, the Dakota people, called the area home long before New Englanders showed up.)

160 years ago, Minnesota showed major promise. Its location at the headwaters of the Mississippi provide ample opportunity for trade. And yet, the railroad boom that would transform this area was still a few years off. Still, that didn’t stop a few intrepid investors from setting down (lavish!) roots in the area. An 1859 photograph of famed Summit hill shows six houses. One of them, at 312 Summit Avenue, still stands today.

 Burbank Livingston-Griggs Mansion

Burbank Livingston-Griggs Mansion

Another early residence that still stands today is the Burbank Livingston Griggs mansion, located at 432 Summit Avenue. Construction began in 1862, in spite of an overall slump in construction during the Civil War. The Burbank Livingston Griggs mansion remains one of the finest examples of Italianate architecture the region. (While 312 Summit Avenue is a single family private residence, the Burbank Livingston Griggs mansion is currently divided into three units and is available for leasing inquiries, so you could theoretically experience nearly 160 years of Minnesota history in your own home!)

Interested in learning more about Minnesota history as we approach another milestone birthday? Schedule a walking tour of Summit Avenue, visit the Minnesota Historical Society, or chat up one of the many history buffs who relish spending time in some of the state’s most treasured, iconic historical spaces. (We happen to know a few.)

Do you have a happy place?

Do you have a happy place? And can you have more than one?

We think so. Disney might lay claim to the term “The Happiest Place on Earth,” but we believe that everyone can—and should—have a few different happy places. And everyone should have a happy place that’s readily accessible. It’s fine if one of your happy places is at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro or a meaningful room in a building that was torn down years ago. You can still travel to those places in your mind. But it’s helpful to have a place you can realistically go to whenever you need it.

And some people have happy places that are strictly associated with other people or beings, such as: “My happy place is with my nephews and my dog at the park by our house.” That’s wonderful, too. And, yet, still, we want to make the case for reserving a happy place that is only contingent on you.

It doesn’t have to be fancy. It doesn’t have to be deeply meaningful. Perhaps it’s a certain chair in your living room that catches afternoon sunlight just right for a few minutes on wintry days. Maybe your happy place switches to your garden in the summer months.

We know more than a few people whose happy places involve sitting by the fireplace with a hot cup of coffee in either the University Club’s Fireside Room or in the lobby of the Saint Paul Athletic Club.

Maybe you already have a few happy places but you haven’t labeled them as such. Simply cultivating those positive associations with a space can have a powerful impact on your mood and perspective whenever you enter that space.

Where is your happy place?

Do you have a community? Who's in it?

As we increasingly live our lives through a virtual sphere, the notion of “community” has shifted. Are you closer to your neighbors, or to people on Facebook?

Do you interact more with family, or with an online community of people with shared interests?

Virtual relationships aren’t inherently lacking. In fact, the Internet in general—and social media in particular—have enabled people to reconnect or establish connections with people who would otherwise be too far away. And there’s something for everyone. Fascinated with 17th century Belgian poets? There’s a group for that online, surely.

The problem, however, comes when the internet offers your primary—or only—community.

What other communities do you have?
How about people in your neighborhood?
Do you have a neighbor whom you’d trust to watch your house?
How about one whom you’d trust to watch your children?

Do you meet up regularly with a book group? People from work? Other parents at your kids’ school? People from your institution of faith?

Study after study confirms the importance of real, face-to-face, in-person interaction and community support. But what if you don’t have a strong community? Perhaps you’re retired or your co-workers or neighbors are private (or unpleasant). Perhaps your family lives far away.

If you don’t have a built-in community around you now, it’s never too late to find one. And community comes in many variations. We’ve made a conscious effort to cultivate community at Commonwealth Properties. We set the stage, but the people who enjoy our properties are the ones who bring community to life. With happy hours, member nights, clubs, classes, and space for grand parties and intimate gatherings, your new community is waiting.

Achieving your New Year’s Resolutions

The statistics on New Year’s resolutions are dire. We start out the year with great expectations, but the majority of us have abandoned our best-laid plans by mid-February.

Are we really all that unmotivated?

Or are we simply making it too hard on ourselves?

It’s important to put ourselves in environments that facilitate our resolutions. Make it convenient. Make it pleasant. Make it easy.

It helps to make our resolutions concrete and actionable.

A few ideas to get you started:

Instead of simply saying: “I want to work out more,” join a fitness facility that you enjoy spending time in. Hire a personal trainer and schedule regular appointments.

Instead of saying: “I want to spend less time behind a screen and re-ignite personal relationships,” get out of your routine and start scheduling plans to meet up in person.

Instead of saying: “I want to learn more,” join a club or a class that aligns with your interests.

Resolutions don’t have to be earth-shattering. Small adjustments add up. What will you change this year?

Match Your Workout Patterns with Your Personality

What’s stopping you from exercising regularly?

You might think it’s your schedule or your energy level.

But what if it’s simply a personality quirk—and there’s an easy fix?

Gretchen Rubin is a writer who studies happiness and habits. She developed the Four Tendencies to describe four primary personality types.

Upholders are easily able to meet both internal expectations (those they set for themselves) and external expectations (those that other people or outside forces set for them).

Obligers are easily able to meet external expectations but struggle to meet internal expectations.

Questioners are only able to meet an expectation if it is justifiable, makes sense to them, and alternative options have been researched and considered.

Rebels struggle to meet both internal and external expectations.

If you’re an upholder, you’re probably already committed to your routine. But if you’re not, you might need to approach exercise a different way.

For example: If you’re an obliger, simply planning to exercise isn’t enough. You need accountability. Consider hiring a personal trainer and scheduling appointments. That way, if you skip an appointment, you’re not just letting yourself down—you’re using up someone else’s time, too. You could also find a workout buddy. The two of you could plan to attend a group exercise class together or even share a personal trainer.

If you’re a questioner, you might benefit from trying several different types of exercise strategies to find one that makes sense to you. You won’t be able to force yourself to do exercise that feels ineffective. Bonus: a good personal trainer can help explain why certain strategies make sense. 

If you’re a rebel, you’re going to need to make it fun so exercise feels like a choice instead of an obligation. Try playing a sport like squash or basketball, or try a new, novel group fitness class.

Which type are you? You can take the quiz on Gretchen Rubin’s website. Once you understand your motivations, it can be easier than you might think to develop a new habit.

Spotlight on: Richardson Romanesque Architecture

Aside from being a delightful tongue-twister, the Richardson Romanesque architectural style is an offshoot of the Romanesque revival style. Romanesque style dates back to medieval Europe, and while it is typically associated with Italian tradition, its influences span from Italy through Spain and even southern France.

The Richardson Romanesque style is attributable to Henry Hobson Richardson. He is the architect behind the famous Trinity Church in Boston, which was made in the style that bears his name.

One of the signature architectural elements of the style is a semi-circular arch that can often be seen above doors and windows. Buildings in this tradition also feature heavy stone construction and often include contrasting colors.

Richardson Romanesque style most popular between 1870 and 1895, which was right around the time that an influx of money from booming industry enabled some local titans to build their statement homes. The James J. Hill house, built in 1891 is a famous local example of the Richardson Romanesque style applied to a private residence.

The style was more frequently used for churches and larger buildings, perhaps due to the “grandness” inherent in the design elements. The Dacotah Building, located on Selby Avenue in Cathedral Hill, is a classic example of the style as it applies to a commercial building. The Dacotah Building was constructed in 1879 and has been painstakingly preserved, retaining much of its original architectural integrity. It currently houses a restaurant on the main floor (W.A. Frost) and office space on the upper floors.

Spotlight on: Italianate Architecture

Italianate architecture arrived in Britain in the very early years of the 19th century. It meandered across the pond to the United States a few dates later and remained extremely popular through the late 19th century.

Italianate architecture draws from the Italian Renaissance style, also called “Neo-Classical.” Italianate architecture differs from Victorian architecture (which was popular around the same time) in a few notable ways. At a most basic level, the Italiante style relies more heavily on sharp edges, robust shapes, and cleaner lines than the more ornate, delicate, and rounded features of the Victorian style.

While both Victorian and Italianate architecture often included dramatic towers, an Italianate building might well have a squared-off tower, whereas a Victorian-style building is more likely to feature a rounded “turret.”

Can’t decide which you might prefer? There’s also a style that blends Italianate and Victorian architecture, which can famously be seen in the “Painted Ladies” houses of San Francisco.

The Burbank Livingston-Griggs Mansion

Here are a few key features of Italianate architecture:

·         Stone construction, or wood made to look like stone

·         Roofs that are either flat or feature a very low pitch, often with pronounced, overhanging eaves supported by corbels.

·         Balconies with dramatic railings (either wrought-iron or stone)—think Juliet’s famous balcony scene.

·         Decorous framing around windows (also known as “architraving”)

The vast majority of the Twin Cities were built after the heyday of the Italianate era, but lucky visitors to Saint Paul can stroll by a noteworthy example on Summit Avenue in the Cathedral Hill neighborhood. The Burbank Livingston-Griggs Mansion is one of them is one of the finest examples of Italianate architecture in Minnesota. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and was originally built for wealthy businessman James C. Burbank. The mansion is a private residence (sorry, no public tours!) but is divided up into separate units and is available for residential inquiries.

The Balance of Office Space

Increasingly, business isn’t conducted within formal office environments on a traditional 8-5 schedule. Perhaps part of your team telecommutes. Perhaps your company supports flexible work schedules. Perhaps your company relies on a lot of contractors and specialists who come and go as needed.

More and more business leaders are discovering that it doesn’t make sense to hold on to a large, exclusive office space, let alone a standalone building.

Perhaps you’re an independent specialist who tries to work from home—or whatever coffee shop is most likely to keep noise levels to a dull roar.

Are you ready to rethink?

If you’re a business leader who’s spending too much on a large office space that doesn’t make sense anymore, you don’t have to abandon the office environment entirely and send everyone home. You have options.

And if you’re an independent professional who needs a better place to conduct business, you have options, too.

Spending focused time together, in person, is still important. Why not choose something flexible, that’s more formal (and less distracting) than your living room, quieter and more professional than the neighborhood coffee shop, but without the commitment and overhead of a traditional office building?

The University Club and Saint Paul Athletic Club can accommodate everything from an informal coffee meeting (without the hubbub of a crowded coffee shop) to a formal meeting complete with A/V and catering.

Impress your clients. Bring your team together for some focused, collaborative time as often as you need to. And if you do still need dedicated office space, Commonwealth Properties has options in a wide range of sizes.

Let’s meet to talk about it. We know a good place.

Hotel 340 is What You’ve Been Looking For

There’s a reason that hotel banquet halls are such a popular choice for weddings and other large events: Hosts are willing to put up with a generic space because it’s so convenient for guests to be able to stay overnight without commuting.

Business professionals appreciate being able to pop downstairs from their hotel room for a corporate breakfast meeting.

Wedding and party guests appreciate being able to quickly retire for the evening after a celebration—without worry of securing a safe ride.

Many hosts would prefer to select a unique space with a bit more history or character, but the lure of on-site accommodations proves too tempting.

What if there were a place that offered the best of both worlds?

(Hint: There is.)

One of the many features of 340 Cedar Street, the iconic building that houses the Saint Paul Athletic Club, is Hotel 340: the boutique hotel that occupies the upper floors. Hotel 340 is routinely ranked among the region’s top hotels, and it offers sophisticated rooms with rich history and modern amenities—not to mention spectacular views of downtown.

Guests of Hotel 340 can eat, drink, and be merry without ever leaving the building. (Which is particularly appealing during Minnesota’s notorious winters!) And, of course, guests also have access to the Saint Paul Athletic Club’s award-winning fitness facilities.

With several event spaces, including a stunning grand ballroom that can accommodate hundreds, the Saint Paul Athletic Club offers flexible options for events of any size, along with gourmet catering, A/V capabilities, and much more. And when the festivities are over, the “commute” to bed couldn’t be simpler.

How We Can Help on Your Fitness Journey

You’ve made the decision to invest in your health. 

You’re going to drink more water. 

You’re going to eat more fruits and vegetables. 

You’re researching fitness memberships. 

How do you get from making a decision to change  to actually changing your lifestyle?  

Sure, willpower is a big component. But go easy on yourself. If it were easy to simply will yourself into adopting healthier habits, we’d all be Olympic athletes. 

You need to set yourself up for success. And that means surrounding yourself with the right resources and incentives for you. 

Having a gym membership doesn’t mean you’ll work out. It needs to be the right membership for you, so you’ll actually use it. 

Think through the following: 

  • Do you need to distract yourself while you do cardio? Pick a gym with TVs built in to the machines. 

  • Do you thrive off the energy of others? Sign up for group fitness classes. 

  • Do you need someone to proverbially kick you in the tail and hold you accountable? Try a personal trainer. 

  • Will you be more likely to work out if you know that there’s a steam room, sauna, or even a massage waiting for you at the end? Pick a fitness center with those options available. 

Just like being a gym member doesn’t mean you’ll work out, having a fridge full of lettuce doesn’t mean you’ll eat healthily. 

If you struggle with making healthy food choices, schedule a meeting with a dietician or nutritionist to set you on the right path.  

You don’t have to do this alone. In fact, we’re inclined to say that you shouldn’t do it alone. Questions? We’re here for you. 

Percieved Identity vs. Real Life

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” 

—Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

This is one of those quotes that sticks in the back of your brain, rolling around and making its presence known every now and then. 

So many of us view ourselves in a certain way. We’ve carved out an identity and, we think, a lifestyle that reflects that identity. 

But what do our day-to-day choices, priorities, and time expenditures truly reflect about that identity? 

An example: We know someone who always described herself as a voracious reader. She listed reading as a top hobby and favorite pastime. But life gets busy. And when she actually sat down to look at how many books she’d read in the past several years, the total was abysmal.  

Her solution? She abandoned a long-held preference for physical books and started checking out audiobooks through her library, using an app. Now she “reads” up to 25 books per month. Double-speed. 

What’s the gap between your perceived identity and your day-to-day choices? 

Perhaps you see yourself as an avid learner but you haven’t actually taken a course since college.  

Perhaps you see yourself as a social butterfly but you haven’t made any new friends in ages.  

Perhaps you see yourself as highly cultured but you attend cultural events once in a blue moon. 

Perhaps you see yourself as an athlete but you haven’t picked up a tennis racket since John MacEnroe retired. 

You get the idea. 

Your gap might not be quite so concrete. Maybe it’s simply about the amount of time you devote to pursuits outside of work. 

Whatever it is, we all have a gap. Many of us have a lot of gaps. Mind the gap. Close the gap. It’s never too late. 



Re-thinking Your Corporate Retreat

Considering organizing a corporate retreat for your company? Maybe you’re resisting because you’re picturing awkward trust-falls. Perhaps you assume it’ll just feel like being stuck at work 24 hours per day. 

It’s time to re-think. A well-planned corporate retreat at a great destination can completely re-energize your team. It provides a major shake-up, changing pace in a way that few other corporate actions can. 

Corporate retreats can facilitate camaraderie among team members, but it’s not just about making friends. It’s about finding common ground, and aligning together toward a common goal. That’s powerful, and the effects can last far past the end of the retreat.  

What would it be like if your entire team suddenly got along better, understood and supported one another better, had a stronger sense of what everyone brought to the table, felt valued both individually and as a group, experienced increased loyalty to the company, had a clear idea of what their superiors expected of them, and felt motivated to reach their potential? 

Sounds like a pipe dream. But these are all common outcomes of good corporate retreats. The key word here: good corporate retreats.

Planning is key. Choose a destination where people can immerse themselves in the event. It needs to be sufficiently removed from their daily lives so as to cause a clear and positive disruption. It needs to be a place that offers a blend of comfort and challenge. And it needs to be somewhere that can accommodate your logistical and technological needs. 

It just so happens that we have a place in mind.

Get in touch with us and let us help you plan a memorable, transformative event. 



Why Offline Relationships are Better Than Online

Could your social media habit be ruining your social life—and maybe even damaging your mental health? 

In theory, social media is a great way to stay connected with other people. After all, how else would you have reconnected with that girl you used to hate in preschool, or the guy you waved at one time in high school?

We jest, of course, but many of us rely heavily on social media to cultivate, reignite, or maintain social relationships. 

However, we may be doing ourselves a disservice. A significant study from the Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health at the University of Pittsburgh found a remarkable association between social media use and feelings of social isolation. 

The study focused on young adults (up to age 32), but the results are eye-opening for those of us in any age group. You might think that the heaviest users of social media felt the most connected, but the study found the opposite to be true.

Those who spent more than two hours per day on social media were twice as likely to experience feelings of social isolation than those who spent 30 minutes or less per day on social media. 

Does that mean that cutting down on your social media consumption will improve your feelings of connectedness? Not necessarily. And the study didn’t attempt to prove causation.

But one thing is for sure: research has demonstrated time and time again that face-to-face social connectedness is strongly associated with an individual’s wellbeing.

So whether or not you plan to start cutting down on your social media use, you might want to consider investing time in offline relationships. Your social life and your mental health will thank you. Now go schedule a coffee or dinner with someone.  

A Bit of History at The Commodore

If you’ve spent any time around a toddler—or teenager—you likely know that the best way to get them to do something is to insist upon the exact opposite. 

That’s the exact philosophy adopted by a significant portion of the population during the Prohibition era, which extended from 1920 to 1933. Rather than eliminate alcohol from the culture, as the legislation intended, it drove the practice underground. Literally, in many cases. 

One such case: The Commodore Bar & Hotel. This St. Paul landmark originally opened in 1920, the same year Prohibition went into effect. According to reasonably verifiable local legend, a speakeasy operated in the basement of the hotel.

This space was reportedly frequented by a who’s who of St. Paul society, including F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda (who lived in the hotel upstairs). It also attracted some notorious out-of-towners, including members of murderous matriarch Ma Barker’s gang, and possibly even Al Capone himself. 

We certainly don’t condone illegal activity, but we’d be lying if we said we didn’t enjoy hearing tales of the Commodore’s nefarious roots. If these walls could talk—well, they’d probably keep their mouths shut due to 90-year-old threats of gangster retribution. 

Once Prohibition ended, the Commodore opened an above-ground (and legal, this time) bar with stunning Art Deco detail. It thrived as a hotspot that exemplified the joie de vivre of the jazz era. 

Today, the bar and accompanying restaurant have been painstakingly restored. The bar features original design elements and the whole space evokes throwback glitz and glamour. Join us for a crafted cocktail so good it should probably still be illegal.

The Timelessness of WA Frost

When you’ve successfully operated the same thriving restaurant for more than forty years, you have the unique opportunity to witness myriad wine and food trends come and go. 

We’ve also watched a lot of restaurant trends come and go. 

At W.A. Frost, it’s not in our wheelhouse to aim for trendiness. Instead, we opt for timeless. We’ve found a recipe (pun intended) that works: excellent food and service in an unbeatable setting with built-in ambiance and character. Consistent, durable popularity seems to be a byproduct of nailing these fundamentals. 

Of course, evolution is par for the course over four decades. We’re classic but not stodgy. We’re constantly searching for the best wines, the best ingredients, the best recipes, and the friendliest faces to serve them all. 

It’s refreshing to not have to compete with every flash-in-the-pan trend that comes along. No, we will not be serving you deconstructed Twinkies on a garden trowel. If that’s what you seek, you’ll be able to find it somewhere. (This week, that is. Until something else becomes hip next week.) 

This immunity to bandwagons permits us to follow other sources of inspiration, such as which ingredients are the freshest in any given season, or which vintages of a certain wine are tasting exceptionally at the moment. 

While we may not court novelty in the sense of trend bandwagons, our longevity is, in itself, novel. Statistics vary depending on the research, but it is said that up to 90% of restaurants fold within the first year, and of those that make it past that initial test, five years is an expected average run. 

What does it say about us when we have people meeting on dates whose parents also met here for dates? 

We have loyal patrons who have been dining with us since the beginning, and every experience is just different enough to be memorable—while still delivering on the same basic promises of quality and service that make us a trusted go-to for celebrations big and small. 

Feel free to try the trowel Twinkies. We’re not offended. We’ll still be here. 


Rethinking the Importance of Your Social Network

That lunch date might just save your life. 

Technology allows us to stay more connected than ever before, without ever having to leave our homes. We can conduct meetings with people around the world, dialing into the same conference room. We can Snapchat someone in Paris while texting someone in Ontario while sending a Facebook message to someone at the North Pole. 

That’s incredible. 

But it comes at a serious cost. As we become increasingly able to connect virtually, the quantity and quality of authentic, in-person social connectedness suffers miserably. 

And it could be seriously affecting our health. 

A meta-study with a whopping 300,000 participants across all ages found that adults can expect an astonishing 50 percent boost in longevity if they build and maintain a strong social network. And when we say “social network,” we’re not talking about Facebook. 

According to the research, a strong social network “turns out to be just as good for long-term survival as giving up a 15-cigarette-a-day smoking habit,” and is “more crucial to physical health than exercising or beating obesity.” 

You read that right. 


More important than exercise. 

More important than beating obesity. 

More important than a serious smoking habit. 


We were stunned, too.  

Now, we’re not suggesting that you develop a bunch of bad habits thinking that your strong friendships will protect you. 

On the contrary. Why not double up on positive benefits? 

Meet a friend for a group fitness class. 

Meet a few friends for a delicious dinner made with real, fresh ingredients. 

Whatever you do, meet someone. In person. If you don’t already have a strong social network, it’s never too late to start. 

Places like the Saint Paul Athletic Club and University Club of Saint Paul are built-in social networks, filled with interesting, friendly people who automatically share something in common with you, simply by nature of your shared membership. 

Be well. Live longer. Be social.