News Business Sports Entertainment Life Obituaries Opinion
Jobs Homes Cars Classifieds Shopping

Search PB Blogs



607 posts categorized "Food and Drink"

October 06, 2015

Rochester co-op manager moves up to CEO job

People’s Food Co-op has named the Rochester store manager Lizzy Haywood to serve as the organization's CEO and general manager.

Haywood, who has led the Rochester store since it opened in 2013, took over the role on Sept. 28. She is now based in La Crosse, Wis. at the People's Food Co-op headquarters and original store. 

115840_7644_339_lizzy_haywood"The Rochester store manager position has been posted and we are accepting applications," said People's Marketing Director Ann Mull on Tuesday.

Haywood had been serving as interim CEO and general manager since Aug.19, when the previous CEO Michelle Schry resigned to take another job. Prior to coming to Rochester, she was the general manager at the Bluff County Co-op in Winona.

The People's Food Co-op in La Crosse merged with Rochester's Good Food Store in 2011. The organization then moved the cooperative into downtown Rochester.  The almost 27,000 square-foot People's Food Co-op opened on the main level of Rochester's Metropolitan Market Place complex at 519 First Ave. SW in 2013. 

The La Crosse organization is one of the 25 largest food cooperatives in the U.S. It has more than 8,000 member families in Rochester and La Crosse and annual revenues of $25 million.

September 18, 2015

A southeast Asia flavor is cooking in northwest Rochester

A new flavor is simmering in northwest Rochester.

Sophan Thuo is getting ready to open Sonniya's Cambodian Cuisine at 4180 18th Ave. NW in front of the Cedarwood Plaza shopping center. 

11942152_1492082094419055_3725039047799146419_oRochester's growing diversity has brought the food of many cultures, such as Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Ethiopian, Mexican and others to the Med City. While Cambodian has been part of some recent Rochester menus, Thuo's is completely devoted to the food of the southeast Asian country.

"I have been a server for others for many years. I love the job working with food. I love to do what I do," said Thuo. "Now I want to introduce my type of food to Rochester."

Cambodian food is known for its sauces and curries. Like many Asian cuisines, it uses rice and noodles in many dishes, but with a different spin on them.

Thuo said one popular Cambodian dish that Sonniya's Cambodian Cuisine will spotlight is Lort Cha, which it uses rice noodles.

She has the sign up on her new place and hopes to open yet this month. Thuo expects to have about 10 on staff.

The 18th Avenue building has housed a variety of flavors in recent years. Sok Dee, a Thai eatery, closed in August. Before that, it housed Far East Fusion, John Hardy's Bar-B-Q and Roscoe's Root Beer & Ribs.

Andrew “AJ” Hawkins of the commercial real estate firm of Realty Growth Inc. handled the deal that brought Sonniya's Cambodian Cuisine into the site. 

September 17, 2015

Cocktails on the way at Mac's Restaurant

Diners at a popular Rochester eatery will soon find something new on the menu - cocktails.

Mac's Cafe and Restaurant, which has been cooking for more than 60 years on the Peace Plaza, recently was given a full liquor license. That means it can add mixed drinks to the beer and wine it already offers.

5177285Owner George Psomas says this addition is all about offering more choices, not changing the restaurant's family-friendly atmosphere.

"We're not going to be bar. We're just adding a few high-end drinks," he said. "The people have been calling for it. We're just giving the people what they want."

Expect the selections to reflect Mac's Greek heritage. Instead of a Bloody Mary, they plan to serve a Bloody Athena.

Adding cocktails to the mix is one of a few recent update for Mac's. It's Peace Plaza exterior received an extensive face-lift this summer. Plus he rolled out a new Mac's food truck, which has been making the rounds at Rochester events.

Psomas says he's fine-tuning a new offering for the food truck menu, but he's keeping the details of the new cultural combination under wraps until it's ready.

"It's going to be amazing. People that have tried it love it," he said.

September 09, 2015

Is Shefzilla invading Rochester?

Is a top Twin Cities chef set to trek down to Rochester and start cooking?

It looks that way, i Stewart_woodman_cover_560f media reports are correct.

After 12 years as an award-winning chef at many top Twin Cities eateries, Stewart "Shefzilla" Woodman is coming to the Med City to work as the top food expert at the Kahler Hospitality Group, according to an Eater Minneapolis article.

Woodman is known for launching such Twin Cities foodie spots like Five Restaurant & Street Lounge, Heidi’s and the Workshop. He also is known for his cookbook, "Conquering Haute Cuisine at Home."
Representatives from the Kahler hotels were not available to confirm the reports this morning.

However, an Easter article published last week quoted Woodman as responding to queries about his future with the cryptic message, "Rochester I am going to." The man known as "Shefzilla" had been teasing Twin Cities media with Tweets alluding to his leaving his position at Kaskaid Hospitality.

He had been working at Haskaid overseeing Crave, Urban Eatery, Union and the Workshop since 2014. His last day there was Sept. 4, according to Woodman.

He told Eater that he is taking over management of the culinary operations of the Kahler Grand Hotel and its sister hotels. The Kahler Hospitality Group's restaurants include The Grand Grill, Salute, Martini's, Crossings Bistro, Lord Essex, Freshens and Dunkin Donut.

The Kahler Hospitality Group has been tweaking its restaurants in recent years to keep up with the increasingly competitive Rochester food scene.

Some of Woodman's accolades over the years include being named one of Food & Wines "Best New Chefs" as well as twice being a semifinalist for the best Midwest chef award from the James Beard Foundation.

August 31, 2015

Baker's Square building sells for $2.49 million

The 25-year-old building at 819 Apache Lane SW, which houses Rochester's south Baker's Square restaurant, was purchased by Alice Montgomery of Los Altos, Calif. for $2.49 million.

646b9184dc9346a88cc1be3d4fcd9855The real estate listing by Mid America Real Estate Group shows that Bakers Square still has seven years left on its lease. The listing priced the building for $2.44 million.

Montgomery bought the 5,124-square-foot restaurant building from the Gloria J. Sobhani estate of Santa Barbara, Calif. on Aug. 25. The Sobhani family originally acquired the building in 2004 for $2 million.

Rochester's north Baker's Square restaurant building at 3539 22nd Ave. sold for $1.65 million in April 2014. Pie3539 LLC of Rochester purchased it from the Duane and Karyl Fiddyment family of Elk Grove, Calif. Baker's Square signed a 20-year lease from that property in 2001.

August 11, 2015

New SW grocery store to open in September

The latest entry in Rochester's grocery scene plans to open its doors in mid-September.

Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage has been working on a 14,000-square-foot store at 1507 Greenview Drive SW by Kwik Trip and TJ Maxx Plaza for the past few months.

08112015naturalgrocersThe Golden, Colo.-based specialty grocery chain is planning to open on Sept. 15. Expect a large grand opening event with a couple preview days before for local VIPs.

Natural Grocers built its new store at the corner of Greenview Drive and Salem Road Southwest on a site once slated for a Think Mutual Bank branch. Think changed its strategy and opted to renovate its nearby branch.

This will be Natural Grocers' first store in Minnesota, though the 59-year-old public company operates 84 stores in 14 states, with 10 more stores expected to open soon.

Natural Grocers features organic foods as well as an extensive selection of vitamins and dietary supplements. The chain's website says its stores devote about 30 percent of their shelf space to vitamins, which in turn generates about 30 percent of its revenue.

The new store is the latest player in the increasingly competitive grocery scene in Rochester. Discount grocer Aldi recently opened a second store near Costco in northwest Rochester. Hy-Vee is working on its fourth location, which is slated to open later this year, and it will have a grand reopening of the remodeled 37th Street Northwest store on Aug. 20.


August 07, 2015

Apollo Liquors Express opens Oronoco location

Apollo is coming to Oronoco.

968825_549948038406056_1931891568_nThe Oronoco Gas N Go convenience store on the east side of U.S. Highway 52 North is popping the top on a new store-within-a-store today. The Gas N Go is opening up an Apollo Liquors Express store today.

To launch the new venture, the Gas N Go is hosting a grand opening celebration today and Saturday with music, food and prize giveaways.

August 04, 2015

Thai eatery closes, hopes to hit road as food truck

A northwest Rochester restaurateur has closed the doors of his eatery, but he hopes to eventually take his menu on the road.

Over the weekend, Pativath "Vot" Louprasong closed Sok Dee at 4180 18th Ave. NW in front of the Cedarwood Plaza shopping center. He said expenses had just gotten too high keep it open there.

That's the building which previously has housed Far East FusionJohn Hardy's Bar-B-Q and Roscoe's Root Beer & Ribs.

08042015sokdeeclosedLouprasong opened the Thai restaurant in 2013. In the past two years, his family's Thai food earned him a small but loyal group of fans in Rochester. He said he wants to thank those customers for their business. That's part of what is driving his plan to follow the hot national trend and start up a Sok Dee food truck.

"I have a good following of people. I'd like to start a food truck by early next spring," he said. "This won't be the last time they hear from me."

In 2013, Louprasong, the youngest of 10 siblings, said opening a restaurant was something he's wanted to do, "since my family came to the U.S. in 1979."

He thinks he'll have good luck with a truck — and Sok Dee means, basically, "good luck" in both the Thai and Laotian languages.

Why start a truck instead of looking for a new restaurant location?

"The freedom," said Louprasong. "But eventually, I would like have another sit-down restaurant."


July 28, 2015

New pizza place cooking for NW Rochester

Pizza is returning to Rochester's Northgate Plaza neighborhood.

A new carryout franchise called $5 Pizza is gearing up to open in the former Pizza Hut space at 1105 Seventh St. NW, says co-owner Doug Howe. Construction is underway, and he hopes to have the new eatery open by late August.

They expect to have a team of five to 10 employees on staff.

Darci Fenske of Paramark Real Estate brokered the deal to bring $5 Pizza into that spot.

UnnamedHowe and his partner, Rod Bailey, believe the pizza chain, which has 13 Minnesota locations, is a good fit for Rochester and that neighborhood in particular.

"We tried it up in the Cities. We loved the product and we loved the concept. We bake it and you carry it out," he said. "With this economy, it's always not always easy to feed a family."

The $5 Pizza approach is to keep costs down by not offering restaurant seating or delivery. Customers pick up pizzas. All one-topping pizzas cost just $5.

It offers a full menu, which includes specialty pizzas such as Cheeseburger and Inferno Chicken. It also serves breadsticks and a variety of chicken wings.

That spot puts $5 Pizza in the heart of a busy northwest Rochester neighborhood.

"We liked the fact it's a block away from John Marshall High School. And there's a lot of housing right behind us," said Howe. "Geographically, it's a great location for us."

July 24, 2015

A new burger chain plans to 'smash' into Rochester

Could the flames of Rochester's always simmering burger wars soon flare up from the heat of competition?

Possibly. Another national gourmet burger chain is planning to smash into the Rochester market.

Smashburger, a trendy burger juggernaut, is expanding rapidly its footprint across the U.S. and now Rochester is on its radar. The chain is known for "smashing" its fresh hamburger patties to sear in flavor.

Bigburger_situational_960x394_home_page-cactusSmashburger Marketing Manager Christine Ferris said they hope to be cooking in Rochester by late March 2016.

"To answer your question, we do have a site picked out according to our real estate sheet and it’s going to be a corporate restaurant, not franchise. It looks like the projected opening date is for late March of 2016," she wrote in answer to an inquiry about their plans.

This could bring a competitor into a city already dominated by hometown favorite and local burger champion Newt's.

In 2009, Five Guys Burgers arrived and threw down the burger battle gauntlet. Newt's has kept its title as the top burger power, but plenty of skirmishes continue between Five Guys, Culvers and the usual lineup of fast-food suspects.

SmashBurger_logoReaders have been clamoring for burger specialists White Castle, Red Robin and/or Sonic Drive-in for many years, but none of those players have ever gotten serious about cooking in the Med City.

The Denver, Colo.-based company already has 13 restaurants in Minnesota and is ready to start construction on a new one in Shakopee, according to an article in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal this week.

If Smashburger does open in Rochester in March, it will be the first new big national name to jump into the local fray, since Five Guys arrived six years ago.