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268 posts categorized "Breaking news"

July 28, 2014

Mayo plans offices in former restaurant space

Mayo Clinic has decided to put administrative offices in the long-empty former Red Lobster space in downtown Rochester.

The roughly 6,000-square-foot space is on the street level of the 60-year-old Rosa Parks Pavilion building at 195 S. Broadway. Mayo bought the building for $2.37 million in 1997, and Red Lobster leased space there from 1987 until it closed in 2011 and opened in a new building by Apache Mall.
07272014exredlobsterspace
Since Red Lobster left, Mayo Clinic repeatedly has said it was looking at options for the prime downtown location. Even when Mayo Clinic began interior demolition in the former restaurant space in February, the official word was that no plans had been made for the spot.

That changed this week, when clinic officials confirmed their plans.

"We are in the process of converting the space into administrative space that can accommodate individuals and teams from different departments to co-locate for a period of time in order to collaborate on projects," Mayo's Kelley Luckstein said in an email. The space should be ready for staff to move in by November.

Given the clinic's seemingly endless need for space and its use of other nearby street-level spots for offices, the decision was not surprising, but it's disappointing for people who would like to see more street-level stores and restaurants downtown.

"Mayo Clinic did take into consideration retail space, but based on Mayo’s needs, this was the appropriate use of the space at this time," according to the statement emailed by Luckstein.

One critic of the decision is Adam Ferrari, a Rochester architect and an advocate for a more vibrant downtown. "I don't know who in public relations could defend how this is furthering the Destination Medical Center effort, but it's clearly contradictory," he said.

An official with the Rochester Downtown Alliance declined to comment on the change at this time.

While Ferarri was critical of Mayo's plans, he did acknowledge the clinic desperately is looking for office space. "Mayo is simply too hard up for space right now to let any square footage out of their grasp. That's my interpretation," he said.

July 24, 2014

Bremer Bank to acquire Eastwood Bank

St. Paul-based bank Bremer Bank announced Thursday that it's expanding into southeastern Minnesota by acquiring Rochester's Eastwood Bank.

Photo_branch_318This move quickly ramps up Bremer's presence in this area by adding Eastwood's 13 locations. Bremer has 85 branches in Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota. The nearest branch is in Owatonna, which opened in 2012. It recently broke ground to build a new bank in Eau Claire, Wis.

"This partnership is part of Bremer's overall expansion strategy of entering new markets, making acquisitions and recruiting top talent. We have been working on our expansion initiatives since 2011," said Greg Hilding, Bremer's midwest group president.

The deal is expected to close on Jan. 23, pending regulator approval. Eastwood and Bremer officials declined to discuss the financial terms of the purchase. Once it's approved, all of Eastwood's branches will change over to the Bremer name.

Brad Peters, Bremer's Southeast Minnesota region CEO, will take over the Eastwood Bank operations with Eastwood's current president Paul Tieskoetter reporting directly to Peters.

Acquiring Eastwood extends Bremer's coverage in Minnesota as well as strengthening its position as one of this region's largest financial institutions. Dave Talen, the president of Eastwood bank's holding company, described the deal as being about growth for Bremer.

"It's a great strategic fit and a great geographic fit, really with no overlap," added Hilding.

That lack of overlap with any of Bremer's locations appears to be positive for the future of Eastwood's more than 185 employees. During the next six months, Bremer will study Eastwood to determine if any adjustments are needed. However, dramatic changes don't seem likely.

"We have every intention to continue forward with these locations that Eastwood Bank has built," Hilding said while traveling to Eastwood's branches with Dave Talen to meet the staff. "It's a privalige to take over such a strong legacy. It's an opportunity and a responsibility we intend to uphold."

As of March 2014, Bremer listed assets of $8.8 billion, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC). Rochester's Think Mutual Bank had assets of $1.5 billion, Winona's Merchants Bank had $1.39 billion.

Eastwood's roots extend back to 1903 to founding of the First State Bank of Dover. That bank was later acquired by Farmers State Bank in Eyota. In 1979, Farmers State opened a Rochester branch and called it Eastwood. First State, Farmers State and Eastwood were all combined under the name of Eastwood in 1982.

Considering the family's 75 year history with the bank and the community, the Talens say deciding to sell was took a lot of consideration.

"We have carefully considered what is best for our shareholders, customers, communities and employees," stated Eastwood Bank Chair James Talen. "And we believe the decision to become part of the Bremer organization is the right choice for meeting the best interests of all of these groups."

Dave Talen, James' son, echoed that sentiment. "We wanted someone who would carry on what we've built. Bremer is a good cultural fit with Eastwood," he said.

Both James and Dave Talen will remain with the organization through 2015 "to assist with the transition," according to Bremer Bank.

July 17, 2014

New plan: Newt's at Crossroads

After years in limbo, a plan to build a restaurant/bar in front of Rochester's Crossroads Shopping Center once again is moving ahead.

However, it won't be the long anticipated Buffalo Wild Wings. Instead, it'll be the latest version of Rochester's iconic eatery, Newt's.

Rochester restaurateurs David and Mark Currie are working on plans to build Newt's South as their ninth local restaurant. Their Creative Cuisine restaurants are the original downtown Newt's, the City Cafe, City Market Deli Downtown, City Market Deli South, the Redwood Room, 300 First, Newt's Express and Newt's North.

The project is in its early stages, so it may be a while before construction starts on the large rectangle of dirt and grass.

"If I could break ground today, I would," said David Currie, who owns and runs Creative Cuisine with his brother. "But I'm going to say it will be in the six-month range before it really gets going."

The sibl07162014bbwsignings are buying the site between the Andy's Liquor store and Home Federal Savings Bank from Tom Graf. Graf originally had hoped to build Rochester's second Buffalo Wild Wings there, but a series of legal disputes over parking eventually quashed that plan. The development plan, approved by the city, called for extending BWW's parking onto Crossroads property to have the required number of spaces.

Parking shouldn't be an issue for the new Newt's project because it will be smaller than Graf's proposed BWW. That means the restaurant and all of the required parking should both fit on the island of land in the Crossroads parking lot.

"I thought the Curries could make the best use of the space with the size of what they want to put on it," said Graf. "At the end of the day, it's a win for the shopping center."

07162014newtssouth1The first generation of Creative Cuisine dates to the 1960s with Jerry Zubay and Mike Currie, the father of Dave and Mark. Building a ninth restaurant will add to an already full plate for the brothers.

"The business is a lot of fun. We both love it and enjoy it. We're blessed to work with a ton of great people. That makes it super enjoyable," said Dave Currie of why they decided to open a new place.

Creative Cuisine employs 141 people. The Curries estimate Newt's South will need 20 to 30 employees.

This will be the first time the Curries have opted to construct a new building rather than adapt and renovate an existing site. They had shopped for a south Rochester spot for about a year before the Crossroads deal worked out.

"Building from the ground up took a lot more thought going into it. We're used to finding a 100-year-old building and then working with it," said David Currie.

They plan to build a restaurant similar in look and size to the quirky Newt's North location, which opened in 2011 inside the Wallin Building at 5231 U.S. 52 Frontage Road N.W.

The genesis for the project dates to 2011, when Graf purchased Tasos Psomas' Pannekoeken Huis restaurant and demolished it to make way for a second Rochester BWW.

Even though Graf decided "it just made sense" to have the Curries build on the site, it doesn't mean he's abandoning his own restaurant plans.

"There will eventually be another Buffalo Wild Wings in Rochester. It will happen. The city's big enough for at least one more," he said.

July 14, 2014

Ex-Pump & Munch to make way for new Caribou Coffee shop

More caffeine is on its way through Rochester's development pipeline.

A long-empty ex-BP Pump & Munch building at 451 16th Ave. N.W. is slated to be cleared away to make room for a new Caribou Coffee shop in northwest Rochester.

16thavepumpandmunchThe 1,804-square-foot stand-alone Caribou Coffee shop is planned for the high-profile spot, which will give the Minnesota coffee company access to both Civic Center Drive Northwest and the increasingly busy 16th Avenue North. The sit-down shop also will have a drive-through window.

Site plans still are working their way through official channels, but Mona Keehn says the hope is for the demolition and construction to begin yet this year.

Rick and Mona Keehn, who also own the Cariboucoffeedrawingadjacent Automotive Procare, bought the 3,000-square-foot building in 2011 for more than $730,000. They had hoped to find a tenant to lease it.

"We just couldn't find a good match," said Mona Keehn. "And then this came up."

042909pumpmunchBPciviccenter1jkIn the summer of 2009, all six of Rochester's BP Pump & Munch c-stores closed their doors for good. Since then, five of those buildings have either been re-purposed or demolished.

However, the 16th Avenue Pump & Munch has stood pretty much as it did in 2009. And now it will give up its spot for a new place for Rochester's growing population to grab a cup of coffee.

June 30, 2014

Hormel bulks up portfolio by buying maker of Muscle Milk

Austin-based Hormel Foods Corp. is bulking up its portfolio of companies by buying the maker of Muscle Milk protein drinks for $450 million.

UrlHormel, which produces Spam, Jennie-O Turkey and Skippy Peanut Butter among many other products, announced Monday evening that it had signed a deal to buy Benicia, Calif.-based CytoSport Holdings, Inc.

“Muscle Milk products will serve as a growth catalyst for our Specialty Foods segment, providing this division with a leading brand in the high-growth sports nutrition category,” stated Hormel CEO and President Jeffrey M. Ettinger in the press announcement. “The acquisition of CytoSport expands our offerings of portable, immediate, protein-rich foods, and broadens our appeal with younger consumers.”

Spammy2Muscle Milk power and drinks are used by many bodybuilders as muscle-building boost. It's considered the top brand in the ready-to-drink protein drink category. CytoSport launched Muscle Milk in 2000 and its grown to be its most popular brand. The company also makes other products like protein bars, oatmeal and ready-to-drink products.

Hormel anticipates CytoSport's total 2014 sales to hit an estimated $370 million. The deal is expected to officially close within 30 days.

CytoSport, which is owned by the Pickett family, first started talking to potential buyers in the fall of 2013. Hormel was considered a possible buyer from the start, along with Irish cheese maker Glanbia and Colorado-based butter and soy milk maker Whitewave Foods. The early pricing talk in 2013 was that CytoSport was looking for $500 million for the company.

Hormel already has a protein drink product line made by Hormel Health Labs, but HealthyShot drinks are aimed at medical patients and seniors who have trouble eating or swallowing.

This is acquisition follows another Hormel non-meat protein buy in 2013, when it bought Unilever's Skippy peanut-butter business for $700 million.

June 23, 2014

Rochester's Dunkin' Donuts to open at end of month

Doughnuts should be dunking before the fireworks start launching.

Rochester's new Dunkin' Donuts, the first to operate in Minnesota since 2005, is prepping for a late June "soft" opening. The return of DD is happening at 15 First Ave. S.W. in the Kahler Grand Hotel complex in the heart of downtown.

06232014dunkindonuts"We're in good shape," says Donna Caflisch, who represents Rochester Retail Services. "We're working hard on training now to make sure we're ready with good customer service."

So if you smell doughnuts in downtown during the next few weeks, it probably won't be your imagination. The staff is rolling through lots of training batches.

While Caflisch already has a full team of about 30 employees on staff, she says they still are hiring people that help with DD or other projects. Rochester Retail Services also manages the new Freshens franchise in the Kahler Inn & Suites and is working on a second one in the subway of the Marriott Hotel. That second Freshens could open its doors, if everything goes according to plan, in early August. It's located in the space that last housed the long-time downtown shop, The Crate.

She says the early responses to recent opened Freshens in the Kahler Inn have been very positive.

"People seem to be excited to see some variety in their (downtown) menu choices," said Caflisch.

When asked about speculation that a second Dunkin' is being planned for southeast Rochester, she said she couldn't comment.

While all of the franchises managed by Rochester Retail Services are located in downtown hotels owned by the Kahler Hospitalty Group and the firm offices in the Kahler, Caflisch stressed that there is absolutely no direct connection between any of the owners of the Kahler hotels and the owners of the restaurant franchises. However, she declined to identify who actually owns the franchises.

Rochester's Dunkin' Donuts franchisee, Donuts Non Traditional LLC, incorporated in October 2014. The address it uses is Rochester's Dunlap & Seeger law firm. That's the same address used for Rochester Retail Services, which incorporated in March 2013. It's not unusual for some companies to use their attorneys' address for such filings.

June 17, 2014

Brandix i3 'graduates' from Accelerator, leases BioBusiness Center space

Another start-up is "graduating" from the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator to lease office space in Rochester's Minnesota BioBusiness Center.

02272013mayoaccelerator1As a parting gift, it is providing the Accelerator with a short-term solution to its need to expand by  providing space for it to use.

Brandix i3, the healthcare technology arm of a Sri Lanka-based company, has signed a three-year lease with the City of Rochester for 2,000-square-feet of space on the skyway level of the center at  221 First Ave. S.W. The space is half of a 4,000-square-foot area that never hasHeader been built out for a tenant since the BioBusiness Center opened five years ago.

The software development firm plans to have six employees based in the Rochester office to start with, though it expects to grow to 12 by the end of the year, said Aaron Epps, Brandix's associate vice president of healthcare.

"We want to be part of the Destination Medical Center project," said Epps. "We're looking to expand quickly. We're a start-up, but we're a start-up with the backing of a large company."

051509biobusinesscenteratnightBrandix currently is operating out of the Accelerator space. The lease that was approved by the city council Monday sets Brandix's rent at $20 per rentable foot for the 2,000-square-foot space. It also will pay its share toward the maintenance of the building and its taxes.

The city is giving "a one-time fit-up allowance" of $10 per square foot, or $20,000, to the software firm to prepare its offices.

By comparison, the city signed a five-year lease in 2013 with Patient First Home Infusion Services for $16 per square foot and gave it $10,000 to use for construction costs.

In 2013, Imanis Life Sciences signed a five-year lease set at $15.50 per square foot for the first two years.  It then increases every year to $18.50 by the fifth year. The city also agreed to provide Imanis a $20 per foot allowance to build out the space plus an interest-free loan of up to $10,000.

In addition to the leasing the 2,000-square-feet, Brandix's lease promises "first right of refusal" for the other 2,000 square feet of adjacent vacant space to the west.

"In the interim, the Business Accelerator may lease the adjacent space until such time as it is needed by Brandix," according to the lease. There has been talk of expanding the Accelerator, which opened in 2009.

Epps, who has lived his whole life in Rochester, says the company plans to create a "unique" office to enhance the local business community.

Brandix's focus is to work with its local partner, Rochester-based Ambient Clinical Analytics. Ambient makes "real-time decision support tools" for doctors and nurses working in the ICU, operating room or emergency departments.

Mayo Clinic launched Ambient in 2013, and it named Al Berning as CEO. Berning is known in Rochester as a former IBMer, a co-founder of Pemstar and former CEO of Hardcore Computers/LiquidCool Solutions.

June 09, 2014

Mayo Clinic eliminates 14 nurse positions in Rochester

Mayo Clinic eliminated 14 discharge planning nurse positions in Rochester on June 2 in an effort to improve efficiency.

800px-Gonda_building,_closer_up"To improve service to patients and eliminate duplication of effort, Mayo Clinic is shifting some of the discharge planning work to other resources," explained Spokesman Bryan L. Anderson of why the Rochester positions were cut.

Anderson said that all 14 nurses impacted by the change were "offered the opportunity to select other nursing roles at Mayo Clinic."

He added that, "Some opted to retire/leave Mayo."

Unlike last week's announcement about Mayo Clinic Health Systems eliminating 188 medical transcriptionist positions in Wisconsin by outsourcing with a Madison company, the planning nurse nurse duties will not move outside the clinic.

Anderson said the discharge planning work has been shifted to other "internal resources."

May 29, 2014

Second Salvation Army store to open

Rochester should have two Salvation Army thrift stores within a few months.

Work has started in a 1,400-square-foot space in the Slumberland Center at 4909 U.S. 52 North, along the frontage road, according to David Ferber, the local director of community engagement for the Salvation Army.

The space is being divided to set up a sales floor separated from the donation sorting area.

E06c662a-9cf7-4fa6-b6ed-565c49263db1The hope is to have it ready to open by late summer or more likely by early fall.

The Salvation Army is leasing the space from Lou Grimaldi, who owns Slumberland as well as the commercial space behind the store. It will be about half the size of the current south Rochester thrift store at 201 Ninth St. S.E., though it will offer the same mix of donated clothing, household goods, toys, books and more.

"We have been working on this for a while. We realized there was a need in Rochester for another store," Ferber said. "Our customers have told us that they want a northwest store."

He credited Grimaldi with helping to finally make this project a reality. While the location is not as visible as most traditional stores want, Ferber says it is a good fit for the Salvation Army.

"We're a destination. I think people will find us," he said.

The Salvation Army's thrift store always has been popular in Rochester, though it has been located in different spots.

Since 2006, the thrift store has been in its spot in the west end of the Kmart center. Its former building downtown now is used for its Caring Partners Adult Day Program.

In recent years, the resale market has grown in Rochester, with Savers, Goodwill and several private shops opening or expanding. That has served Salvation Army well, as more than 80 percent of the sale of each donated item is used to support Rochester programs.

"We have an amazingly generous community," said Brad Dahlke, who is assistant manager of the current store and will be in charge of the new north Rochester location.

Dahlke anticipates it will take about 15 to 18 employees to staff the new store. The current one has about 28 staffers.

He says Rochester always has responded well to the Salvation Army's store with donations as well as shoppers. Some frequent the store for its inexpensive basics. However, others shop like it's a "treasure hunt."

"Lots of antique dealers and collectors shop the store," Dahlke said.

While finding that valuable item is rare, it does happen occasionally. He recalled the story of a person who bought a dusty floor lamp for $5 and re-sold it for $5,600.

May 23, 2014

New Amish furniture store opens in southwest Rochester

Rochester's newest Amish-made furniture store opened its doors for the first time Thursday. 10356346_241722129357743_6258011130625535514_n

Deutsch Furniture Haus opened its 7,700-square-foot store at 3551 Commercial Drive Southwest in the old Mill's Fleet Farm building along South U.S. 63. ApplianceSmart occupies the rest of the building.

Two Rochester couples, Brian and Michelle Rand along with Philip and Nissa Kraling, are excited to have the business rolling along. They even have an Amish buggy out front.

"We ha 10382875_243297112533578_8444091897688806088_nve something for every room — the bedroom, dining room, office, nursery, pretty much everything," said Michelle Rand.

They even carry a line of Amish-made mattresses.

All of the furniture is crafted by Amish families in southern Minnesota and some in northern Indiana.

As a sideline, Brian Rand sold furniture made by local Amish for five years online. It eventually grew to the point that they decided it was time to open a store. Brian Rand and Philip Kraling are brothers, so it's a family-owned-and-operated business.

The Rands and the Kralings have a grand opening event planned for June 12-14. It will include a drawing for prizes.

To be respectful of the furniture makers' beliefs, the new store will not be open on Sundays. Amish beliefs also factored into why the word Amish was not included in the store's name. It is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.