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19 posts categorized "Burger wars"

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.

September 04, 2013

New BK to start cooking

The ever-alert Todd Schwartz spotted a sign on the new Burger King fast food eatery on Marion Road saying it's opening today (Wednesday, Sept.4).

6a00d83451cc8269e2017d3bf391ec970c-250wiThis is the new place built by franchisee Dolphin Corp. on a long empty chunk of land at the corner of 12th Street Southeast and Marion Road Southeast.

That spot is in front of the new Marion Road Business Center and the Kwik Trip station on Marion Road. It is across 12th Street from the Cub Foods Plaza, where Dolphin has a Burger King. The new BK is replacing its older sibling location.

Dolphin Corp. owns all three Burger King restaurants selling in the Med City. They're located along South Broadway and North Broadway, as well as in the Cub Foods center.

March 21, 2013

New building proposed for deposed Burger King site

After eight years as an empty building gathering dust, a proposed development might mean that it's time to say farewell to Rochester's deposed King.

This royal saga begins with an ending, so here's a slightly condensed version of the history to provide background for the new chapter.

DeposedbksiteIn 2005, the Burger King at 4107 U.S. 52 N. closed its doors after a dispute between franchisee Road Corp., which was owned by Girish Dharod, and the royal fast food corporation ended with all five of Rochester's BKs being shut down.

Burger King shifted the Rochester area franchises to the Twin Cities-based Dolphin Corp., which quickly re-opened three of the five restaurants.

The two others — the North 52 location and the one at 615 S. Broadway — were owned by the Dallas, Texas-based Z’s American Properties. Z's American Properties is owned by Sunil Dharod, Girish's brother.

Eventually, a real estate auction of the two ex-BKs was held in 2006. Dolphin was the top bidder, but Sunil Dharod later rejected the bids.

A frustrated Greg Dolphin said he was ready to “go back to the drawing board" and pursue other Rochester sites to open more Burger Kings. True to his word, Dolphin is planning to build a new restaurant on a long empty chunk of land at the corner of 12th Street Southeast and Marion Road Southeast. When completed, it will be the new home for the BK that's now based in the nearby Cub Food Plaza.

ExbkplanIn the ensuing years, the South Broadway building became the Tex-Mex eatery Rico Mex. That closed in 2008. It was bought up by the University of Minnesota Rochester and demolished to clear the way for a future campus.

Meanwhile, Sunil Dharod's other building sat quietly, tucked away in its nook on the U.S. 52 frontage road

That could all change now that Z's American Properties has filed plans with the city to build a 7,400-square-foot complex. The plans show it split into two units — a 2,400-square-foot restaurant and a 5,000-square-foot retail site. Rochester's McGhie & Betts is handling the design duties.

The building plans were filed with the city this week, so it might be a while before anything happens at the faded fast food site. If the plan does move forward, it'll be interesting to see what restaurant might open there.

Like his brother, Sunil Dharod was a franchisee with Burger King. At one point, he had 18 BKs as well as many Applebee's restaurants. His BKs were auctioned off in 2011. The Dallas Morning News described the split as being "Beset by lawsuits, slumping sales and hard feelings."

Sunil Dharod still has his flourishing portfolio of 43 Applebee's, all of which are in Texas. However, an Applebee's doesn't seem a likely candidate for the new spot, since one is already cooking across the highway. Since the plans include a drive-through window, it looks like some sort of fast food entity is in mind.

March 18, 2013

Snappy Stop closes in north Rochester, but south shop continues cooking

Due to increased competition and a sluggish economy, the Snappy Stop drive-thru burger booth in north Rochester closed up shop for good on Sunday.

However, fans can still get their quick burger and fries fix at the original Snappy Stop mini-tower on South Broadway at 37 Ninth St. S.E.

Snappy"The north store was in a tough location," said Bucky Beeman, whose family created the unique burger drive-thru. "Eventually, we decided to close it and refocus our efforts on the south store and other businesses."

The north Snappy first opened at the start of 2005 at 3550 55th St. N.W., tucked between Discount Tire and Affinity Credit Union in front of the Northwest Plaza shopping complex.

The north store never was quite as successful as the easily accessible original at 37 Ninth St. S.E. by the Kmart store and the Soldiers Field shopping center, which Bob Beeman, Bucky's father, opened in 1986.

There were six employees working at the north Stop.

The building is available for lease through Rochester's Realty Growth Inc.

With all of the competition from Newt's to Five Guys to even Kwik Trip, how's the future look for the south Snappy Stop?

"The south location still does very good business," Beeman said. "It definitely will be there for a long time to come."

August 07, 2012

Hardee's targets Minnesota, but might miss Rochester

Since 2001, when a court order closed three Hardee's restaurants in Rochester, local fans have been asking when the fast-food franchise would be returning.

Some news out of the Twin Cities concerning a major Hardee's push in Minnesota certainly holds some promise for local lovers of bacon cheddar fries.

HardeesCKE Restaurants Inc., which owns Hardee's and its southern sibling Carl's Jr., has an ambitious goal of opening more than 59 new Hardee's in the Twin Cities area in the next five years.

Let's put that number in perspective to comprehend what a huge Thickburger invasion this could be.

Right now, there are 25 Hardee's cooking in the entire state. The nearest to Rochester are in Winona, Faribault and Albert Lea.

With such interest in the state, could Rochester have a Hardee's in its future?

"I touched bases with the development team, and the focus right now is on Minneapolis," says Elayne Sommers of Fish Consulting. "With that being said, I couldn't get any more information on expansion in the Rochester area, so there could be interest there."

Hardee's slices the United States into Designated Metro Areas. The DMA that includes Rochester extends into Wisconsin and Iowa and already has five Hardee's in it.

Sommers says that, based on population, the Rochester DMA could handle another five of the restaurants.

So Rochester could be a good candidate for a Hardee's or two, but CKE only has eyes for the Twin Cities right now.

Depending on interest from franchisees, that could change.

For anyone interested, qualified franchisees are required to have a net worth of at least $1 million and a minimum liquidity of $300,000. Initial investment for a franchisee is $1.1 million.

July 06, 2012

Whopper of a typo could get a BK cooking in Stewartville

Sometimes plans for a new fast-food franchise leak out when online job listings start popping up.

Unfortunately for Burger King fans in Stewartville, sometimes those job ads mean something else entirely … like someone hit the wrong button.

Some folks started smelling Whoppers cooking when an ad surfaced online for an assistant manager to work at a Burger King in Stewartville, even though no BK currently exisits there.

BurgerkingsignPeople hungry for BK contacted Stewartville City Administrator Bill Schimmel about plans for a Burger King.

While Dolphin Foods, the franchisee for Rochester, has looked at Stewartville in the past, Schimmel hadn't heard of anything new. Schimmel called the company's owner, Greg Dolphin.

Turns out the ad was just a glitch.

"Unfortunately, there are no imminent plans that we know of anything happening," Schimmel says.

However, Stewartville officials are hoping to make french fries out of the big dirty potato of an error.

They took the opportunity to invite Dolphin to Stewartville to look at the Schumman Business Park, which is buzzing with activity as FedEx builds a massive distribution center there.

"He has been interested in the past in opening in Stewartville, and it sounds like he could be interested in looking here again," says Schimmel.

Dolphin talked about opening a BK in Stewartville back in 2005, when he took over the Rochester franchises after Burger King pulled the plug on the former franchisee, Road Corp.

The moral of this tale of fast food and high hopes is that typos aren't always bad things. I hope everyone who reads this column takes that to heart and remembers it the next time I muck up a word or two. Heh.

March 05, 2012

Rochester's latest eatery closing is...?

Here's the scoop.

032708threethirtyone331jkThe 331 Bar and Grill at 7386 Airport View Drive S.W. in Rochester closed its doors last night and did not re-open today.

The owners Tom and Jimmy Karabatsos told staff last night that they unfortunately needed to close.

They bought the restaurant from developer Andy Chafoulias in 2009.

Chafoulias first started the restaurant under the name of The Hangar, then he sold it in 2006. He bought it back in 2008 and relaunched it as 331.

So will Andy step back in take another swing at running bar and grill in the Rochester Airport Business Park that he created?

I chatted with him this afternoon and asked that very question.

Stay tuned.


November 14, 2011

Where do you like to eat out in Rochester?

 Do you think you know best?

HogIf so, then go vote for your choice of the Med City's Manliest Meal, Best Happy Hour, Best Cup of Joe, Best Breakfast Spot, Best Steak Dinner, Best Waiter/Waitress and lots of other tasty and subjective categories in Rochester Magazine's annual Best Restaurant poll.

This annual poll decides who gets the always hotly contested titles of Best New Restaurant, The One Restaurant Rochester Needs Immediately and Rochester's Best Restaurant.

Go to this link at and tell Roch Mag's Steve Lange what you think.

September 16, 2011

Rochester's restaurant death row - demo to go

09152011apachemcdonaldsdemo1jk Brick dust and sound of crashing concerte was definitely in the air in Rochester Thursday as the Apache Drive McDonald's and the China Dynasty building on South Broadway both went down to rubble.

09152011apachemcdonaldsdemo2 Thanks to Todd Schwarz, my roving freelance (and free) photog for the McDonald's pics.

Courtesy Corp., which owns six McDonald's restaurants in Rochester, in clearing away its iconic Apache eatery at 1306 Apache Drive S.W. to build a replacement restaurant in a slightly different spot.

The new layout will have seating for 170 customers compared with the current 129. It will have a double lane drive-through like the newer McDonald's on Second Street Southwest, North Broadway and 48th Street Southwest.

09152011chinadynastydemo China Dynasty was scraped away to clear the way for the planned future University of Minnesota Rochester campus.

Its neighbor, the ex-Burger King/ Rico Mex will soon - if it hasn't already - go the same way.

And that just leaves the closed Pannekoeken Restaurant on Rochester's restaurant death row.

Please help me keep an eye for that demolition. And I'm always interested in pics, if possible.


July 07, 2011

Could Kim Kardashian flip burgers in Roch.?

So I was reading a column in the Strib by the fearless and entertaining C.J., when an odd vision started to form in my mind.

I wasn't aware (Yeah, I don't read People or watch TMZ much) that NBA star and beloved Minnesota son, Kris Humphries, was engaged to the Rubenesque Reality TV star Kim Kardashian.

Kardashian The state shutdown must have distracted me from that important news. Heh.

Anyway, C.J. wrote a July 4 column about a Twin Cities bash for the couple, which she has dubbed in fine tabloid, name mashing style as 'Humpdashian.'

That made me remember about my first interview with Will Humphries, the bridegroom's dad.

Will Humphries is the guy who opened Five Guys Burgers and Fries in Rochester as well as called Newt's out for a hamburger showdown.

Back in 2009, I asked Will about why he was cooking up a way to have his own piece of the fast food pie.

And this is what he told me:

The elder Humphries, who was a University of Minnesota football star, says establishing the statewide Five Guys franchise is a way to prepare for his son’s post-NBA career.

“My wife and I are working it now, and then we’ll hand it off to him. We don’t want him to become another statistic like ex-players who go bankrupt,” he says.


 OK, so he's a concerned dad preparing a safety net in preparation for the day when his son's fast break is no longer quite fast enough.


Using my jumping to conclusions ability that rivals the younger Humphries vertical leap, I envisioned a future when a retired Kris Humphries takes over the family fast food business.


That's how I became convinced that Med City burger fans will eventually see the famous Miss K working the counter and grilling up orders.


That makes sense, right?  Heh.