It was just closed on Thursday, due to a water heater problem. I checked in with a manager today and he said they expect to re-open the eatery in front of Crossroads Shopping Center at noon today.
After many months of on again, off again construction, it sounds like a new southeast Rochester commercial center could be ready for business soon.
Construction of a 5,040-square-foot retail building began last summer in front of the Eastwood Plaza at 1513 12 St. S.E. A variety of issues, including an easement dispute, have slowed the progress of the project.
But that is all in the past now, according to Ari Kolas. Kolas is one of the owners of Eastwood Plaza under the name of Athena 2004 LLC. He also is an owner of Rochester-based Apollo Wine & Spirits, which has one of its six Rochester stores based in Eastwood Plaza. It also has a franchised store in the Shoppes on Maine development in the southwest quadrant and a store in Austin.
"It should be done sometime in early June," he said.
The new building has three retail spots, two of which already are leased. When completed, Cricket Wireless and Little Caesars Pizza are slated to move in and open for business.
The third space, which includes a drive-up window, still is available, according to Kolas. He is hoping to find a food establishment of some sort as a tenant.
This Eastwood project is one that Kolas has been thinking about for a long time.
"I always wanted to do something on the outlot. I was just waiting for the proper opportunity to do it. The climate is good for it now with the growth of Rochester," he said previously. "It's been in the back of my head forever. It's got awesome visibility."
Kolas is enthusiastic about the intersection of 12th Street Southeast and Marion Road, which Athena 2004 bought for $1.6 million in 2004.
"It's a great corner that people forget about. It really is a great neighborhood," he said. — Jeff Kiger
Rochester's Old Country Buffet has served its final serving of mashed potatoes and gravy.
Officials the chain's parent company, Ovation Brands, confirmed Tuesday morning that the Rochester location is closed for good.
This is despite signs on the door stating that the restaurant at 1300 Salem Road SW is closed for "an asset inventory." Employees said on Monday that they had been told that after the "asset inventory" that the restaurant would re-open on Wednesday.
The sign on the front door states an employee meeting is scheduled for this afternoon. Presumably, details about the closing will be shared then.
This closing is just one of many for the Greer, South Carolina-based Ovation Brand, which is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy for the third time in eight years. In February, the company closed about 30 percent of its various 243 brand restaurants. It also operates HomeTown Buffet and Ryan’s.
OCB recently closed its restaurants in Maple Grove, Coon Rapids and St. Cloud, along with Rochester. The only two Minnesota restaurants now listed on OCB's website are Burnsville and Mankato.
Old Country Buffet got its start in Minnesota in 1983 and as recently as 2008 had 626 stores, before declaring bankruptcy twice. In 2014, the corporate office in Eagan had about 125 employees.
A new Caribou Coffee and Einstein Bros. Bagels shop is slated to be built along North Broadway this year.
Dr. Ajay Nehra submitted plans Monday for a 2,500-square-foot building to be constructed in the parking lot of the River Center Plaza shopping center. That's the mall formerly known as Northbrook, located across Broadway from the Silver Lake Shopping Center.
The proposed plans place the new coffee and bagels place it near the Broadway entrance to River Center and near the Fiesta Café & Bar end the shopping center. The
new shop is slated to have a drive-through window to attract morning commuters looking for a caffeine and bagel fix on the way to work.
These plans are very early in the permitting process, so there is no timeline yet for the project.
When this River Center location starts serving up lattes and frappes, it will be Rochester's 10th Caribou Coffee shop.
This Caribou/Einstein Bros. location will mirror a 2,500-square-foot one built last year in the Costco development area off of 19th Street Northwest. That shop was built by TJL Development, of St. Paul.
A high-profile northwest Rochester commercial center sold for $5.2 million last week.
The 16-year-old retail center at 2870 41st St. NW was purchased by San Diego, Calif.-based HW Rochester LLC on Feb. 23. That center houses Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Scrubs & Beyond, Sushi Nishiki and other businesses at the entrance to the Rochester Marketplace area.
The sale shows how Rochester's commercial real estate market is heating up. Olmsted County estimated the building's market value at $3.48 million for 2016.
Sara Investment Real Estate of Madison, Wis. under the corporate name of Rochester Marketplace Property Group LLC sold the 17,920-square-foot center. The Wisconsin group purchased it in 2013 for $4.5 million.
That commercial strip at 2870 41st St. N.W. was built in 2000 as part of the overall Rochester Marketplace development by the Twin Cities developer Ryan Cos. US Inc. The building stands in front of Rochester's SuperTarget North and the nearby Home Depot store.
Bishop Management Co., of Rochester, bought that piece of the development from Ryan Cos. for $4 million in February 2003. 2B Rochester Market Place, LLC, which is a Bishop company, made the sale to Sara Investment, according to Olmsted County property records.
Ryan sold the rest of its property in Rochester Marketplace in September 2003 to The Inland Real Estate Group of Companies, of Oakbrook, Ill.
Looks like change is on the menu at Rochester's only Cajun eatery.
Joe and Theresa Peplinski's Lost Cajun restaurant at 2025 S Broadway didn't open its doors Monday. Signs out front and posted on the windows said the restaurant said, "Sorry. We're closed for remodeling. Stay Tuned..."
However, employees said they were notified by email Sunday night that the restaurant is closed for good. The Rochester restaurant is no longer listed as a location on the national Lost Cajun website. The Peplinkis also canceled advertisements by email, saying that the restaurant had "closed its doors."
The owners were not available for comment on Monday.
If the Lost Cajun is done, it's possible that another restaurant concept under new owners is in the works. That could explain the "remodeling" signs. At this point, it seems Rochester diners will need to do as the sign says and "stay tuned."
In the early summer of 2014, the Rochester couple was very optimistic when they opened The Lost Cajun. The southern flavored restaurant is a franchise based on the original Lost Cajun in Colorado.
They transformed a 19-year-old former SuperAmerica convenience store into a 1,900-square-foot restaurant with a bayou decor.
The Lost Cajun is known for serving up gumbo, beignets, chicory coffee, po' boy sandwiches and other authentic Louisiana dishes.
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.
The 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.
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.
Rochester 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.
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.
However, 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.
While clipping might be a bad thing on the football field, it's to be expected at a new sports-themed business coming to south Rochester.
A male-focused barber shop franchise is bringing sports and haircuts together in south Rochester.
Owners Steve and Anne Ogren of the Twin Cities plan to open the first Med City location of Sport Clips, a new male-focused barbershop franchise that brings sports and hair cuts together. A banner for the new location recently went up in a storefront by Nupa Mediterranean Cuisine on Crossroads Drive.
"We're just waiting on Rochester building permits. We hope to be under construction any day now," said Steve Ogren. "We'd like to be open by late October."
He expects to hire 12 to 15 stylists.
Texas-based Sport Clips, one of the fastest growing franchises in the U.S., already has 39 locations in Minnesota. However, this will be the first in the southeastern area.
The concept follows the traditional barber shop walk-in model, with lots of large-screen TVs showing sports and stylists dressed in pro jerseys. They also feature basket court-style hardwood floors. A "MVP" treatment includes shampoo, haircut, hot towel and a neck and shoulder massage.
Ogren says when he was looking for business opportunities, he was impressed by the family-owned Sport Clips core philosophy based on a quote from legendary coach Lou Holtz. "Do Your Best. Do What's Right. Treat Others the Way They Want to Be Treated.”
"They offered the kind of culture I was looking for," said Ogren.
He added that he and his wife decided to open their Sport Clips in Rochester, because it seems to fit well with the city.
"It's a growing big city with a small town community feel," he said.