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65 posts categorized "barfly buzz"

April 17, 2014

Ex-bar will soon house memorial services

The former Mickey's Irish Saloon building is getting a very different tenant soon.

Rochester Cremation Services is re-working the former bar building at 1605 Civic Center Drive N.W.

04162014mickeysMike Johnson, who owns Rochester Cremation, hopes to be in his new site by end of the month. It's located in a high profile spot on Civic Center Drive, just west of the Hy-Vee grocery store in the Barlow Plaza.

"It's a big project," he said of transforming the saloon into a funeral home.

Funeral Director Johnson explained that his cremation business simply has outgrown its current location at 14 Sixth St. N.W. After a long search, he picked the Civic Center building as the best choice. Johnson is leasing the building, which is owned by Gary Mattison.

"We simply need to have a bigger building for memorial services. A lot of people today don't have their own church any more, so they turn to us," he said.

While there will be memorial services there, the cremation process will not take place in the Civic Center building — it will be done elsewhere.

Mickey Clark opened Mickey's Irish Saloon there in 2004. The bar, which was known for its large St. Patrick's Day party and for hosting boxing/mixed martial arts bouts, closed its doors in May 2013.

April 14, 2014

Bowling alley upgrade picking up and a new name

A rolling renovation of a long-time Rochester sports venue is picking up speed as well as a new name.
Bowlocity Logo Final-1
Construction has been underway for months to double the size of the bowling alley at 2810 N. Broadway. That expansion is adding much more than just more lanes. A new two-story laser tag arena, a large arcade, three party rooms are all coming soon along with a special eight-lane area with its own bar for private groups.

Gene Glorvigen and his son, Erin, say the more than 50-year-old business is shifting gears so the soon-to-be-completed entertainment center upgrade can keep up with today's fast-paced world.

All of these changes mean the old name, Recreation Lanes, doesn't fit with the updated center. That means commuters will see signs for Bowlocity (sounds like velocity) going up at the end of this month.

"Recreation Lanes has been a great name for us, but we wanted to have something that encompasses everything we are now," explains524fa3b840ece.image Erin Glorvigen. "I think it fits well."

And for the classic neon fans out there, don't worry about the big red sign featuring a bowling pin and the word "Bowl." That retro landmark will remain, though it's moving to the north side of the building.

While they are rolling out the new name now, it will be a little longer until all of the new features are online. Construction is on track for everything to launch by the end of May, according to Glorvigen.

Work on the colorful eight-lane party area is underway now. Specialists are coming soon to create the atmosphere for the laser tag tower. The 45 arcade games are expected to start arriving this week.

While the arcade will allow players to trade in points for prizes, it won't have two things most such arcades have.

"It's a token-less and ticket-less system. You just buy a card and use it to play the games. The card keeps track of your points and you use it to redeem them for prizes," says Glorvigen. 

March 19, 2014

Flamingos + Elks = Bingo

After months of waiting, a Rochester nonprofit finally has scored permission to move to a new home.

Flamingo Bingo, which raises money for the Rochester Senior Center, has been given the green light by the Minnesota Gambling Control Board to move into the Elks Lodge 1091 at 1652 U.S. 52 North in the Hillcrest Shopping Center.

FlamingobingoIt's moving out of its long-time leased home at 2828 U.S. 52 North, which was sold to Luther Automotive Group in January.

Deb Nusbaum, Flamingo Bingo's charitable gaming manager, says the bingo center will call its final game at its current site at 1 p.m. on March 30. Then, Nusbaum and her team of 16 employees will move the operation.

She plans to kick off the new round of games at the Elks Lodge on April 4. Work on the new Flamingo Bingo site is underway.

The Elks Lodge members are very positive about bringing Flamingo Bingo into its facility, according to the club president.

"It's multi-faceted for us," said Chris Holloway, when the plan first was announced in December. "We have an excess of space that we don't use on a daily basis. We're both charitable organizations. There's a lot of crossover in our clientele. Plus it brings in additional revenue."

ElkslodgeNow that the move is in motion, the question is what will happen to the 42-year-old building where Flamingo Bingo has been been based since it opened in 2007.

Twin Cities-based Luther Automotive bought the building for $950,000 on Jan. 17. Luther also owns the nearby Park Place Motors dealership on the same frontage road.

Luther's Linda McGinty said the company does not have a specific plan for the site yet.

McGinty, director of real estate and development at Luther Automotive Group, declined to discuss whether its possible plans could include an expansion of Park Place Motors or possibly bringing a new dealership into the market.

However, she did acknowledge that Luther will "probably eventually remove the building."

December 06, 2013

Two Rochester nonprofit "animals" may move in together

Two of Rochester's nonprofit "animals," Flamingo Bingo and the Elks Lodge 1091, are looking to possibly move in together in early 2014.

Both organizations have generally agreed on a plan to have Flamingo Bingo move into the Elk's large Lodge Room at 1652 U.S. 52 North in the Hillcrest Shopping Center.

However, no lease has been signed yet. The proposed project is subject to the final approval from the state, which is needed before anything happens.

Flamingobingo"Both organizations are very excited about this," says Deb Nusbaum, Flaming Bingo's charitable gaming manager.  "We anticipate that we'll eventually be moving there, but there are a lot of details to work through yet with the Minnesota Gambling Control Board."

Flamingo Bingo, which raises money for the Rochester Senior Center, has called games at 2828 U.S. 52 North since it opened in 2007. It is now looking for a new home due to coming changes to its building, which previously housed Circus World bingo.

Nusbaum stressed that Flamingo Bingo is open for business at its current spot along U.S. 52 North and will remain so until it moves, probably in early 2014.

Flamingo Bingo's fund raising efforts are "critical" to supporting the Rochester Senior Center, she says. It's annual financial goal, which it met in 2012, is to raise at least $100,000 for the senior center, according to Nusbaum. The bingo parlor has 16 employees on staff.

For their part, the Elks members see a lot of benefits in bringing Flamingo Bingo into its facility.

"It's multi-faceted for us," says Chris Holloway, the current club president. "We have an excess of space that we don't use on a daily basis. We're both charitable organizations. There's a lot of crossover in our clientele. Plus it brings in additional revenue."

March 04, 2013

Historic Third getting a new bar?

Rochester's Historic Third St. S.W. is really hopping these days with The Tap House, The Downtown Kitchen, Sontes, Bilotti's and, of course, John Kruesel (He is as much of an attraction and landmark as any historic building in downtown).

And now the buzz is that a new bar is in the pipeline for the Med City's coolest side street.03042013doggeryonerd1

A liquor license request is on the agenda for tonight's Rochester City Council meeting.

The name is The Doggery and the address is 18 Third Ave. S.W. That's old Mercentile Exchange building.

03042013doggeryon3rd2The name on the license is Aynsley Michael Jones. He's a high-profile downtown bartender, who I believe was at City Cafe the last I heard of him.

That's all I've got for now. Not sure where it would be in the building or if it would impact Artistic Framers or Nordic Gypsy.




October 16, 2012

Are Irish eyes eyeing Roch.?

While St. Patrick's Day is many months away, some Rochester folks are wishing that the luck of the Irish will bring their favorite pub to town.

The word is that staff at a well-known pub in a nearby state are telling Rochester customers that their Irish eyes are looking at the Med City for a possible second location.

Could such a Gaelic invasion really be on the way for Rochester or is this just some blarney from a server hoping for a bigger tip to add to his pot of gold?

I have no idea, but I plan on going to the end of the rainbow to find out.

October 03, 2012

New south Roch bar wants to be talk of the town

A new bar on the way for south Rochester hopes to be the talk of the town.

Following the Rochester City Council giving his liquor license a thumbs up Monday, Gary Wondrow is now starting to work out the details of his new project, the Chatterbox bar at 2650 S. Broadway in the former Quizno's site.

While many aspects of the new bar are still being talked through, there is one core concept that Wondrow plans to build Chatterbox around.

04quiznos"Often when you go out to a bar, the music and everything is so loud that you can't hear to talk to person next to you," he says. "I want to have a comfortable place where a couple or some friends can go out for a drink and be able to have a quiet conversation, relax and unwind."

However, the Chatterbox won't be a library. It will sport TVs to show the big games, so fans can cheer their teams on.

"Mostly, I just want it to be a low-key place that people can go and enjoy themselves," he says.

If things go as expected, Chatterbox could open in the 1,600-square-foot spot by early December.

Why chose to open a night spot in a strip mall by Kohl's and Walmart?

"It has real good exposure to highway. You can't miss the place," Wondrow says. "There just isn't anything like this in that area now. I hope to draw from the nice neighborhood across the road."

While the Chatterbox won't have its own kitchen, it will have some food options. The plan is to offer a selection of appetizers and dishes from the nearby New China restaurant.

Mike Haley of Braasch Commercial Real Estate handled the deal.

September 21, 2012

Two new Roch. businesses opened this week

Two new Med City businesses, which have been gearing up this summer, opened their doors this week.

IMG_20120920_144504Under new ownership, an expanded Northwest Liquors re-opened by Gander Mountain. Irv Keefe of IK Liquors took over the store in the Northwest Plaza from Apollo Liquors at the end of August.

Hat tip to Emmett Salberg for the pic of Northwest Liquors. Thanks, Emmett.

Rooster's Bar'n and Grill quietly opened up Wednesday night and started serving its early morning breakfast on Thursday morning. Rooster's is located along West Circle Drive in the former Bob's Smokestack Ribs/Catch-22 building.

I got a note from Ross Manahan, a co-owner of Rooster's on Thursday saying the opening went really well.

"… We really believe we delivered what we promised to take a re-energize a stark looking facility into a warm friendly and comfortable neighborhood bar and grill feel where everyone can relax and have fun," he wrote.


September 20, 2012

It is lunch time at Sontes

A downtown Rochester landmark is now cooking in a new time zone — the lunch hour.

Sontes, which previously only served evening meals, opened at 11 a.m. Monday to launch its new lunch offerings.

While it is being served in the same 137-year-old building at Historic Third and South Broadway where it has operated since 2006, the name on the lunch menu is different.
"We're actually treating it like a restaurant within a restaurant. We call it Sontes Too," says owner Tessa Leung. "While it is still our building and it is still our quality food served in our style, the lunches are much more traditional. But they are still from-farm-to-table and made from scratch."

Than means Sontes' younger sibling won't be serving tapas or small plates like its big sister. Expect lunch fare like a buttermilk grilled chicken sandwich, blue cheese wedge salad and carrot cake.

Chef Bryce Lamb is also making soups and fresh bread for lunches. The menu offers gluten-free and vegetarian options.

With its reputation for fine dining, Sontes might not be a place people might think of when debating where to grab a noontime bite or for a lunch meeting. However, the first few lunch hours have started to change that.

"It is going well. I think people are pleasantly surprised that it is very fast and it is a lot of food," says Leung.

The new name is fitting, because the lunch incarnation of the tapas restaurant is like seeing an old friend in a new setting. Compared to Sontes after dark, it is familiar and yet different, she says.

"The restaurant looks completely different during the day. It is much lighter, more open and we don't have the tapas plates on the tables," Leung says.

Sontes Too serves lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. At 2 p.m., it changes into serving an "in-between menu" of lighter choices. Then the more mature and well-known Sontes takes back over at 4 p.m.

To expand its hours, the restaurant needed to expand its staff. Leung added three employees, to bring her team up to 27 staffers.

Why the decision to start serving lunch after six years of only dinners?

"We've been asked to do lunch quite a bit actually," she says. "Rochester has been really kind to us. They've been asking, so we listened."

August 25, 2012

New owner to take over, expand Med City liquor store

A Med City liquor store is about to go through the blender, but it's expected to have a familiar flavor when the new version is poured back into the mix.

Apollo Liquors is leaving its store at 3514 55th St. N.W. at the end of the month, when its lease ends.

However, a new owner is stepping into the spot to keep it going as Northwest Liquors, which is what it has been called for the past 10 years in the space next to Gander Mountain.

Irv Keefe plans to take over as the owner and re-open the store under the same name of Northwest Liquors. He has already hired most of the current staff and the manager to stay on there.

"Customers will still see the same faces, when they come in," he says.
Construction is under way to expand the store to 6,200 square feet from its current 4,500 square feet. Look for that work to speed up after Friday, when Apollo leaves.

Keefe hopes to re-open the new version of the store by mid- to late September.

He plans to use the additional space to bring in a 60-foot, state-of-the-art cooler to expand the store's micro beer offerings. He also will add more varieties of other products and a new wine tasting area to the store.

Meanwhile, Ari Kolas has his own project in the works. He is still putting the finishing touches on the deal, so watch this column for more details in the near future.

Once Northwest Liquors closes, Apollo will have four stores in Rochester. It also has a store in Austin, where the chain was originally founded by Nick Kolas.

Keefe says while he has long worked as a distributor in the alcohol business, this is his first step into the retail side of things.

"It is something I've always wanted to do," he says. "It is a challenge. I've always liked a challenge."

With the idea of eventually opening a store somewhere, he acquired an off-sale liquor license from the city of Rochester back in March.

"There were only so many of them," Keefe explains. "So I decided to grab one while I could."

Some buzz has been going around that this new store will be linked to Rochester's Chafoulias family. They own Apollo's prime competitor, Andy's Liquor.

Not so, says Keefe. He explains that he is the owner, not the Chafoulias family.

The only connection to the Chafoulias family is that he does work for their company, Titan Development Group.