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36 posts from March 2011

March 31, 2011

Downtown Roch. eatery to revamp is…


Here's a little more on the restaurant redux tidbit. For the full column on this, check out today's Post-Bulletin. Since it is Thursday, I'm on Page 1B, instead of my usual 2a nest.

Rochester Medical gets green light

Stewartville's favorite silcone catheter maker, Rochester Medical, got a green light Wednesday for its $10.5 million purchase of a medical supplies company in the Netherlands.

RochmedicalcatheterBack in January, Rochester Medical announced an acquistion deal to buy a company called Laprolan B.V. from its parent firm of Fornix N.V.

Shareholders of Fornix voted to approve that deal this week. The sale is expected to close soon.

The acquisition fits with the international focus at Rochester Medical, which tallied about $42 million in sales last year.
The company exports the majority of the catheters it makes in Stewartville to European markets.

When asked if this addition could spur any expansion to the facilities in Stewartville,  Rochester Medical's CEO and president said back in January that it could eventual drive growth.

We will definitely will be expanding in Stewartville," Jim Conway said in January. "We'll need it. Just this quarter, we've expanded our domestic sales staff (based in the United States) from 12 people to 40."

March 30, 2011

Downtown skyway almost ready to step up

03302011newskyway Downtown Rochester newest skyway is getting close to being completed.

When I was  wandering around downtown this morning (That counts as work for me. Heh), I strolled in the City Centre building on South Broadway and had a chat with guys working on the new skyway that connects Joe Weis' commercial building to the City Centre Hotel, formerly known as Holiday Inn Express.

They were working on finishing type touches. The unofficial work is that the skyway could ready for use next week. Not sure when the city when will clear it for use.

It will be interesting to see what the skyway will do for businesses on the river side of Broadway.

Following this one, the next skyway up for downtown Rochester will be the one connecting the parking garage by the Minnesota BioBusiness Center to the under construction student housing project, 318 Commons.

Major renovation on way for Cub Food Plaza

Cub foods plaza There's a major building permit in the pipeline for an expansion and significant renovation project for the Cub Food Plaza in southeast Rochester.

That is an interesting project that could really change the face of southeast Rochester.

With the successful Wicked Moose revamp of the old Aquarius, the coming Opa Opa Greek restaurant across the street and Eastwood Bank's revamp of its branch there, that area really seems to be upgrading.

Sushi is shimmying back into downtown

ImpianaLogo Sushi is shimmying back into downtown Rochester.

The plan is to open Impiana Kitchen and Sushi Bar at 318 S. Broadway — the former home of Sushi Itto/Katz's — in early to mid-May.

I have more details on this in my column today.

And I have to confess, I have used the "Sushi is shimmying" lead before back in 2008. But you know, I still like it. And I couldn't think of anything else. Heh.

By the way, this is just one serving of downtown Rochester restaurant news.

I have another spicy one still on the way.

March 29, 2011

Restaurant redux on way

Redux Watch for a well-known Rochester restaurant to re-create itself soon as the owner revamps the place, re-focuses the cuisine and gives it a new name.

I should have more on this soon.

March 28, 2011

IBM opens Power Systems lab in Taiwan

Here's an interesting item about IBM opening a Power Systems lab in Taiwan.

Here's some from a piece by Timothy Prickett Morgan of the IT news site called The Register.

Big Blue is opening up its first Power Systems development laboratory in Asia in an effort to do development less expensively and to better crack the high-growth Asian IT markets with its Power-based AIX, IBM i, and Linux systems.

JPOW780R --------

IBM still makes entry and midrange Power gear in its Rochester factory, but just last October Big Blue shuttered its Power Systems factories outside of Dublin, Ireland, moving the factory to Shenzhen, China. In May last year, IBM opened up a $90m factory in Singapore to make big Power Systems boxes as well as System z mainframes.


There will be plenty of people who will say that the opening up of a Power Systems lab in Taiwan is the first step in outsourcing Power chip and systems development overseas. They may be right, and they may not be. But IBM declined to comment on that future prospect. Considering how IBM wants to cut the costs in its server business, I think it is more likely that IBM will shift its remaining server manufacturing to Asia first - except for the exotic supercomputers that it is not allowed to build in China, which are still made in Rochester, and its beloved mainframes.

But, if a mainframe is cheaper to make in Singapore and ship back to the United States, at a certain low volume having two factories is a cost that IBM will not bear, regardless of the politics. Ditto for a Power Systems machine. Those jobs in Rochester and Poughkeepsie are always under pressure, and will remain so.

Mayo Clinic to add 4 floors to healthy living center

Here's a little from my piece today about Mayo Clinic's latest construction project in downtown Rochester. Look for more on this in today's paper.


Mayo Clinic plans to double the size of its downtown Rochester healthy living center, adding four floors for expanded wellness programs for patients, officials announced this morning.

The expansion at the Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center, 565 First St S.W., also will provide space for research and development of new lifestyle behavioral change programs to treat many medical conditions.

The addition will not be a fitness center or gym, like the current facility that opened for employee use in 2007.

The current workout facilities will remain open for Mayo employee use only. The new floors will have a separate entrance for patients.

No construction timeline has been set for the expansion. Employees should be able to use the fitness center during construction.

New Vietnamese place + Roch.

Vietnamese cuisine is on its way back to Rochester's North Broadway.

Doug Nguyen and his sister, Chau Nguyen, plan to open Pho Chau in mid-April.
They are bringing Vietnamese food back to 1014 N. Broadway Ave. That's the building where Tony's Café cooked until it closed last fall.

This is not the brother and sister duo's first Rochester restaurant. The Nguyens also own and operate Hunan Wok Express at 1203 Seventh St. N.W., which will remain open.

Given that they already have a successful Chinese eatery, why did the Nguyens decided to open a second place and serve Vietnamese food?

Because people asked for it, says Doug Nguyen.

"We also do catering at Hunan Wok and we have been catering Vietnamese food for weddings and parties," he says."A lot of people have come to us after to ask why don't we open a Vietnamese restaurant."

And because the North Broadway restaurant building is already known for Vietnamese food, it seemed like a logical place to open this new project.

Pho is a Vietnam noodle usually served in a soup. Chau is the first name of co-owner Chau Nguyen.

"She is well known here. She is very good with customers," he says.

They expect to have about five people on staff when they open.

BioBusiness Center buzzing with action

The BioBusiness Center in downtown Rochester is buzzing these days.

Construction of Hirman Insurors' new spot on the skyway level is picking up steam as it moves into the final stretch.

03252011hirmaninsurorsjk Signs went up recently saying that Hirman, a subsidiary of Think Mutual Bank, will open there on April 18.

The insurance office is currently based in the Kahler Grand Hotel in downtown.

Meanwhile, work on the building's street level space where Think plans to move its downtown branch is also cooking along. The hope is to open there sometime in July.

Once Think moves to 221 First Ave. S.W., that will open up a high-profile space at at the corner of 25 Second St. S.W. on the street level of the Odd Fellows building.

The word on the street is that talks are underway for a possible tenant to replace Think.

Across the BioBusiness Center's lobby from Think's spot, the offices of The College of St. Scholastica's new hybrid campus lit up and opened earlier this month.

One more thing cooking in the First Avenue tower is the new, local tenant that goes by the name of Mill Creek Life Sciences.

It is signed up for more than 4,000-square-feet of space on the skyway level, making it a neighbor of Hirman.

Mill Creek, which is incorporated with a Rochester address on Regal Court Drive Southwest, is described in city documents as being created " … for the purpose of licensing, developing and commercializing intellectual property and patents related to the life sciences."