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Meritage owners to close down their last Minneapolis restaurant

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The owners of acclaimed St. Paul restaurant Meritage are leaving Minneapolis, closing down their final eatery while taking a swipe at city bureaucrats.

Russell and Desta Klein closed down Brasserie Zentral in January and the Pioneer Press reports they announced Wednesday its sister business – pizza and pasta eatery Foreign Legion – will follow suit on April 16.

The newspaper notes it's the last remaining open restaurant in the Soo Line Building in downtown Minneapolis, with the Kleins selling their interests in both Foreign Legion and Brasserie Zentral to another, as yet unnamed business.

In remarks made to CityPages, Russell Klein said he feels St. Paul is much friendlier to restaurants than Minneapolis, where he said the city government doesn't give a hoot (the word he actually used was much ruder).

He praised St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman for his efforts to create a climate conducive to restaurants, saying: "He understands that restaurants add a lot to our community. There are lots of people wanting to come to St. Paul."

Klein told the Star Tribune that he and his wife would refocus energy on their highly-respected French restaurant Meritage, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary next year, and said he could bring some dishes over that graced the menu at Brasserie Zental.

He described the closure of Foreign Legion as "bittersweet," telling the newspaper: "We put together a great restaurant, and we’re proud of what we did. But in the end, it didn’t work."

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