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79 posts categorized "barfly buzz"

May 13, 2016

Celebrity chef leaves Kahler hotels

Chef Stewart "Shefzilla" Woodman's short tenure in Rochester is over.

The award-winning chef and cookbook author came to the Med City in September to take the reins of the culinary operations of the Kahler Grand Hotel and its sister hotels. The Kahler Hospitalit5672b9df89d09.imagey Group'srestaurants include The Grand Grill, Salute, Martini's, Crossings Bistro, Lord Essex, Freshens and Dunkin Donuts.

The hotels and restaurants are controlled and owned, in part, by local health-care executive and real estate developer Javon Bea and his family.

While it seemed last fall that the high-profile chef was planning for a long run in Rochester, Twin Cities media is reporting that Woodman started a new job this week as executive chef at Lela. Lela is a high-end Minneapolis eatery located on the northwest corner of Interstate 494 and Highway 100.

Mpls.St. Paul Magazine is reporting that Woodman is excited about the new role, because his gig in Rochester did not allow him much time to actually cook or manage a kitchen.

Michael Henry, Kahler's managing director of human resources, didn't return either a call or an email  today asking for details about the change and if Woodman has been replaced yet.

Kahler Hospitality has been tweaking its restaurants in recent years to keep up with the increasingly competitive Rochester food scene. Woodman's departure could set that process back a bit.

Prior to Woodman, Kahler Hospitality employed Chef Pasquale Presa from 2011 to 2015 to spice up its menus. Chef Pasquale is now the executive chef at Kalahari Resorts & Conventions in the Wisconsin Dells.


April 01, 2016

Bleu Duck Kitchen cooking in downtown Rochester

Two area chefs are creating a downtown Rochester restaurant to offer "an eclectic mix of adventurous and innovative comfort food" in a historic building.

Chefs Erik Kleven and Erik Paulsen are fulfilling their dreams of opening their own place, the Bleu Duck Kitchen, by taking over the entire first floor of the 115-year-old Conley-Maass building at 14 Fourth St. SW. That's the brick building being renovated by owners Traci and Hunter Downs

15.006_Final Model - Restaurant Image 1 (1)"This is a great chance to break out on our own," said Kleven, currently the executive chef at Four Daughters Vineyard in Spring Valley.

Creating a 60-seat "New American Bistro"-style restaurant with a separate special events space in the Conley-Maas building is a particularly good fit, said Paulsen. who also worked at Four Daughters as Riverside on the Root and Vintage in Lanesboro.

"The building is in tune with we're doing," he said. "We're going to serve classic dishes with new novel twists. We want to make interesting, but approachable food."

That translates into possible menu items, like chicken roulade with waffle bread pudding stuffing, maple syrup and collard greens or ratatouille with parmesan funnel cake and hollandaise whipped potatoes. They plan to use fresh, locally grown ingredients.

If everything goes according to plan, the duo hopes to have the Bleu Duck cooking by mid- to late August. Kleven plans to wrap up his transition from Four Daughters. They expect to have a staff of 25 to 30 working at the Bleu Duck.

Rochester architect Adam Ferrari of 9 Square is designing the restaurant with an emphasis on "letting the historic building talk." The plan is for exposed brick, mute tones with an emphasis on the kitchen.

"We'll have the focus on a bright, clean, white kitchen at the center," said Paulsen.

A small "Chef's Counter" will located by kitchen. Customers sitting there will be served special, chef-chosen dishes.

The front portion of the main floor of the building will house the dining room, bar and kitchen. The back area will be used for special private events with room to seat up to 100 people.

The pair chose the name to represent an adventurous approach to cuisine. While they were both at Four Daughters, they would have "Blue Duck" days for the staff to experiment and try out new dishes and techniques. The name cames from the Adam Sandler move, "Billy Madison." As an adult in a first grade classroom, Sandler's character drew a blue duck, "because I've never seen a blue duck." 

"We try to not take ourselves too seriously," said Paulsen.

The Conley-Maass renovation project has been lauded as an example of the kind of development that many hope Rochester's Destination Medical Center initiative attracts. The Downs see this new restaurant as being of the same spirit as their transformation of the older building into an innovative technology office center.

"We've been in discussions and talks with several interested parties about the space and it wasn't until we met the duo that we knew had the right match for the building," said Traci Downs.


March 29, 2016

Downtown #rochmn liquor store to move to new home

After about a year in the Shops at University Square shopping center, City Wines and Spirits is moving to a new downtown Rochester home as well as taking on a new name.

City-wines-and-spiritsCity Wines and Spirits is tucked away on the mall's first floor between Lenscrafters and the former Michaels Restaurant. Now the shop that bills itself as "Rochester's Only Downtown Wine, Beer and Liquor Store" is planning to move across Broadway to the lobby of the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel, according to Sheila Thoma.

The liquor store is slated to move into the retail space at the corner of Broadway and Second Street Southeast. It was last occupied by Deb Frederick's Tableside Manor gift shop, which has moved to another downtown spot.

"We are looking forward to this new location with it being right on the street and in the hotel. We are waiting to solidify a couple last steps. If all does go as intended, we plan to open early April," Thoma said via email on Monday.

Thomas is the marketing director for Titan Development & Investments, which owns University Square, the Doubletree Hotel as well as City Wines. Titan also owns Andy's Liquor, which has four Rochester locations.

As part of the move, Thoma says the store is "rebranding as Andy’s Liquor Downtown."

That will bring the number of Andy's stores in Rochester up to five.


September 17, 2015

Cocktails on the way at Mac's Restaurant

Diners at a popular Rochester eatery will soon find something new on the menu - cocktails.

Mac's Cafe and Restaurant, which has been cooking for more than 60 years on the Peace Plaza, recently was given a full liquor license. That means it can add mixed drinks to the beer and wine it already offers.

5177285Owner George Psomas says this addition is all about offering more choices, not changing the restaurant's family-friendly atmosphere.

"We're not going to be bar. We're just adding a few high-end drinks," he said. "The people have been calling for it. We're just giving the people what they want."

Expect the selections to reflect Mac's Greek heritage. Instead of a Bloody Mary, they plan to serve a Bloody Athena.

Adding cocktails to the mix is one of a few recent update for Mac's. It's Peace Plaza exterior received an extensive face-lift this summer. Plus he rolled out a new Mac's food truck, which has been making the rounds at Rochester events.

Psomas says he's fine-tuning a new offering for the food truck menu, but he's keeping the details of the new cultural combination under wraps until it's ready.

"It's going to be amazing. People that have tried it love it," he said.

August 07, 2015

Apollo Liquors Express opens Oronoco location

Apollo is coming to Oronoco.

968825_549948038406056_1931891568_nThe Oronoco Gas N Go convenience store on the east side of U.S. Highway 52 North is popping the top on a new store-within-a-store today. The Gas N Go is opening up an Apollo Liquors Express store today.

To launch the new venture, the Gas N Go is hosting a grand opening celebration today and Saturday with music, food and prize giveaways.

March 31, 2015

Newt's South ready to start cooking

Editor's note - Tip of the hat to Sean Baker of the Med City Beat for reporting on this opening first. Keep up the good work.


The new Newt's South will open its doors at 11 a.m. Wednesday, which brings the Currie brothers tally of Rochester restaurants to nine.

Restaurateurs David and Mark Currie built their latest restaurant/bar in front of Rochester's Crossroads Shopping Center.

It's serving the same full Newt's menu that's served at the original downtown Newt's, Newt's North and Newt's Express. However, this new Newt's will have 20 beers oNewtssouthatcrossroadsn tap, more than the other locations. Plus it will not serve breakfast, like Newt's North does.

The Curries have a team of about 30 staffing the new Crossroads location. That's brings the grand total of their Rochester employees to 172. That includes the four Newt's, two City Markets, City Cafe, 300 First and the Redwood Room.

"People seem really excited about it. We've had a steady stream of people coming up to the doors, since we put the signs up," said David Currie.

They built this new Newt's on the former location of Tasos Psomas' Pannekoeken Huis restaurant between the Andy's Liquor store and Home Federal Savings Bank.

Tom Graf bought Pannekoeken and demolished it in 2011 with the intention to build a second Buffalo Wild Wings. However, a legal battle with the Crossroads Shopping Center over parked quashed that plan. That's when the Curries came into the picture.

This is the first restaurant they've built from the ground up, though it looks a lot like the unusual, angular Wallins West building that houses Newt's North. That Newt's opened at 5231 U.S. 52 Frontage Road NW in 2011.

"That was very purposeful," said David Currie on Tuesday. "It is our intention to create brand standard look."

While haven't decided anything yet, the brothers are mulling over the possibility of the opening a Newt's outside of Rochester. Of course, they still have plenty on their plates in Rochester at the moment.

"It keeps us busy," he said.

March 25, 2015

Upscale craft beer pub to open in northwest Rochester

A Crooked Pint Ale House is on tap to open soon in Rochester's former Green Mill Restaurant building.

Green Mill Restaurants CEO and Crooked Pint franchisor Paul Dzubnar announced this week that the "nouveau urban pub with a local neighborhood feel" is scheduled to open on April 21 at 2723 Commerce Drive NW.

Dzubner built the 6,800-square-foot restaurant in 2006 and still owns the building. The Green Mill operated there until it abruptly closed Jan. 1.

Place_18269"Even though the Green Mill closed, we still think Rochester is a great restaurant market. We want to get right back out in front of the market," Dzubnar said on Tuesday. "I think the people of Rochester have a very good palate."

He cited the poor timing of Green Mill's opening just as the recession started and the resulting development hiatus as contributing to the restaurant's failure. The resurgence of development along West Circle Drive and Mayo Clinic's Destination Medical Center initiative makes it much more favorable to launch a new concept now, he said.

Construction crews have been revamping the restaurant for weeks. It is expected to employ between 65 and 70 people, about the same that Green Mill did.

This will be the third Crooked Pint in Minnesota and the first outside of the Twin Cities metro area. Jeremy Brown owns the Rochester Crooked Pint as well as one in Apple Valley.

“Everything at Crooked Pint is the real deal, from the menu to the furnishings to all of the local craft beers,” Brown said in an announcement.

Dzubner described the Crooked Pint concept as catering to the growing craft beer trend, while serving "upscale pub fare," like stuffed burgers, homemade tater tots and stuffed pickles.

"We think this concept is really good. While the food is upscale, it's very affordable. We offer a daily $6 burger basket lunch special," he said.

From the bar, the Crooked Pint offers 30 local and regional craft beers on tap as well as 20 wines available by the glass. It also will serve a variety of high-end bourbons and scotches.

Plans call for up to 10 more Crooked Pint locations to open in the next three years.

“Rochester is growing with a mix of business and residential, providing a great backdrop for this fabulous concept. We are excited for Crooked Pint to join the community,” Brown said.

March 17, 2015

O'Neill's Pizza goes dark before the wearing of the green

Instead of St. Paddy's green, things are blue at Rochester's O'Neill's Pizza Pub.

The popular Irish-flavored spot at 1201 S. Broadway in the Crossroads Shopping Center closed its doors for good on Saturday, after an early St. Patrick's Day party.

O'neill's"We've been happy there for 10 and half years. We've been happy with our customer base there," said Shannon O'Neill, one of the owners of the family business. "Our lease is done, so we decided to close."

She owns O'Neill's with Erin O'Neill, Brian O'Neill and Phyllis O'Neill.

O'Neill's Pizza Pub moved to that spot, the former home of the Face The Music store, in late 2004. The family originally launched the eatery in 1999 at 7 Second St. S.W. That's the former bank building, where Goonie's Comedy Club is located.

AfteroneillsOne of its pizza slingers, Cam Kvittem, made news in 2012 when he was named the second best dough slinger in Minnesota.

"If he had been able to use to the dough for our cracker crust, I'm sure Cam would have gone all the way to first," said Shannon O'Neill at that time.

Shannon O'Neill said this week that this latest closing might not be the final end of the business and it could possibly be re-kindled in Rochester. She said the family is considering starting looking for a new location, though it's too early to even consider that at this point.

March 06, 2015

10 years of blogging Rochester

On March 4, 2005, I wrote my first blog post. Kiger's Notebook blogo 2x

It was my sixth year at the Post-Bulletin. I created the "Heard on the Street" column about three years before the blog began. 

More  than 6,200 posts, stacks of columns, mountains of tweets and many gray hairs later, I'm still here writing about business and things vaguely related to businesPhoto on 2015-03-03 at 18.11s in southeastern Minnesota.

It'syou, the readers, who make this career such a fulfilling and entertaining one. Thank you everyone for your feedback, criticism and support over these past 10 years. 

10 years of blogging Rochester

On March 4, 2005, I wrote my first blog post.Kiger's Notebook blogo 2x

It was my siPhoto on 2015-03-03 at 18.11xth year at the Post-Bulletin. I created the "Heard on the Street" column about three years before the blog began. 

More than 6,200 posts, stacks of columns, mountains of tweets and many gray hairs later, I'm still here writing about business and things vaguely related to business in southeastern Minnesota.

It's you, the readers, who make this career such a fulfilling and entertaining one. Thank you everyone for your feedback, criticism and support over these past 10 years.