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« December 2013 | Main | February 2014 »

7 posts from January 2014

January 30, 2014

Dunkin' Donuts rolling into Roch.

The deal is done and Dunkin' Donuts is rolling into downtown Rochester.

After months of rumors, the famous coffee and pastry chain officially is signed up to open on First Avenue Southwest in the Kahler Grand Hotel complex.

Simpsons_donuts-l1"We want to make sure the tenants we have are viable for Mayo's DMC plans," said Cherylanne Thomas, managing director of marketing for Richfield Hospitality in Rochester, Richfield manages the five Kahler hotel properties here.

"Obviously, Dunkin' is a great brand. They were looking to lease in the area. It seemed like a good fit," she said.

Thomas says a franchisee, Donuts Non Traditional LLC, plans to open a Dunkin' Donuts between Hanny's and Victoria's Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar. The move of Optical Vision with Flair into part of the Hanny's store is opening up the space for the doughnut maker.

Building permits for the project were submitted this week to the city. The rough timeline is for the new Dunkin' Donuts to open by late June or early July, according to Thomas.

This could be the first of an estimated 50 Minnesota locations the company would like to open in the next few years. Dunkin' Donuts hasn't had a presence in Minnesota for almost a decade. The final shop, which was in Austin, closed in 2005. The Canton, Mass.-based Dunkin' Brands announced its plans to return to the state earlier this month. 

At that time, Steve Rafferty, senior director of U.S. franchising, stated that the new locations would be focused around the Twin Cities metro areas as well as Rochester, Mankato and Duluth.

Rafferty said franchisees need to have a minimum of $250,000 in "liquid capital" and $50,000 net worth per location. Each franchisee is responsible for a territory with at least six locations.

Rochester's franchisee, Donuts Non Traditional LLC, incorporated in October. While Thomas describes it as being based in the Twin Cities, state documents list its address as the same as Rochester's Dunlap & Seeger law firm. It's not unusual for some companies to use their attorneys' address for such filings. Dunlap & Seeger also represents Kahler Hotel properties.

This is the latest in a series of tenant changes, some of which have spurred lawsuits from tenants unwilling to move. Javon R. Bea, the chair of the Kahler Hotel Group's board of directors, has been orchestrating the changes.

Thomas said Bea's goal is make the hotels better.

"Obviously, he supports both retail and restaurants in the community," she said.

The expectation at this point is that the new Dunkin' Donut location will be open seven days a week. Thomas added that the franchisee is planning on using the company's latest design concept for this location.

"It'll feel more like a cafe," she said.

January 28, 2014

Mayo Clinic to ramp up link to Dept. of Defense

My colleague Jeff Hansel is writing an article about Mayo Clinic opening an office called Mayo Clinic Department of Defense Medical Research Office to better connect with Dept. of Defense for contracts and research.

Watch for Jeff's article on this soon.

I've touched on this topic in past years, so I dug up some info about recent DOD contracts with Mayo.

MayodefenseSince 2000, Mayo Clinic in Rochester has received about $41 million from the DOD. About $37 million of that $41 million was paid out for "Research and Development - Missile/Space Systems - Advanced Development," according to federal government records.

The majority of that work is done at the Dept. of Defense Medical Research Office, which is in the Mayo Support Center on West Circle Drive. That office has long been spearheaded by Dr. Barry K. Gilbert.

Some of the recent projects, according to federal contract records, include:

• R&D Services for Development and Demonstration of Capabilities of Hybrid Supercomputer

• Development of Ultra-High Linearity X-Band Mixers

• Study of Energy Harvesting Concepts, Evaluation of Quantum Orbital Magnetic Resonance Technologies

•R&D Services for Study of Energy Harvesting System Concepts

• Optical Communications: Monte Carlo Model - Preparation of Full-Scale Optical Communications Test.

I can't pretend to know what much of that means, though I believe the hybrid computer deal has something to do with immunizations and fighting virulent outbreaks. The optical communcations, I think, has something to do with transmitting medical information between hospital sites.

I confess this side of Mayo has always fascinated me. Hopefully, the creation of this new office will mean more of a spotlight will shine on Mayo Clinic's interesting military work.

January 27, 2014

Local Amish-made furniture store to open in southwest Roch.

A new store, specializing in local Amish-made furniture, is on its way to southwest Rochester.

Deutsch Furniture Haus is expected to open in a 7,000-square-foot space at 3551 Commercial Drive Southwest in early April. The space they are leasing is in the old Mill's Fleet Farm building along South U.S. 63. ApplianceSmart occupies the rest of the complex.

OldfleetfarmTwo Rochester couples, Brian and Michelle Rand along with Philip and Nissa Kraling, are launching this independent venture. Brian Rand and Philip Kraling are brothers, so this will be family-owned and run operation.

This is not something totally new for them. As a sideline, Brian Rand has been selling the work of local Amish furniture makers for the past five years online. Now he and his family think it's time for a full-time, bricks-and-mortar operation.

"We think there's a need for a store with quality built furniture in Rochester," says Michelle Rand.

The store will be staffed by family members.

Deutsch Furniture Haus will carry a wide selection bedroom, living room, dining room and nursery/children's furniture. All of the furniture will be made in the area plus some brought in from Indiana.

"It's a nice sized showroom. Right now it's in the middle of a complete remodel," she says.

To be respectful of the furniture makers' beliefs, the new store will not be open on Sundays. That's also the reason why Amish was not included in the store's name.

They also hope to have some of the craftsmen visit the store on occasion to answer customers' questions.

January 22, 2014

It's hailing taxis in Roch.

Rochester's Yellow Cab rolled out a bunch on new Prius V hybrids Tuesday to much fanfare among local business leaders and Mayo Clinic.

YellowcabpicI trotted out to the first leg of Yellow Cab's Prius tour at Rochester Toyota. Fairly interesting. Here's a link to that article.

I had reported in June that Yellow Cab planned to switch over to hybrids. Back then, Med City Taxi was part of the transportation alliance that bought Yellow Cab. So two of Rochester's three cab companies were under the same corporate umbrella ... for a while.

Best Ride, the updated version of the transportation alliance that rolled out the new cars Tuesday, does not include Med City Taxi owner Tim and Tina Fliehr as before.

That means Rochester truly has three cab companies, Yellow Cab, Med City Taxi and Rochester Taxi, vying for the predicted DMC boom in bodies trying to get around this city.

The websites of the firms seem to put that growing competition on display.

• Yellow Cab -  yellowcabmedcity.com

• Med City Taxi - medcitytaxi.com

• Rochester Taxi - Rochester Taxi seems to only be on Facebook. It bills itself as the "people's taxi company."

Yellow Cab's use of Med City in its web address struck me as interesting and seemingly superfluous.

YellowcabwebsiteAnd then there's Yellow Cab's slogan on its website:

"Yellow Cab, your med-city taxi"

MedcitytaxiHhhmmmm.... sounds familiar. Heh.

As a side note to this little deal, I'd like to point out that my editor despise the use of the phrase Rochtaxi"Med City" to describe Rochester.

Using it in proper names is OK, but saying something like "The Med City is all aflutter with buzz about Mayo Clinic's DMC" is a no-no.

It was probably my overuse of the catchy phrase that caused it to fall out of favor. Sorry about that.

What do you think of Medropolis instead? Heh.

January 21, 2014

Apache Mall applies to develop Scheels store, new restaurant

Here's some from an article I have in today's paper about Scheels, Sears, the Apache Mall plus plans for a new stand-alone restaurant by the water tower in front of the mall.

The full article will be on www.postbulletin.com and, of course, in print.

-------------

The hole left by the departure of Sears from Apache Mall appears likely to be filled by a Scheels All Sports store.

Plans to expand the mall's anchor spot to make way for the popular sporting retailer were submitted to the Rochester-Olmsted Planning Department last week. The plans also call for construction of a stand-alone restaurant nearby.

Scheelsmap1The plans show the now-closed two-story Sears store being partially demolished and expanded to 149,000 square feet for Scheels. Construction could close the mall parking lot roadway in front of the store, which would require a temporary road.

The development proposal also includes a new 9,000-square-foot restaurant building on the north side of the mall roadway near the Scheels project. The proposed building would be on the east side of the city water tower. While it's labeled as a restaurant, no specific name appears in the documents.
Scheelsmap2
Officials from the Apache Mall declined to comment on either the Scheels project or the new restaurant. On Friday, Jason Loney, Scheels' vice president of store development, said a final agreement had not been finalized between the North Dakota retailer and the mall. It's not unusual for participants in a development deal to delay signing until all official approvals are obtained

January 16, 2014

Downtown parking lot sells for $2.8M

Developers continue to jockey for position in downtown Rochester, with the latest move being Titan Development's $2.8 million purchUSbanklotase of a large parking lot.

Rochester's Titan, the organization spearheaded by Andy and Gus Chafoulias, bought the 1.4-acre lot at 402 First Ave. S.W. from U.S. Bank on Dec. 31. It's a large piece of open land next to US Bank's downtown branch.

"It's an important piece of real estate as it relates to the urban village development in that area, but we don't really have a plan for it at the moment," said John Beltz, Titan's vice president of brand management and development.

WordsplayerstheaterThis buy enhances Titan's position in that part of downtown. The local firm also bought the Words Players youth theater building, just around the corner at 12 Fourth St. S.W. Beltz described it as "a forward thinking investment," when it happened at last summer. The 63-year-old building cost $400,000.

"There's no question that it (the U.S. Bank lot combined with the Words Players building) assembles a very important piece of downtown that we want to do something constructive with and something complimentary to the downtown master plan as we go forward," said Beltz. "But what that looks like, we just don't know yet."

U.S. Bank's branch at 401 First Ave. S.W. sits at the center of that "very important piece of downtown." And the bank plans to remain there.

"The branch will continue to operate with parking and drive-through banking access," said Pat Swanson, U.S. Bank's spokesman in response to emailed questions.

In fact, U.S. Bank even has permit applications in the pipeline to renovate the 37-year old brick building. The branch has 15 employees based there.

Does being surrounded by possible future development cause U.S. Bank any concern about the future of its branch?

"We’re pleased to see growth and development in Rochester," responded Swanson by email.

January 04, 2014

Sign guy ready to brave cold temps

You've probably seen Paul La France or one of his co-workers standing at an intersection in the past few weeks holding an eight-foot-tall Sears Going Out of Business sale sign.

While drivers in heated cars go by, the sale sign holders stand along the streets in five hour shifts for $8 an hour.

SignguyThis is the final weekend for the Sears sign holding gig and it's going to be a brutal one to be out in the frigid weather.

On Saturday afternoon, it was a "balmy" 17 degrees. La France was huddled behind his sign at the intersection of South Broadway and U.S. 14.

"Yeah, I'm kinda freezing. My feet are frozen even though I have three pairs of socks on," said La France, while trying to see through eyeglasses that had iced over from the cold. His voice was muffled by his camouflage mask covering his face.

Despite the forecasts of historic frigid temps moving into the area Sunday, he planned on another five hour shift standing at the corner with the sign. La France describes himself as homeless.

"I'm not a panhandler. I don't want to beg," he says. The cold weather, however, has inspired some drivers to stop and give him hot chocolate or even hand warmers.

He makes it clear that he's not looking for handouts. This is his job, even though it's one that not a lot of people would be eager to take on. La France dismisses suggestion that it's not an easy way to make $8 an hour.

"I've had worst jobs," he says.