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1456 posts categorized "Food news"

November 11, 2015

Sushi Nishiki goes dark … temporarily?

Rochester sushi fans noticed last week that the door was locked, the knives were put up and the lights were out at Sushi Nishiki.

11112015sushinishiskiHowever, it might not be the end of the Crouching Tiger roll or the Crazy Monkey roll.

A sign in the window says the closure is only temporary.

Word is the business at 2854 41st NW might be closed just as part of a transition to a new owner. However, no one is discussing details of the deal, because the sale is reportedly still being hashed out.

Lawrence Wong and Sammi Loo originally opened Sushi Nishiki in the Northwest Plaza, near IBM's hungry campus, in 2008.
In 2011, they also opened Impiana Kitchen and Sushi Bar at 318 S. Broadway — the former home of Sushi Itto/Katz's. Impiana Kitchen didn't find a niche on Broadway and it closed in 2013. 

Mango Thai
 soon moved into that spot and started cooking.

Insiders say that a similar change in owners is the story behind the Sushi Nishiki closure. I'll keep an eye on this to watch what happens next, because that's the way I roll. Heh.


November 09, 2015

Which Frontage Road restaurant building sold? Not the one you'd think.

While the empty restaurant next door is the one with a "For Sale" sign out front, it's Rochester's northwest Pizza Hut that recently sold for $1 million.

PRN10-PIZZA-HUT-LOGO-1y-4-1-1-1HighThe 29-year-old brick restaurant at 2001 U.S. 52 North Frontage Road was purchased by ERFK LTD of San Antonio, Texas on Oct. 28. It purchased the property, presumably as an investment, from San Antonio, Texas-based Muy Brands.

Given Muy's $168,000 investment in making over the building in early 2014, it seems likely that Pizza Hut will keep cooking there under the new landlord.

Muy Brands, one of the largest Pizza Hut franchisees in the U.S., acquired the three Rochester Pizza Huts as part of the purchase deal with Sky Ventures of Golden Valley. Sky Ventures sold 54 Pizza Huts to Muy at the end of 2013.

The Frontage Road Pizza Hut sold for $986,733. The Pizza Hut that shared a building with Taco Bell at 4000 Marketplace Drive NW closed this summer.

Muy also owns the Pizza Hut location at 840 S Broadway.

Now that this deal is done, it seems a safe bet that the next sale in the area will be right next to Pizza Hut.

The ex-McDonald's restaurant next door to the Frontage Road Pizza Hut has been empty and up for sale, since it moved to the new McDonald's restaurant by Costco, off 19th Street Northwest.

October 26, 2015

How about owning a Dunkin' Donuts shop?

Want to own a Dunkin' Donuts shop in Rochester?

The Massachusetts doughnut maker is making a major push into Minnesota with 24 new locations planned in the Twin Cities area. But its plans don't end at the metro area's boundaries.

Dunkin' is also looking for a new franchisee to open about five more shops in Rochester.

06232014dunkindonutsRochester Retail Services, a division of the Kahler Hospitality Services hotel group, opened a shop here in June 2014 at 15 First Ave. SW in the Kahler Grand Hotel complex in the heart of downtown. It was the first one in Minnesota since 2005. Dunkin' said then that Rochester Retail Services would be opening five more shops in the next few years.

Dunkin' Donuts Senior Director of Franchising Patrick Cunningham says that plan has now changed.

"Rochester Retail Services, the franchisee of record, will continue to own and operate the existing restaurant in the Kahler. However, they will not develop more Dunkin' stores as we previously reported," he said on Friday. "At this point, (Rochester) is open for more entrepreneurs. We're seeking franchisee candidates for Rochester, Mankato and southern Minnesota." 

Cunningham said he couldn't comment on how sales have been for the Kahler's Dunkin' shop, since it opened last year with 40 employees.

Patrick Short, Kahler Hospitality's managing director of operations, said the Rochester shop is doing well.

"Dunkin sales are steady with visitors to downtown Rochester and to Mayo employees. There are currently 18 employees, but I understand that they are looking for more counter help in the store just like many other businesses in Rochester today," he wrote in response to questions last week.

October 15, 2015

Is the Thickburger returning to Rochester?

It's been a long 14 years for Rochester fast food fans with a taste for Hardee's.

The restaurant known for its outlandish hamburger creations such as the Mile High Bacon Thickburger closed its doors in the Med City abruptly in 2001. Three Hardee's in Rochester and one in Stewartville closed their doors after franchisee Andris-Crawford Enterprises re-organized during bankruptcy. The four restaurants had 95 employees when they closed up shop.

HardeesADHowever, the over-the-top TV commercials still play locally, teasing people with gigantic mash-up burgers they can't have unless they drive to Winona or Austin.

And then the buzz started this summer that Hardee's and its smiley face star logo might be ready to make a comeback in Rochester.

Some calls to CKE Restaurants Inc., which owns St. Louis-based Hardee's and its California sibling Carl's Jr., eventually got a response in the form of a short email.

"We do have plans to open a Hardee’s in the Rochester area in the coming future, but at this time we cannot share any specifics on an opening date. We will keep you updated," wrote Melissa Penn of Hardee's.

So they are coming back to town … soonish. There's no word on where in Rochester or if there might more than one coming.

Whenever and wherever Hardee's opens, it will find a much more competitive Med City than when it left 14 years ago.

Many local spots in Rochester are well-known for their burgers such as hometown favorite Newt's, Wildwood Sports Bar, Fat Willy's and Rooster's Barn and Grill. The number of McDonald's, Burger Kings and Culver's locations have grown.

In 2009, Five Guys Burgers arrived and threw down the burger battle gauntlet. This summer, the trendy Smashburger chain also confirmed it has plans to be in Rochester sometime in 2016.

I guess we'll see just how big of an appetite Rochester has for fast food burgers. 

October 09, 2015

West Circle Drive Hy-vee by the numbers


Some numbers to know about Rochester's fourth Hy-vee grocery storeopening at 4211 W. Circle Drive NW.

09102015hyvee6• Oct. 20 - Opening date.
• 550 - Total number of employees.

• 125 - Part-time employees still to be hired.

• Oct. 12 - the next employee hiring event from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

• 94,0000-square-feet - the size of the largest of Rochester's four stores.

• 67,000 - the number of product items on the shelves.

• 8,500 - the number of products in the Health Market section, more than any other Hy-vee.

• 2 - Windmills in parking lot that generate energy for the electric car charger stations.

• More than 150 - Number of cheeses in the Charcuterie (Shar-coot-er-re) department.

• $100 or more - Minimum online grocery order Hy-vee will deliver to your home for free. Delivery charges will apply to smaller orders.

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.