News Business Sports Entertainment Life Obituaries Opinion
Jobs Homes Cars Classifieds Shopping
Local Bloggers Cheap Tech Eco-Confessions Faceoff Furst Draft Heard on the Street Med City Movie Guy Pulse on Health Political Party

Search PB Blogs

Loading

Categories

460 posts categorized "Current Affairs"

August 21, 2014

Homewood Suites construction rolling along

08212014homewoodsuitesEven though the skies are stormy, it's clear sailing on the construction on the new 108-room, six-story Homewood Suites extended stay hotel near Saint Marys Hospital.

Rochester's Carpenter family and Torgerson Properties, of Willmar, are building the Homewood hotel next door to their Courtyard by Marriott hotel. They also own SpringHill Suites.

Work on this project started a year ago. Dennis Wallenta, vice president of hotel operations for Torgerson Properties, says construction is on track for the hotel to open this fall, possibly in November.

August 20, 2014

Rochester architecture firm to move soon

A Rochester architecture firm soon will move out of its long-time digs.

CRW Architecture-Design Group, formerly part of Yaggy Colby Associates, will move out of its offices at 717 Third Ave. S.E. at the end of September, said CRW Principal Chris Colby. The firm has been based in the SEH-Yaggy complex, since it spun off from Yaggy-Colby in 2010.
08202014crwoffices
CRW is led by Colby, Jose Rivas and Jason Woodhouse. All three previously worked for what used to be Yaggy Colby.

SEH-Yaggy has committed that office space to another tenant, according to Colby. SEH-Yaggy is the result of a merger earlier this year between Yaggy-Colby and St. Paul-based Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc.

CRW OfficeWhile the firm eventually will move into its own building, construction of its 4,200-square-foot offices plus four apartments isn't expected to be completed until late October or early November.

That means the 10 employees at CRW will need to temporarily find work space for the 45 to 60 days until its new offices are finished, said Colby.

CRW's new complex is being built at 11th Avenue and Second St. N.W. The office and apartments are being developed by Jose Rivas.

August 19, 2014

Work on Holiday's new Valleyhigh station is cruising along

It looks like construction of the new Holiday Station c-store at Valleyhigh Drive and 40th Ave. N.W. is pumping right along.

08182014valleyhighholidayWork on this station is further along than Holiday's other new station project at 19th Street and U.S. 52, but both mark a major push by the Bloomington-based Holiday to try claim part of the Rochester market from the ubiquitous Kwik Trips.

Holiday moved back into Rochester last year when it purchased seven SuperAmerica stations here. It already had one station here. Holiday closed and sold two of the SAs. However, Holiday will have eight stations total with these two new C-stores being built.

Wisconsin-based Kwik Trip has 13 stations in Rochester with plans for more in the works.

August 15, 2014

Mama Fu's Rochester eatery is 'indefinitely' postponed

Mama Fu's Asian House still wants to open an eatery in Rochester, but don't expect to try General Fu's Chicken here anytime soon.

The Austin, Texas-based "Asian-centric" restaurant chain says its plans for a downtown location near Mayo Clinic are "indefinitely" postponed at this point.

Mama_Fus_logo_V_rgbBuzz about the quick Asian cuisine brand has been simmering since last year when the PB's insatiably hungry Answer Man wrote a column in November that said Mama Fu's had marked off a space in the Kahler Grand Hotel for a Rochester restaurant. Building permit applications were submitted to the city. Signs went in up in the Kahler promoting the future arrival of the franchise.

In recent months, Mama Fu's CEO still was mentioning the future Rochester location in news stories about the chain's plans to open smaller places as well as it's expansion into the Middle East.

Mama Fu's was slated to part be of the Kahler Hospitality Group's growing portfolio of franchise food spots including, Dunkin' Donuts and Freshens.

However, the signs came down and talk of Mama Fu's eventually faded. Albert Im, marketing manager for the Austin company, cleared up the situation in email this week.

"Mama Fu's and our franchise partner were looking forward to opening this year in the Mayo Clinic area. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances and logistical issues associated with the site, we have postponed plans to open in Rochester indefinitely until our next steps are identified," he wrote. "While we have every expectation that Rochester will be a fantastic market for Mama Fu's Asian House, we are unable to determine a time frame for our emergence into the community."

So, it may be a while longer until the local franchise partner opens a Mama Fu's in Rochester. However, work is progressing quickly on the Kahler Hospitality Group's second Freshens cafe. It will be located in the Marriott Subway in the former home of The Crate.

August 13, 2014

Consignment boutique teeing up move to new Broadway store

Danielle David's Rochester consignment business has outgrown its shop and its name once again.

What started out as Danielle's E-Shoes in a small spot back in 2009 quickly moved into a space double the original space with "& More" tacked on to the business name.  An expansion soon followed and the "E" was dropped.

Now she is teeing up to move Danielle's Shoes & Consignment Boutique to yet another larger store at 1920 South Broadway, next to Golf Headquarters. She plans to move from her current spot at 1310 Seventh St. N.W. in the Northgate Shopping Center at the start of September.

"It's very exciting," said David. "I'll have much better visibility there."

To555814_336424926406363_33872887_n make room for her boutique, Golf Headquarters owner Ed Martens is slicing about 2,000 square feet off of his well-known golf shop. The change won't affect Martens' other tenants, Broadway Veterinary Care and an Edward D. Jones financial services office.

With the changes in retail driven by the Internet, Martens says he will condense his store into a 5,200-square-foot space.

"We'll specialize more, focusing on the brands that are most popular in Rochester," he said.

Martens says his staff will continue to work with shoppers to custom-fit each and every club in their bag instead of the more common practice of adjusting the fit based on one or two swings of one club.

"To battle the Internet, we've got to go out and give that extra special service," he said.

Of course, the Internet is the foundation that David built her business on by starting out by selling on eBay. While she still does that, the name-brand consignment of clothes, purses, jewelry and, of course, shoes, has grown.

With the additional space in the new location, she'll be able to stock more clothes in every size category as well display more clothes for many age groups.

The expansion on her offerings with a continued focus on upscale items drove her to make the latest addition to the business name.

"We want to let people to know what this is. We're a boutique," said David.

August 12, 2014

Bank breaks ground for new northwest Rochester branch

Green Bay, Wis.-based Associated Bank broke will break ground on Wednesday for its new 3,000-square-foot branch in northwest Rochester.

10581397_745970035444536_1595413071_nThe new building will replace the branch in the Hy-Vee North grocery on 37th Street Northwest, which closed on July 24. Associated's new site will be located at 1985 Commerce Drive N.W., which is in the Costco's commercial development at 19th Street and West Circle Drive. It will be near the 19th Street entrance to Costco.Associated Bank first filed plans for the branch in February.

EDITOR'S NOTE - Thanks once again to Josh Banks Photography for the pic.

If construction goes as planned, look for the new Associated branch to open in January. The Wisconsin bank has three other branches in Rochester.

The addition of this new branch re-confirms the growing commercial interest in that part of Rochester. Iowa-based West Bank is planning to build its own facility along West Circle Drive in 2015. Two Rochester-based banks, Home Federal Saving Bank and Think Mutual Bank, also have large branches in that area.

Associated's announcement about the new location stated that it will offer "an enhanced banking experience in a revitalized and spacious layout." That will include a full lobby with tellers, a drive-through window and staff to handle mortgages and investment services.

Associated Bank entered the Rochester area in 2004, when it acquired First Federal Capital Bank. First Federal was short-lived here. It picked up the holdings of the long-time Marquette Bank in 2002.

“We take pride in the relationships we have built in this community and we are thrilled to continue these relationships at our new location,” stated Tim Lau, Associated's head of community markets and executive vice president.

Re-locating the northwest branch is not the only Rochester move coming up for the bank.

New owners have acquired Associated Bank's downtown building at 206 South Broadway and the bank needs to move out by spring 2015. Executive Vice President David Stein previously stated that Associated is looking for "opportunities for a new downtown bank location."

Associated has more than 200 locations in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois.

Sale results in a double shot of juice for downtown Rochester

The result of a recent deal is a double shot of fresh juice plus new food offerings in downtown Rochester.

On Aug. 6, Ann Chafoulias sold her Essential Juice in the First Avenue Food Court to David Hewitt. He also owns Mama Meg's Parlour and co-owns Johnny Mango's Pita Cafe in the same food court.

12082014juicetonictooChafoulias originally opened Essential in December with the goal of introducing downtown to healthy, fresh cold-pressed juice. She says the new business quickly earned many loyal regular customers and it was building a strong foundation. She developed a staff of about five employees.

"It's a beautiful product," she said. "It's the perfect spot for it. I believe in Rochester and in downtown."

Then during the last brutal winter, Chafoulias was offered a very appealing opportunity in Phoenix, Ariz., where she had attended college.

That drove her to find a buyer for Essential with the hope that the new owner would continue what she had built. Hewitt bit on the juicy offer and he brought in Nikki Sylvester, who opened a cold-pressed juice bar and organic food eatery called Tonic in southwest Rochester last fall.

On Monday, Hewitt and Sylvester unveiled a "co-branded" place under the name of Essential Cold-press Juices and Tonic Too.

In addition to Essential's bottles of freshly pressed juice, the new blended business now also serves luncheon options from Tonic's menu and smoothies.

Look for the Tonic/Essential mix to be serving at the popular Thursdays on First and Third street market from Sylvester's distinctive orange-shaped cart. Mama Meg's and Johnny Mango's Pita Cafe also are food vendors at the weekly events.

For her part, Chafoulias is glad that her juice business is still adding a fresh flavor to downtown.

"I'm excited to see what happens next," she said.

August 08, 2014

Cherry Berry on Maine closed, but original Roch. shop still busy

It looks like the fro-yo is no longer a go in Rochester's Shoppes on Maine commercial enclave, though it's still flowing right along at Shoppes on Second.

07082014cherryberryonmaineThe doors at the Med City's second Cherry Berry frozen yogurt shop, which just opened last year, were locked up this week. A sign in the window of Suite 307 at 4662 Maine Ave. S.E. said, "CherryBerry on Maine has closed, Thank you all of our customers." No other details seem to be available about the closing.

Editor's Note: Thanks to Josh Banks of Banks Photos for snapping this pic and giving it to me.

This shop was owned by a separate franchisee and had no connection to Rochester's original and always busy Cherry Berry frozen yogurt shop at Second Street Southwest and U.S. 52. Joel Granberg and his wife opened that Cherry Berry in 2012. That shop is still open for business and serving up lots yogurt.

Of course, Pat Carroll, known for his iconic Carroll's Corn popcorn shop in downtown, was the first to really bring the most recent wave of frozen yogurt to the Med City in 2012.

Carroll's Cup is next to his popcorn shop in the subway under the Kahler Grand Hotel. He also has a Carroll's Cup in the food court of the Apache Mall.

August 06, 2014

New northwest Rochester McDonald's to open next week

Courtesy Corp., which owns the six McDonald's restaurants in Rochester, plans to open its new northwest location on Aug. 14.

05082014newmcdonaldscostcoThe still under-construction McDonald's stands in front of the Costco warehouse store, facing West Circle Drive Northwest.

It will replace Courtesy Corp.'s long-time restaurant on the U.S. 52 North frontage road near 19th Street Northwest. That location closed earlier this week in preparation for the opening on the new restaurant.

When plans for the new restaurant were announced last year, Courtesy Corp. President Rick Lommen said the old McDonald's had about 65 employees on staff. He anticipated that number could grow to 80 or 90, when the new one opens.

The company spent $1.32 million to buy the land in the 108 acre commercial development, which is owned  the real estate development arm of the Kwik Trip convenience store chain.

Lommen explained that McDonald's thought the restauran05082014closingmcdonaldst would do much better in the rapidly growing area at the corner of West Circle Drive and 19th Street Northwest.

"I just believe that long-term that is going to be an outstanding development, and it will show significant growth for years to come," he said.

Conversely, the longtime location on the U.S. 52 Frontage Road lost much of its visibility and customer traffic when the highway was updated a few years ago.

Courtesy Corp. is not the only company that's banking on the growth in that northwest development that's exploding around Costco and a Kwik Trip station.

A 77-room Comfort Inn and Suites and a 109-room Staybridge Suites are both under construction near the new McDonald's. Discount grocer Aldi also recently announced its own plans to build a second Rochester store in the same area.

A St. Paul-based developer,TJL Development is working on plans for a 2,500-square-foot building to be occupied by a co-branded coffee and food business as well as a 4,000-square-foot store for a national retailer.

August 05, 2014

European publisher closes Rochester office

An European publisher of auto repair manuals told local employees this week that its Rochester office is closing following the company's decision to back out of the U.S. market.

Maidenhead, England-based Autodata originally moved its U.S. headquarters to Rochester in 2005. The company, which focuses on providing technical information for mechanics, had 15 people working at its 4,000-square-foot office at 6301 Bandel Road N.W. until last summer. That's when it cut its staff in half.

Autodata online coverThere were six people working for Autodata in Rochester until the firm let four employees go this week. Two staffers will remain on Autodata's payroll to continue to support some large contracts from home, though the office is expected to be completely closed by mid-August.

"We've had to take the rather drastic decision to close office in Rochester. It's no reflection on the efforts of the staff, who did great job for us," said Autodata CEO Rod Williams, who flew to Rochester from England to deliver the news in person.

Autodata_logoAutodata takes a different approach than similar U.S. publishers. Instead of focusing on specific models, it creates manuals based on a subject like airbags or transmissions, and then includes information for all vehicle models, including those no longer being made. The information is constantly updated. It provides up-to-date technical information for about 17,000 vehicles made by more than 80 companies, though the bulk of the manufacturers are based in England, France and Germany.

Williams says the company, which remains successful in Europe and Australia, struggled to win over the U.S. market. It had some ups during its run here, he said. This office grew from four employees in 2005 to 16 by 2007.  In the end, it just wasn't enough to make the Rochester office sustainable.

While Autodata's long-time owners did sell the company to two investment firms in May, Williams says the change only hastened the closing of Rochester.

"Sooner or later, it was going to come, unfortunately," he said.

The rapidly changing world of publishing added more challenges to Autodata's push into the U.S. The first year that Autodata made more from electronic products over printed manuals was in 2007. Since then, the industry's move to away from print has rapidly picked up speed. Print manuals shifted into CDs, then DVDs and eventually online.

"The world has moved on from books," said Williams. "By the end of the year, we'll be wholly online in Europe. We've already been completely online in Australia for many years."