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In the Before Time, St. Paul’s Payne Avenue was on the upswing.
A diverse array of small businesses was filling vacant storefronts, drawing visitors from near and far and reinstilling a sense of vibrancy along and around the corridor, one of the capital city’s historic main streets.
Now, more than six months into the COVID-19 pandemic and with winter on the horizon, businesses that have contributed to the area’s renaissance are barely holding on. For a close-knit community that was seeing years of hard work pay off, it’s a heavy blow — but one business owners say they’re determined to weather.
“It was really on a great trajectory before all of this happened,” said Ryan Huseby, co-owner of Tongue in Cheek restaurant, which opened six years ago in a vacant spot at the corner of Payne and Jenks avenues. “The other business owners I talk to — you know, they’re not doing great, but they’re all optimistic about the future.”
Since St. Paul’s early days, Payne Avenue has been a commercial corridor in a neighborhood that has served as a landing place for waves of new immigrants, from Swedes and Italians to Hmong and …
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