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

268 posts categorized "Downtown Roch. buzz"

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 12, 2014

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.

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.

June 30, 2014

Consultants hired to create DMC blueprint w/ FULL CONTRACTS

Here's some of the lead-in to my package from the weekend about the $4.1 million  contracts for the consultants to create the Destination Medical Center plan to re-make Rochester.

There's a lot more detail in the rest of the package. So if you are interested in this topic, I'd suggest reading the full piece.

And for the document wonks out there like me, here's the 251 page PDF that includes all of the contracts with Nelson / Nygaard Consulting Associates of San Francisco; Kimley-Horn and Associates of Cary, N.C.; AECOM Technical Services of Los Angeles; and EE&K of New York.

Download Combined Consulting Agreements EDA(1)

 

---------------

Planning for a complex initiative like Mayo Clinic's Destination Medical Center doesn't come cheaply.

The surge of DMC hype already has national and international businesses fluttering around Rochester's sudden glow. The sale of commercial real estate is booming, particularly in the downtown core. New housing developments are being mapped out for the tens of thousands of people expected to move to Rochester for the forecasted 35,000 to 45,000 new jobs.

51687d3f5e0c6-image However, there's no blueprint yet for the $6 billion upgrade of the city's infrastructure, transportation systems, private development and more that's at the heart of DMC's vision of a Rochester better suited to accommodate more patients for Mayo Clinic.

Hiring a team to create a detailed plan for the massive undertaking to change the face of the city was a top priority for the public Destination Medical Center Corp. board of directors.

Public-private projects on this scale are rare in U.S., so there are not many examples to follow. National experts say sports developments, like the $975 million Vikings stadium and the new $622 million Atlanta Braves stadium, are about the only comparable projects to what is being proposed in Rochester.

The DMCC contracted with the DMC private Economic Development Agency, led by Mayo Clinic's Lisa Clarke, to handle hiring consultants to create the overall DMC "development plan." In December, the EDA board posted requests for proposal for six roles in the planning process.

800px-Gonda_building,_closer_upWith so much money on the table, proposals came in from 19 leading firms across the country and even overseas. Five of the teams vying for the contracts are based in Minnesota with three of them having offices in Rochester.

In April, the EDA wrapped up that six-month hiring process by contracting with four national consulting firms. Two were chosen to fill dual roles.

All of the consultants have had experience in major public-private projects, from stadiums to transit systems to airports.

Those four, plus another company hired in February, will be paid a total of $4.1 million this year to create the DMC's grand plan by February. That $4.1 million accounts for almost half of the DMC's total city-funded budget of $8.2 million for 2014.

In the end, all of the Minnesota hopefuls were passed over for the DMC planning jobs.

"The main factors that influenced our decisions was experience, knowledge of the market and the team they put forward. Those were the basic components we needed to consider as we moved forward," said Clarke. "I'm very confident that we have hired the best."

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."

Cambria brings its counterculture to downtown Rochester

A "counterculture" experience is coming to downtown Rochester in the form of a new Cambria showroom.

Le Sueur-based Cambria opened the doors of its new 2,400-square-foot "touch and feel center" at 400 S. Broadway in the Riverside Building today. (Monday, June 9)

Cambria is known for its high-end natural stone and quartz counter tops used in residential and commercial kitchens and bathrooms.

06092014cambriashowroomThe new Rochester center is focused on being a showroom for local contractors and partners like Warners' Stellian appliances to bring their clients to look at styles and colors of Cambria surfaces. However, individual homeowners are also welcome to stop in to check out the countertops.

"Rochester is such a vibrant community. It really is a good opportunity for us," said Peter Martin, Cambria's executive vice president of sales, marketing and business partner services.

He described company's investment to create the elaborate showroom in the former Rocco Altobelli Salon space along the Zumbro River as being in the "hundreds of thousands of dollars."

Martin says his company will have about five employees staff the downtown showroom, and another team of 10 based elsewhere in Rochester will handle Cambria's delivery and installation services.

Beside showing off its wares, Cambria plans to use the new site to develop strong ties with the Med City.

"It is our intent to focus on interacting on with community," he said.

The fact that the Rochester Symphony Orchestra & Chorale uses the patio outside of the showroom's windows for Coda, its popular summer series of outdoor music, was a major factor in Cambria choosing that spot, Martin said.

May 22, 2014

H3 Plaza rising quickly in downtown Roch.

05222014plazaonthird1Once construction eventually began, Rochester developer Andy Chafoulias' long-planned Plaza on Historic 3rd at 300 S. Broadway has been steadily on the rise.

Chafoulias' Titan Development and Investments is building a six-story complex on the spot once occupied by the former C.O. Brown insurance offices.02282014cobrowndemo

Here's a little reverse retrospective on that site:

The photos go back in time, though the final image is the rendering of what The Plaza is slated to look like.

While it has seen significant changes, the latest version of the TitanCo_brown project still includes the restaurant on the street level and the roof-top lounge/bar that were in the original vision.  

Restaurateurs Pat Woodring and Scott Foster, the minds behind Chester's Kitchen & Bar and Pescara, are still slated to create, own and manage those operations. Woodring and Foster have worked with the Chafoulias family for many years.

In September, the Rochester Economic Development Agency approved a special redevelopment tax-increment-financing district to raise $300,000 to cover asbestos removal and demolition of the former C.O. Brown building.Citycenter-H3-Plaza-on-Historic-3rd-rendering-1-600x330

The project was earmarked by the Rochester City Council in September to be included in the $2 billion in private investment promised to the state as part of Mayo Clinic's Destination Medical Center initiative.

 

Hers store to reluctantly close at Apache Mall

Sometimes things don't work out as planned, like a longtime local retailer's return to the Rochester's Apache Mall.

Hers, which has a pair of successful women’s clothing stores in downtown, opened a third store in the Apache Mall in 2012. That signaled the Dahlstrom family's return to the mall, where the first version of their store originally opened 34 years. In fact, the store founder, BoApacheb Dahlstrom, was once the manager of the old Dayton's store in the Apache Mall.

Owner Bruce Dahlstrom, Bob Dahlstrom's son, thought having a store in the mall would help Hers reach customers who don't shop in downtown Rochester.

Now that outreach will soon come to an end. The Apache Mall location put up signs this week announcing the start of "a store closing sale." Bruce Dahlstrom confirms that his Apache Mall store will close its doors at least by the end of July, a move that he feels was forced on Hers.

"It wasn't our choice," he said.

Hers has one year left on its three year lease with the Apache Mall. Dahlstrom had planned to keep that store open at least into 2015. The sales numbers have been "reasonable" to support the store, which has five employees on staff.

3e455f11-88a5-4cb5-81a5-ecfbb83eb371The hitch in that plan is that the Apache Mall management has different plans for the 1,550-square-foot space Hers occupies in the Macy's wing of the mall. Dahlstrom says he was told that  the space was needed for a national tenant.

When contacted for a comment, Mall Manager Kim Bradley said her company, General Growth Management, doesn't discuss such business dealings.

"The gave us the option to re-locate to another spot, but we'd to build it out at our expense," Dahlstrom said. The Rochester retailer had already invested quite a bit in building out the current Apache Mall.

Eventually, a frustrated Dahlstrom decided to just close the Hers store in the mall and put all of his focus on the "healthy" downtown stores as well as its online presence.