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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.

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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 30, 2015

Rochester's Kismet to open the door to 'Mad Men' style

Behind door #1 is a blast from the past plus a new name on Rochester's North Broadway block of consignment shopping.

KismetdoorPenny Bracken, known for her three Kismet stores on the 600 block of North Broadway, closed off the back third of the Kismet Home store with a sliding, barn-style door this winter. The mysterious door has spurred her loyal customers to speculate for months about what's behind it.

And now as spring slowly starts in Minnesota, Bracken is ready to unveil her winter project. The doors will officially open on Wednesday, though she isn't waiting until April 1 to discuss it.

"It's called Kismet Etc.," she said. "That's where we've been collecting hip, modern furniture and decor with that clean 'Mad Men,' Boho chic style."

Bracken says she and her staff have been watching the interest in this style grow over the past couple of years and they decided to create an area to spotlight it for shoppers.

"The trend right now is that people, especially young people, are really attracted to the clean lines of this mid-century style," said Bracken.

She also has changes planned for the exterior of the 611 North Broadway store. The name, Kismet Etc., will go up on the sign outside. That will make the lineup of stores on "Penny Lane" as Kismet Consignment Fashions at 601 N. Broadway, Kismet Central at 607 N. Broadway and Kismet Etc. at 611 North Broadway.

Besides opening the doors on Wednesday, a Kismet spring tradition also will happen on Wednesday. The new Kismet billboard will go up over the store. While "Chloe," the stylish woman in the hat, will still be part of it, a new circular wave design will make its appearance as Kismet's new logo. Look for Chloe to be holding it.

The long mural on the side of the 611 North Broadway building also will be updated to reflect the new look and style. Bracken is planning to take down about 16 feet of the current mural and have it replaced by new work by popular Rochester muralist Greg Wimmer. 

March 26, 2015

Furniture store owners buy building for $5 million

A year after quadrupling the size of their businesses by leasing the former Menards North store, two Rochester retailers have purchased the building for $5 million.

Jim Sather and Mark Byer moved Furniture Superstore and America's Mattress into the complex at 5150 U.S. 52 North last spring, shortly after Mernards moved to a new store. They were leasing the huge store and the surrounding 10 acres of property with an option to buy it after a year.

They closed on the deal to buy it for $5.09 million from John Mernard Jr. on March 17.

"Our intent all along was to buy the building," Sather said Wednesday. "Business has been stellar here. That and outstanding support from Bremer Bank helped make this happen. It's a big deal for us."

Sather and Byer also bought the adjacent Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft store for $2.4 million on the same day, but they immediately sold it to Rochester-based Brackenridge 52 LLC for $3.4 million. While it's unclear who the new owners are, it appears the very successful Jo-Ann Fabric store will remain where it is for now.

Now that they own the building, Sather and Byer plan to upgrade their store. The first step is to remodel inside the store and then reface the building within the next 12 months or so, Sather said.

A team of 18 employees staff the furniture/mattress store. However, it isn't just retail sales that's driving the business. They are renting out portions of the former Menards outdoor lumber yard for boat and RV storage. Other businesses, including a trucking firm, are  using the yard for storage.

They also are considering other business possibilities on the land in front of and behind the facility.

"We'll see what happens," Sather said.

Cardio3 reports losing $18 million in 2014

Cardio3 released a financial report today with a lot of interesting tidbits like it's building in the Minnesota BioBusiness Center due to an agreement with Mayo Clinic.

Also it's developing a U.S. headquarters… in Boston.

Here's most of my article on this:

The Belgium-based biotech firm building a manufacturing facility in downtown Rochester reported today that it lost $18.1 million in 2014, up from the $15.9 milCardiobioscience_jpeglion it lost in 2013.

Cardio3 BioSciences, which works closely with Mayo Clinic and is taking over the fifth floor of the Minnesota BioBusiness Center, reported its financials for 2014, plus some highlights of its activities in 2015.

Cardio3 is publicly listed on the European stock markets of NYSE Euronext Brussels and NYSE Euronext Paris, although it is not traded publicly in the United States.

Mayo Clinic owned 2.69 percent of Cardio3, as of March 3. Mayo Clinic first acquired equity in Cardio3 in 2007, when it licensed stem cell research by Mayo Clinic's Dr. Andre Terzic and Dr. Atta Behfar. Its cardiopoiesis technology repairs patients' hearts by re-programming their own stem cell to regenerate cardiac tissue.

6a00d83451cc8269e201a511d8e824970c-250wiThe Hong Kong-based Medisun, which is opening an office in Rochester, owned 7.2 percent of Cardio3 on March 3.

In the years since 2007, Mayo Clinic has developed a close working relationship with the Belgian company. Mayo Clinic is participating the U.S. clinical trial of Cardio3.

"We made significant strategic, operational and financial advancements in 2014 as we seek to build C3BS into a global specialty therapeutics company," stated Cardio3 CEO Dr. Christian Homsy in the announcement.

The annual report highlighted "a non-exclusive preferred access agreement" signed with Mayo Clinic in October that cleared the way for Cardio3 to build a facility in the City of Rochester's BioBusiness Center building.

"With this agreement, Cardio3 BioSciences agreed to give preferred consideration for Rochester, Minnesota to the U.S. to build a manufacturing facility for the production of C-Cure, at a facility located adjacent to the campus of the Mayo Clinic, and the Mayo Clinic agreed to periodically review with Cardio3 BioSciences its portfolio of regenerative medicine technologies, including in the areas of cardiology and oncology, with a view towards future potential licensing," according to the Cardio3 report.

Cardio3's prototype manufacturing facility will occupy the 14,963-square-feet of space on the fifth floor of the downtown building. Mayo, which leases the fourth through eighth floors, moved its employees out of the fifth floor earlier this year. Cardio3's five-year lease calls for it to pay a rent of $18 per square foot, or $22,444.50, per month. The city agreed to pay for $600,000 in equipment and improvements to the space.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development also agreed to give Cardio3 a Minnesota Job Creation Fund award of $357,000, if the company invests $1.5 million in Rochester within a year and hires 33 employees within two years.

The ultimate goal of this project is for the city and RAEDI to eventually convince Cardio3 to build a 100,000-square-foot manufacturing facility with 350 employees in Rochester, according to officials at RAEDI.

However, Rochester is not the only city wooing the Belgium company. While the Rochester facility is Cardio3's first official U.S. location, the company's report show that it also has plans to build a U.S. headquarters in Boston, Mass.
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The company also reported that it's re-stating its 2013 financial reports "to reflect errors" found by PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

"After due consideration with its auditors, we decided that the shareholders convertible loans should have been accounted for as a financial debt instead of equity (previously called 'quasi equity') as originally posted in our 2013 financial statements, because the loans were convertible into a variable number of shares," according to today's statement from the company.

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 24, 2015

The Return of Rabe - Popular radio personality returns to Rochester

It may sound like an eight-year-old April Fool's prank, but it's no joke.

Local media icon James Rabe is returning to the Rochester radio airwaves on April 1, exactly eight years since he last signed off from the KROC-FM morning show. He is taking over morning show on TownSquare Media's Y105. Y105 belongs to the six-station radio family that includes KROC-FM, KROC-AM, Quick Country 96.5 and Z Rock.

"I was excited to jump at the opportunity," said Rabe, while on the road from Idaho to Rochester. "I totally didn't expect it and then — boom, there it was."

Rabe was a well-known personality on KROC-FM from 1991 to 2007. He went from being a weekend announcer to working the night shift. In 1997, he began hosting the morning show with radio personality Tracy McCray.

McCray moved to the AM side of KROC’s station in 2000, but Rabe stayed on in the slot until he left with co-host Cori Jensen in 2007 to move to Fargo, N.D. Rabe later moved to Twin Falls, Idaho, where just left to return to RJames-Rabe-smallerochester.

During his years in Rochester, Rabe was known for being very active in the community. He was involved with many nonprofit organizations, including an active role as a Kiwanis member adviser with the Key Club at John Marshall High School.

That history was part of what made Rabe such a good choice, said Townsquare Media's Operations Manager Brent Ackerman.

"We know about his work ethic. We know about his community involvement. We want all of our people to be active members in the community," he said. "It's a great move for our station. He's a great fit for Y105."

TownSquare has been looking for a morning host for Y105 since Tom Garrett's departure in January. The station has been teasing listeners about the identity of the new morning host for a while. It revealed Rabe's name to its VIP members on Monday.

While traveling to Rochester on Monday, Rabe described what listeners should expect from his new show.

"I like to have fun that involves the listeners. The listeners have always been the stars. It's upbeat, friendly and fun," he 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 13, 2015

A New Age shop opens in Rochester's Cooke Park Design District

The owner of a new Rochester shop hopes to fill a spiritual void in this area.

Brinn McManus opened the doors of A Beautiful Soul on Friday at 619 6th Ave. NW. That's where Culligan water used to operate until it moved to Woodlake Drive Southeast in 2006.

Beautifulsoul1McManus describes her new business as "Rochester's first New Age Metaphysical gift store." It carries a variety of things like, healing herbs, gems, crystal, jewelry and aromatherapy materials.

"There is definitely a need for this," she said. "That's obvious by how many people have been stopping by even before were ready to open."

A Beautiful Soul is also more than just a gift shop. It also has Reiki master Teri Anderson on staff to offer Reiki, reflexology and acupressure treatments on site. McManus also plans to offer individual and group mediation classes as well as hosting visiting psychic practitioners and healers for weekend events.
Bautifulsoul2
"This is something I've wanted to do for some time, but it was never the right time or the right spot," she said. "Now I feel good that we've found the right spot."

A Beautiful Soul is the latest in a string of small artistic and unique businesses that have opened recently in that once faded neighborhood. Paul Bennett opened Dwell Local,a design and art shop in the former Paw and Claws building at 602 Seventh St. NW. The Urban Easel art studio soon opened next door at 608 Seventh St. NW. A European auto repair shop, Werkstatt 533, then came in and renovated an empty brick warehouse just up the street at 533 Sixth Ave NW.

The word is that a well-known floral arts designer may also be moving into the area soon.

All of that activity is leading people like McManus and Bennett to start dubbing the northwest neighborhood as the Cooke Park Design District.

It seems like a Renaissance of sorts is underway in the Cooke Park area, so the new name seems to fit pretty well at this point.

Long-time beauty salon to close its doors

Di7zMMxi9So the Answer Man reported today that a Rochester hair salon icon is closing its doors on Saturday, after 55 years of curling, cutting, dying and styling in the Med City.

Don Williams and Nick Bowlus founded the Fashion-aire Beauty Salon back in 1960. Now the shop at 1121 Seventh St. NW is closing.

The answer Man says that the salon receptionist confirmed that owner Tonya Westrom is closing the business.

A reader dropped me a note saying his wife, who had gone to Fashion-aire for many years, was just notified that her long-standing Monday appointment has been cancelled.

March 10, 2015

Tinn's to double its Rochester footprint with 2 new shops

Rochester fans of Tinn's Grilled Philly Steak Subs soon will have twice as many places to get their favorite sandwiches.

Tinn's, originally founded by Tien Danh, is opening a shop next to Tonic across from Mayo Clinic's Saint Marys Hospital on Second Street and another one on North Broadway at the corner of First Street Northwest.

03092015tinnsalibabasTinn's General Manager Bounlot Singkeo says he hopes to have the Saint Marys location, which is next to Tonic, open possibly as soon as late May. This shop will be take-out only with no customer seating, he said.

"We saw an opportunity there. We have a lot of customers at Saint Marys," he said. "So we thought we'd give it a try."

Singkeo estimated the store could have about eight employees to staff it, when it opens.

The other Tinns shop is opening in the former Ali Baba Restaurant spot at 101 N. Broadway Ave. It's currently undergoing an extensive makeover.

If everything goes as expected, Singkeo estimated the Broadway restaurant could be ready to launch within three to four weeks. It will be a sit-down restaurant with seating for about 20, as well as take-out. It probably will have about eight to 10 employees to staff it, he said.

These two new Tinn's will complement the other two older locations at  3462 55th St. in the Northwest Plaza and in the First Avenue Food Court on the skyway level at 100 First Ave. SW.