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261 posts categorized "Hotels and lodging"

August 21, 2014

Homewood Suites construction rolling along

08212014homewoodsuitesEven though the skies are stormy, it's clear sailing on the construction on the new 108-room, six-story Homewood Suites extended stay hotel near Saint Marys Hospital.

Rochester's Carpenter family and Torgerson Properties, of Willmar, are building the Homewood hotel next door to their Courtyard by Marriott hotel. They also own SpringHill Suites.

Work on this project started a year ago. Dennis Wallenta, vice president of hotel operations for Torgerson Properties, says construction is on track for the hotel to open this fall, possibly in November.

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 06, 2014

New northwest Rochester McDonald's to open next week

Courtesy Corp., which owns the six McDonald's restaurants in Rochester, plans to open its new northwest location on Aug. 14.

05082014newmcdonaldscostcoThe still under-construction McDonald's stands in front of the Costco warehouse store, facing West Circle Drive Northwest.

It will replace Courtesy Corp.'s long-time restaurant on the U.S. 52 North frontage road near 19th Street Northwest. That location closed earlier this week in preparation for the opening on the new restaurant.

When plans for the new restaurant were announced last year, Courtesy Corp. President Rick Lommen said the old McDonald's had about 65 employees on staff. He anticipated that number could grow to 80 or 90, when the new one opens.

The company spent $1.32 million to buy the land in the 108 acre commercial development, which is owned  the real estate development arm of the Kwik Trip convenience store chain.

Lommen explained that McDonald's thought the restauran05082014closingmcdonaldst would do much better in the rapidly growing area at the corner of West Circle Drive and 19th Street Northwest.

"I just believe that long-term that is going to be an outstanding development, and it will show significant growth for years to come," he said.

Conversely, the longtime location on the U.S. 52 Frontage Road lost much of its visibility and customer traffic when the highway was updated a few years ago.

Courtesy Corp. is not the only company that's banking on the growth in that northwest development that's exploding around Costco and a Kwik Trip station.

A 77-room Comfort Inn and Suites and a 109-room Staybridge Suites are both under construction near the new McDonald's. Discount grocer Aldi also recently announced its own plans to build a second Rochester store in the same area.

A St. Paul-based developer,TJL Development is working on plans for a 2,500-square-foot building to be occupied by a co-branded coffee and food business as well as a 4,000-square-foot store for a national retailer.

July 30, 2014

Developer working on new projects in N.W. Roch.

A St. Paul-based developer is looking to follow up its first Med City project with a couple more in the increasingly active northwest quadrant.


TJL Development recently built a new 4,000-square-foot paint store for Sherwin-Williams in south Rochester, in front of the south ShopKo and Menards stores.

Now the firm is working on projects by the Costco complex in northwest Rochester.

"We're hopeful to soon finalize transactions for two free-standing buildings," said Jim Lavalle, principal of TJL Development.

If the deals work out as he hopes, TJL will construct a 2,500-square-foot building to be occupied by a co-branded coffee and food business as well as a 4,000-square-foot store for a national retailer. The developer would own the buildings and lease them to the tenants.

"Rochester is a great place to do business, is what we've found, and we'd like to do more business down there," said Lavalle of why his firm is working in the Med City.

These plans would just add to the flurry of construction already underway in front of Costco and Kwik Trip.

A new McDonald's restaurant is being built there to replace the older one on the U.S. 52 North Frontage Road. Construction also is buzzing along for a 77-room Comfort Inn and Suites and a 109-room Staybridge Suites in the same area.

Discount grocer, Aldi, also recently announced plans to build a 17,000-square-foot store within the same development, at the corner of 22nd Street Northwest and Commerce Drive.

The whole 108-acre area on the northeast corner of West Circle Drive and 19th Street Northwest is being developed by Northwest Investments, the real estate arm of Kwik Trip Inc. For years, Hans Zietlow of the La Crosse, Wis.-based Kwik Trip has said that spot is the "key property" on Rochester's west side.

With all of the dirt moving and walls going up, it looks like a lot of people agree with him. 

July 22, 2014

Bea's Kahler group reaches beyond Rochester's downtown

The Kahler Hospitality Group, the Rochester company led by Javon Bea, is checking out the hotel market beyond downtown.

15344_b1The local buzz for weeks has been that the Kahler group, which owns four hotels in downtown Rochester, is taking the reins at the Ramada Hotel & Conference Center at 1517 16th St. S.W.

While neither the KHG leadership nor Ramada team officially have admitted it, a recent Kahler email about catering changes seems to confirm that the hotels are now linked.

A mass email sent Monday by the Kahler group's new catering director included the Ramada logo among its hotel brands and it specifically pointed out that the Kahler's new policy opening its event spaces to outside caterers does not include the Ramada Hotel.

Chef Pasquale Presa, the Kahler's executive director of food and beverage operations, also includes the Ramada in the list of hotels under his management on his professional LinkedIn page. Local contractors also say that the Kahler group is talking to local builders about contracting for work on the Ramada complex.

The big unanswered question is whether the Kahler Hospitality Group has purchased the hotel from Rochester developers Dan and Terri Penz or if KHG has been contracted just to manage the Ramada facility.

No matter which is correct, the Kahler's involvement with the Ramada signals a major change for both organizations.

The Penzes also own the adjacent T.J. Maxx Shopping Center and Elcor Construction as well as other Rochester properties and businesses. They bought the hotel in January 2002 and changed its brand from Best Western to Ramada in 2004.

In 2011, the Penzes closed their hotel restaurant called Teresa's. That cleared the way for Joe Powers and his Powers Ventures firm to create new convention space within the hotel. At about the same time, Jim Nicholas leased space to open Wildwood Sports Bar in the Ramada complex. It's unclear what kind of impact, if any, the Kahler involvement in the hotel could have on the Powers and Wildwood operations.

On the other end of the deal, the Kahler Hospitality Group is a collection of five unidentified investors who bought the Kahler Grand Hotel, the Kahler Inn & Suites, the Marriott Rochester, the Residence Inn and the Textile Care Services industrial laundry for $230 million in 2012. Javon Bea, of Oronoco, is the well known public face of the organization.

In 2013, the Kahler group hired the Colorado-based Richfield Hospitality to manage the downtown hotels.

July 08, 2014

Cowboy Jacks now open on Broadway

The word is that Rochester's latest Western-themed eatery opened its doors and fired up the grill on Monday.

074After an extended build-out, Cowboy Jack’s is now cooking in the Wyndham Garden hotel at 1625 S. Broadway. That's the 145-unit hotel that was under the America's Best Value Inn and Suites brand from 2011 to November 2013.

Cowboy Jack's is a casual, American-style restaurant chain based in the Twin Cities.

The name and look of the hotel's bar and restaurant has morphed several times in the past few years. In 2008, it became Macho Nacho. Later it transformed into Ron's Place, which then became The Fieldhouse.

The Wayzata-based Bay Ridge Properties own the 40-year-old hotel. Bay Ridge purchased it in February 2012 for $4.8 million.

July 05, 2014

Courtesy Inn going down = Fairfield Inn going up

Demolition of the Courtesy Inn is picking up speed to clear the way for a new hotel to be built in northwest Rochester.

07042014courtesyinnOnce the old 44-room Courtesy Inn is torn down, a group of local investors will start construction of a 91-room, four-story Fairfield Inn & Suites hotel on the site at 510 17th Ave. N.W. That's near the Miracle Mile Shopping Center.

Parts of the Courtesy Inn date to 1952, when Marcel Prow opened Prow's Hotel.

The local investors are led by Nick Pompeian and Harshal Patel.

Construction of the Fairfield Inn is expected to take between six to eight months.

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.

May 09, 2014

Kahler ready to freshen up downtown Rochester

Kahler Inn & Suites is ready to freshen up downtown Rochester this weekend.

Freshëns, a NewPicture41 national fast casual restaurant chain, is ready to open its doors in the hotel complex on the corner of Third Avenue and First Street Northwest.


While the official grand opening and ribbon cutting is slated for Wednesday, Dick Sursely says he expects to launch with a "soft opening" before that, possibly as soon as Saturday.

The Atlanta, Ga.-based company's menu features an array of “better for you” healthy options like rice bowls, smoothies, flatbread salads, crêpes and Freshëns' signature frozen yogurt.

The eatery has seating for 16 inside and more outside. However, Sursely expects the bulk of their business to be "take-and-go" customers during the downtown lunch rush.

This first Freshëns has 14 employees on staff. The Kahler Hospitality Group has a second downtown location already cooking in the subway of the Marriott subway. Construction is underway in the subway space last occupied by Cinta Molloy's Crate.

"They expect to have that one ready to open in a couple of months, possibly in August or July," said Sursely.

He said the plan is to hire about the same size team to run that one as the Kahler Suites' Freshëns. Sursely anticipates having about 30 employees, once both locations are up and running.

The Kahler Hospitality Group also is working on the first Dunkin' Donuts seen in Minnesota for many years. The prodigal Dunkin is being built out by Rochester's Schoeppner construction along First Avenue in the Kahler Hotel complex. Kahler officials have said they expect to open the new doughnut shop this summer.

Unconfirmed bakery buzz about plans for a second Rochester Dunkin Donuts is rolling around, rumored to be outside of downtown, possibly in southeast Rochester.

April 15, 2014

Doubletree's Rochester Club to stop serving lunch

RochclubletterTitan Development's Doubletree by Hilton hotel sent out a letter to the members of its exclusive Rochester Club to notify them that the club will soon stop serving lunch.

These club members have access to the Doubletree's Executive Lounge, which it accessible only from the two executive level floors. It serves a hot breakfast buffet, a light hot dinner and cocktails with the Doubletree cookies and milk later in the evening.

Rochester clubNot sure how many people are members of the Rochester Club, but I believe a lot of local business leaders use this service.

The letter, which was forwarded to me from multiple members, mentions how much Titan has on its plate right now with its two downtown developments. It didn't explain how those projects connect to the Rochester Club and exactly why the lunch is going away.

I have a call in to the hotel to try to get more details.