Tuesday, April 25, 2023


With his formal announcement, Joe Biden appears to

have locked up his renomination as the Democratic

nominee for president in 2024. With his current big lead 

in the polls, Donald Trump appears now to be the likely

nominee for his Republican Party for president in 2024..

Considering the negatives in public opinion for the

re-election of the Biden-Harris ticket or for a comeback

win by a Trump-led ticket, it seems that the current

conventional wisdom that next year will see a replay

of 2020 is a defiance of common sense and political


I would suggest that, far from any certainty, both races

for the presidential nomination are far from over.

On the Democratic side, we have likely not seen the

end of the challenge to the frail and rapidly aging

president. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is not going to be the

Democrat who defeats him, but the Kennedy scion’s

growing appeal, like Eugene McCarthy’s 1968 challenge 

to Lyndon Johnson, mighy lead to a delayed entrance

of at least one or more conventional Biden challengers.

On the Republican side, Donald Trump’s current lead in

the polls is almost certainly the result of his recent legal

indictment, and the fact that his major GOP rival, Florida

Governor Ron DeSantis, has not yet announced his

candidacy. While Trump currently leads DeSantis among

Republicans in most national and state polls, those same

polls show DeSantis doing better than Trump against

Biden in almost every case. This curious divergence

suggests that DeSantis is the stronger GOP nominee

against a Democrat in 2024.

In addition to the major party campaigns, the weakness 

of the frontrunning candidates, and the widespread

economic and international uncertainty, makes it very

likely that serious third party candidacies could soon

emerge. A centrist “No Labels Party” effort is already

underway, and it could easily attract well-known

figures if one or both parties seem unusually vulnerable

in the November, 2024 campaign.

Governor DeSantis, now on his obligatory international

tour that includes Japan, Great Britain and Israel, is the

most serious potential Republican challenger, but his

timetable for entrance into the race has narrowed with

the first debates only months away. There are already

some credible other figures in the GOP race, but the

political reality is that only Mr. DeSantis could defeat

Mr. Trump in the upcoming primary campaign contests.

Although the obvious political nature of the timing of the

New York indictment of Mr. Trump has rallied Republicans

to his side for now, it is not at all clear this and his other

looming legal problems will sustain support for him.

Every public opinion poll indicates that voters of both

major parties, and independent voters, want younger and

less controversial choices than Biden and Trump. By

keeping Kamala Harris as his running mate, the president

is also offering voters a choice even more unpopular than

he is, and who has been decidedly unimpressive as vice

president so far.

Perhaps, after all, it will be Biden vs. Trump next year.

But public dissatisfaction with that prospect is so great

that the possibility of surprise in one or both parties’

tickets is higher than any presidential cycle in memory,

perhaps ever.

This presidential nomination campaign cycle has just begun.


Copyright (c) 2023 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Monday, April 3, 2023

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Restaurants In Recovery

 by guest food writer Leo Mezzrow

It appears that the restaurant-hospitality industry, so

heavily damaged at the height of the pandemic crisis,

is well on its way to recovery.

Some establishments didn't make it, unable to survive

lockdowns, regulations, take-out only restrictions,

lack of employees, rising meat and produce costs,

and lack of customers.

Those which did survive often had to adjust their food

ordering and delivery processes, reduce or alter their

menu choices, raise prices and intensify their

hospitality relationships with customers.

Hesitant at first, diners began to resume earlier habits

of eating out, and returning to favorite restaurants,

as well as try out the many new bistros which opened


The latter is one of the most positive signs of the

dining-out renewal, with many restaurateurs who had

closed opening new dining rooms. Several closed

facilities also reopened with new owners and different

menu identities.

Many upscale restaurants, previously employing

traditional table service, adapted to self-service

ordering, and employing fewer wait and kitchen


The most visible change, from the diner’s point of

view, has been of course, menu prices which in 

many cases exceeded the general inflation in other

retail industries. This inevitably has caused diners,

especially older ones, to stay home more often, or

to abandon previous favorites which had become

too expensive.

As I said previously, the opening of new restaurants

has been a positive sign of dining out recovery. Using

the Twin Cities in Minnesota as an illustration, here are

some examples. Although parts of Minneapolis are

still suffering, especially in central downtown and 

Uptown, the periphery of downtown where new condo

and apartment construction has taken place, is

enjoying a restaurant boom. The North Loop near the

Mississippi River now has Tullibee, an upscale 

Scandinavian restaurant (in the Hewing Hotel) serving

breakfast, weekends brunch, lunch and dinner. Valet

and on-street parking on Washington Avenue North.

Going south, The Canopy Hotel features two fine

restaurants, its own Umbra, serving a daily buffet

breakfast, lunch, happy hour and dinner. Umbria has

two menus all day, including a menu that features

cassoulet, alligator, octopus, lamb sliders and unusual

flatbreads. The latter are half price at happy hour in

the bar area. Across a beautiful lobby is Chloe, a fine

French restaurant created by a veteran Gallic chef,

serving dinner only, and soon a Sunday brunch.

On-street parking on South 3rd Street near the Viking


Back in the North Loop area, three promising upscale

restaurants are under construction within a few blocks

of each other and Tullibee. One is an Argentine

churrascaria, another is French and a third is Basque,

each operated by top well-known local chefs. In the

same area, three high-end dining rooms are already

open, one of them in the new Four Seasons Hotel.

All of these restaurants, are or will be, quite pricey,

although both Tulibee and Umbra are less so.

Across the river in the East Hennepin commercial

neighborhood, a number of new restaurants have 

opened, including an outstanding southern Indian

restaurant, Curry Corner, and All Saints, featuring

innovative cuisine. On-street parking on East 

Hennepin Avenue.

Over in St, Paul, a number of new ethnic bistros

have opened in neighborhoods outside downtown.

Kalsada is a Filipino restaurant with an authentic

menu. Estelle serves an upscale continental menu

dinner only. Both have on-street parking.

Although I can’t guarantee it for others, I have had 

very good experiences at each of the named new

restaurants above. They range from moderate pricey 

to very pricey. Each one seems to be doing good 

business, and they are are only a fraction of new 

Twin Cities restaurants.

I believe the Twin City experience js being duplicated

in cities across the nation. Next time, I will write about

new restaurants which offer good but less pricey meals.


Copyright (c) 2023 by Leo Mezzrow. All rights reserved.