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328 posts categorized "Downtown Roch. buzz"

April 01, 2016

Bleu Duck Kitchen cooking in downtown Rochester

Two area chefs are creating a downtown Rochester restaurant to offer "an eclectic mix of adventurous and innovative comfort food" in a historic building.

Chefs Erik Kleven and Erik Paulsen are fulfilling their dreams of opening their own place, the Bleu Duck Kitchen, by taking over the entire first floor of the 115-year-old Conley-Maass building at 14 Fourth St. SW. That's the brick building being renovated by owners Traci and Hunter Downs

15.006_Final Model - Restaurant Image 1 (1)"This is a great chance to break out on our own," said Kleven, currently the executive chef at Four Daughters Vineyard in Spring Valley.

Creating a 60-seat "New American Bistro"-style restaurant with a separate special events space in the Conley-Maas building is a particularly good fit, said Paulsen. who also worked at Four Daughters as Riverside on the Root and Vintage in Lanesboro.

"The building is in tune with we're doing," he said. "We're going to serve classic dishes with new novel twists. We want to make interesting, but approachable food."

That translates into possible menu items, like chicken roulade with waffle bread pudding stuffing, maple syrup and collard greens or ratatouille with parmesan funnel cake and hollandaise whipped potatoes. They plan to use fresh, locally grown ingredients.

If everything goes according to plan, the duo hopes to have the Bleu Duck cooking by mid- to late August. Kleven plans to wrap up his transition from Four Daughters. They expect to have a staff of 25 to 30 working at the Bleu Duck.

Rochester architect Adam Ferrari of 9 Square is designing the restaurant with an emphasis on "letting the historic building talk." The plan is for exposed brick, mute tones with an emphasis on the kitchen.

"We'll have the focus on a bright, clean, white kitchen at the center," said Paulsen.

A small "Chef's Counter" will located by kitchen. Customers sitting there will be served special, chef-chosen dishes.

The front portion of the main floor of the building will house the dining room, bar and kitchen. The back area will be used for special private events with room to seat up to 100 people.

The pair chose the name to represent an adventurous approach to cuisine. While they were both at Four Daughters, they would have "Blue Duck" days for the staff to experiment and try out new dishes and techniques. The name cames from the Adam Sandler move, "Billy Madison." As an adult in a first grade classroom, Sandler's character drew a blue duck, "because I've never seen a blue duck." 

"We try to not take ourselves too seriously," said Paulsen.

The Conley-Maass renovation project has been lauded as an example of the kind of development that many hope Rochester's Destination Medical Center initiative attracts. The Downs see this new restaurant as being of the same spirit as their transformation of the older building into an innovative technology office center.

"We've been in discussions and talks with several interested parties about the space and it wasn't until we met the duo that we knew had the right match for the building," said Traci Downs.

 

March 29, 2016

Downtown #rochmn liquor store to move to new home

After about a year in the Shops at University Square shopping center, City Wines and Spirits is moving to a new downtown Rochester home as well as taking on a new name.

City-wines-and-spiritsCity Wines and Spirits is tucked away on the mall's first floor between Lenscrafters and the former Michaels Restaurant. Now the shop that bills itself as "Rochester's Only Downtown Wine, Beer and Liquor Store" is planning to move across Broadway to the lobby of the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel, according to Sheila Thoma.

The liquor store is slated to move into the retail space at the corner of Broadway and Second Street Southeast. It was last occupied by Deb Frederick's Tableside Manor gift shop, which has moved to another downtown spot.

"We are looking forward to this new location with it being right on the street and in the hotel. We are waiting to solidify a couple last steps. If all does go as intended, we plan to open early April," Thoma said via email on Monday.

Thomas is the marketing director for Titan Development & Investments, which owns University Square, the Doubletree Hotel as well as City Wines. Titan also owns Andy's Liquor, which has four Rochester locations.

As part of the move, Thoma says the store is "rebranding as Andy’s Liquor Downtown."

That will bring the number of Andy's stores in Rochester up to five.

 

March 09, 2016

Customers celebrate return of Indian cuisine downtown

The return of Indian cuisine to downtown Rochester has some fans celebrating.

"Some customers were so happy to see Indian food again that they were just dancing around in circles," said Anuradha Dhumne of the opening of Blue Diamond Indian Cuisine in the First Avenue Food Court in Rochester's downtown skyway.

Anuradha and her husband, Anil Dhumne, launched Blue Diamond on Monday in a food-court spot last occupied by Azteca Mexican restaurant. 

08032016bluediamond"We serve authentic Indian food, sometimes with a twist," said Anuradha Dhumne.

In addition to traditional Indian meat entrees, they have a wide variety of vegetarian dishes for people looking for that option. The menu includes favorites of Indian cuisine such as tandoori chicken, curries, kabobs, samosas and fresh naan bread.

Blue Diamond has three on staff, including Anuradha Dhumne.

"There's a lot of interest. There's a gap here that we are filling," said Anil Dhumne. "People are finding our food is a festival of taste and flavor on your tongue."

Blue Diamond is settling in this week. The Dhumnes plan to ramp things up soon by offering a morning breakfast next week, an afternoon "snack" of tea and samosas and catering services.

They have been looking for a spot to open for about a year. Some people might remember the Blue Diamond booth at area farmer's markets and festivals.

"This has long been her dream," Anil said. "Location is key. I think we got a good spot." 

March 03, 2016

Indian cuisine on way to downtown food court

IMG_0362It looks like a new Indian cuisine place will soon start cooking in the First Avenue Food Court in Rochester's downtown skyway.

The sign recently went up for Blue Diamond Indian Cuisine in front of the vendor spot last occupied by Mexican eatery.

I haven't talked to them yet, but I pretty sure Blue Diamond is vendor some people might remember from summer events at the Squash Blossom Farm in Douglas.

I should have more on this soon.

January 12, 2016

Colorful downtown Mexican restaurant goes dark

It looks like El Loro has flown from Rochester as the Mexican eatery on Fourth Street Southeast has been dark for days. 

El-loro-logoEl Loro, which translates to The Parrot, opened in the old Chicago Great Western train depot at 20 Fourth St. SE in 2012. It is owned by Marcos Gomez, who owns a number of other Mexican restaurants in Minnesota with his brother.

The restaurant now sits closed and has been that way for days. Details of the closure are unknown, as Gomez has been unavailable for comment at his other restaurants.

The El Loro website lists restaurants in Bloomington, Burnsville, Savage and Hutchinson. Rochester recently has been removed from the list.

El Loro's abrupt closure comes on the heels of the building's recent sale.

The 115-year-old depot building was purchased for $800,00 in November by a collection of local and out-of-state investors under the name of The Med City Restaurant Group.

Realtor Nick Pompeian of Realty Growth Inc., who handled the deal, said the new owners had no plans to change anything and hope to keep a restaurant operating in the building.

"They just saw this as a good opportunity to own a piece of downtown," he said at the end of December.

So whatever happens next, it seems likely that a restaurant eventually will fill t 01112016depotplaquehe depot again. However, it's unclear how soon something like that could happen.

Before  El Loro, it housed another Mexican restaurant. In 2001, Jorge Ocegueda opened Dos Amigos in the depot. In 2011, he revamped the eatery and renamed it as Paseo del Rio. Paseo del Rio had a short run and soon was replaced by El Loro in 2012.

The depot originally was built in 1899 by Winona & Southwestern Railroad at the intersection of First Avenue and Second Street Southeast. Two years later, the line was sold to Chicago Great Western, which moved the building north across the river in 1903 by cutting it in two, placing each half on a flat rail car, and reassembling it at 19 Second St. SE.

In 1949, the structure was remodeled to also serve as a terminal for the Jefferson Bus Lines. The last passenger train left the depot in 1950, but Jefferson remained until 1987.

It then was sold to the city and slated for demolition until a "Save the Depot" citizens group temporarily moved it near the power plant at 533 First Ave. N.E. It was moved across the street a year later to allow Marigold Foods, now Kemps, to expand.

In 1997, Bruce Kreofsky & Sons acquired it at no cost from the City of Rochester. Kreofsky renovated it and moved it to the current location. Rochester Depot LLCof Plainview, which is connected to Kreofsky, acquired it at no cost in September 2010.

 

January 08, 2016

ArchMN mag's take on Mayo Clinic's DMC plan

20141216_dmc01_53Over the past few years, many publications have analyzed, dissected and speculated about Mayo Clinic's proposed Destination Medical Center plan.

And now Architecture MN magazine has published its own take on the plan in an article by Thomas Fisher. He looks at the plan and chats with DMC's lead urban designer Peter Cavaluzzi of the New York firm.

Here are a few excerpts that caught my eye:

• "One of them —Discovery Square—will provide a place near the Mayo Medical School for technological development and entrepreneurial spin-offs from the school and the Mayo Clinic. That integration of research and practice, innovation and application, fits the Mayo model perfectly, and Discovery Square may, ultimately, do the most to secure the economic future of the city, as start-up companies emerge and grow. The Perkins Eastman master plan calls for an open space at the center of this district, above which skyways converge into an elevated glass building that, while a good idea, looks too big for the space and a bit ominous in the renderings."

6a00d83451cc8269e201b7c791bc82970b-300wiIt's nice to hear an expert question the big glass structure slated for Discovery Square. My uneducated eye has always thought that it looks like a big, glass "Independence Day"-like spaceship landing on downtown in the renderings. However, I have never be very good at visualizing what development projects will look like in reality.

• "Another big move in the master plan—the Downtown Waterfront—links the government center and the civic and art center with pedestrian-friendly plazas that open up to a widened Zumbro River, finally freed from its current flood-control channel to become a real asset for the city. This district’s sweeping set of bridges, embankments, and buildings will break Rochester’s insistent street grid and provide a place for community events and celebrations that today have few options for outdoor venues. A grand gesture like this doesn’t happen without controversy, however. Some have questioned the planned removal of the existing public library near the river, even though, as Cavaluzzi observes, the library had already begun to look at moving, having outgrown its small, nondescript building."

Hhmmmm.... I have never heard the Rochester Public described as a "small, nondescript building" before. I guess it is a matter of perspective.

Read the full ArchMN article here.

 

December 24, 2015

Downtown art gallery officially closed

Downtown Rochester lost some color today when  Southeastern Minnesota Visual Artists (SEMVA) closed up their gallery.

12242015semvaclosingsignEarlier this month, SEMVA President Andy Westreich sent messages to the cooperative's 84 artists saying that the gallery could no longer afford its high-profile spot at 16 First St. SW on Rochester's Peace Plaza.

"It is with great sadness that I have to tell you that we were unable to negotiate a reasonable lease renewal, and the board of directors has voted to close the SEMVA Gallery after 23 years in business," he wrote. "This was not an easy decision to come by, and many factors played a role in our final vote."

The letter cited a number of factors in the decision, including a 40 percent increase in rent and a decrease in traffic following the closure of popular downtown businesses like the Barnes and Noble Bookstore and Michaels restaurant. SEMVA sales are down 13 percent compared to 2014.

Beyond the rent increase, SEMVA leaders also mentioned that almost five months of negotiations with landlord George Psomas were held up by his plan to change the renewal clause in the lease from five years to one year.

Today was the gallery's last day. Artists were packing up their works.

However, the cooperative leaders are confident that they will be able to find a new home of the gallery in the near future.

 

November 10, 2015

Get ready to Primp

There's a lot of activity on the high-profile corner of 100 First Ave. SW in downtown Rochester.

The shiny signs are up, clothes are going up on racks and the new doors will open soon.

09112015primpPrimp, a popular Twin Cities boutique, is opening its first Med City store on Friday.

Owners Michele Henry and Wesley Uthus announced the opening on Monday.

"We're excited to announce our 7th location, in Rochester, MN, will be open this FRIDAY!… Can't wait to meet you all!," they exclaimed (hence the exclamation marks) on their Facebook page.

Primp carries a full array of women's apparel, from fancy dresses to denim and sweaters. Primp also stocks plenty of accessories, like handbags, jewelry and scarves.

It's tagline is 'Cheap, chic boutique.' Everything is less than $100. Most are items are less than $50.

The news of Primp coming to town broke in early October. It's stepping into the storefront which was the long-time home of the Rochester landmark, O&B Shoes. O&B marched less than a block away to 19 First Ave. SW in August.

"We were looking at a lot of places. But when this space came, we dropped all of the other locations," Henry said at the time. "There is such a great energy in downtown Rochester."

Darci Fenske of Paramark Real Estate Services brokered the deal to bring the brand into the Rochester market.

November 04, 2015

What's the skinny on new subway spa?

A well-known Rochester downtown subway business now has more skin in the game with the opening of Total Image Esthetic Center.

Hillary Seltun opened the new medical spa in the Kahler Hotel subway, across the hallway from Hanny's, on Oct. 30. She owns the spa with her husband, Joseph Seltun. They also own the nearby Total Image Hair Salon, which has operated in the subway for more that 50 years.

TemplogoThe Seltuns' skin services out grew the treatment room at Total Image Salon and the Kahler offered them more space as another spa closed and sold off its equipment, said Hillary Seltun.

"It all just came together at the right time," she said. "It just made sense to expand."

The new center offers a full array of skin services including facials, Botox, massage, chemical peels, laser treatment, makeovers, spray tan and a eyelash/eyebrow bar. They also offer bridal packages in conjunction with the Kahler Hotel.

While some other spas in Rochester offer similar services, the Seltuns are comfortable with opening a new competitor.

"I feel like there is more than enough demand. And I think we're a little bit different," Hillary said. "We understand a woman's need to feel good as well as look good."

Being in the subway also may give them an edge.

"I feel like the subway system is kind of like its own a city within a city," she said. 

October 28, 2015

New Roch. substation planned for Epic, Mayo Clinic growth

Mayo Clinic's partnership with Epic Systems, the largest electronic medical records firm in the United States, is driving the construction of a new $6.1 million Rochester Public Utilities substation.

Epic_Systems_112109_SignVerona, Wis.-based Epic Systems has been negotiating with RPU since June about the project. Epic says it needs more power capacity in the area to support future growth of the Mayo Clinic Data Center at 4710 West Circle Drive. The new Douglas Trail substation is slated to be built by the data center on land currently owned by Mayo Clinic.

The RPU board approved a "memorandum of understanding" about the project with Epic at its Tuesday night meeting. An escrow account already has been set up to fund project.

The memorandum states, "Due to the planned transfer of selected Mayo Data Center assets to Epic, Epic requests incremental electrical capability and capacity, needed to accommodate projected business growth in forward years…"
Epic has agreed to pay for the majority of the $6.1 million project, with RPU contributing $1.016 million for additional features that Epic doesn't need. The agreement also allows for Epic to apply  Mayo4710technologyparkfor up to $2.03 million in rebates over 10 years. The goal is to have the new substation up and running at least by April 1, 2017.


Rochester attorney Mark Utz spoke to the board as a representative of Epic. He said the deal  "Provides capacity not just for Epic, but a tremendous opportunity for the city of Rochester … to have a third substation in an incredible quadrant for Rochester. This is a win/win for the community, for RPU and for Epic."

Bruce Richards, Epic's director of facilities and engineering, assured the board his company is serious about coming to Rochester.

"This is a long-term situation for us. We're bringing in quite a few people to town," he said. "We'll start out with 80 to 90 people to the data center to work with Mayo Clinic."

Richards told the RPU board the additional capacity is needed for the potential that the current data center could grow to three times its current size.

Mayo Clinic built the $33.7 million, 60,000-square-foot computer support center in 2012. The data center was built to support all three of Mayo Clinic's campuses — Rochester, Jacksonville, Fla., and Scottsdale, Ariz.

"Epic is expected to take title of the property nominally in December 2015, with site grading to begin in spring 2016, according to the RPU/Epic agreement. The agreement also states that, "It is contemplated that the City of Rochester, for the benefit of RPU, will acquire from Epic the title of the real estate where the substation and related infrastructure will be located.

Richards did not elaborate on what Epic plans to do at Mayo Data Center, though remote hosting medical records is a possibility. In recent years, Epic built a massive data center in Verona, Wis. to offer remote medical record hosting for its clients.

6a00d83451cc8269e201b7c791bc82970b-800wiEpic and Mayo Clinic began working together early this year, when Mayo chose Epic to handle Mayo Clinic's electronic medical records. The relationship is developing into a close collaboration. Mayo's Chief Administration Officer Jeff Bolton has said that Epic has shown "a strong interest" in being part of the planned Discovery Square development in downtown Rochester. Discovery Square is part of Mayo Clinic's Destination Medical Center initiative.

Epic has about 8,000 employees and had $1.8 billion in revenues in 2014. Epic's software already is used by about 350 health-care organizations that care for 54 percent of U.S. patients.

Mayo Clinic is not Epic's only major partner in northwest Rochester. In May, IBM Watson Health, the health care unit of IBM, announced it has begun working with Epic as well as Mayo Clinic to add the Watson' super computer's cognitive capabilities to electronic health records. It's not clear if IBM is involved in the West Circle Drive data center project.