The eyes have it.
Rochester's Dr. Ty Huber has signed a lease to open a second location for his Huber Eyecare clinic in the Kahler Grand Hotel lobby, in the corner space that overlooks the Peace Plaza and was last occupied by the Revelation/Les Wigs Renee shop.
"I'm sure it will be very successful. I'm not concerned at all about taking on such an expensive space," he said. Huber estimated that this new downtown location will cost about double the per-square-foot cost of his main clinic at Sienna Square, 711 Commerce Drive NW.
"I have a lot of customers who work downtown. This will make it easier for them to access Huber Eyecare," he said.
Huber, who opened his first local office in 2007, expects his contractor, Todd Severson of TLS Cos., to start work on the space later this month. He hopes to be able to open 1,360-square-foot space in early October. He's hiring a second optometrist and two other employees for the new clinic.
Leasing that high-profile corner of the Kahler to an eye clinic is a change to the previous strategy that Kahler Hospitality Group discussed during the high-profile lawsuit to evict Renee Carlson's Revelation/Les Wigs Renee/Merle Norman Cosmetics. While Carlson won the case, she eventually moved her businesses out of the Kahler at the end of 2015. In June, she opened a store in Decorah, Iowa.
During the 2013 case, Javon Bea, the Oronoco businessman who leads the investment partnership in charge of Kahler Hospitality Group, testified that "the new owners thought it (the hotel lobby) was very hodge-podge ... Some functions in the lobby were destinations, not impulse services, and they didn't think those were appropriate to be in the lobby of the Kahler Grand Hotel."
When asked for comment last week, Bea forwarded questions about how Huber Eye Care fits with that strategy to KHG's Chief Financial Officer Leslie Hohmann.
"I feel that Huber Optical is going to a good addition providing patient care support directly across from Mayo and the front of the Kahler Grand," Hohmann said in an email. "We expect that the optical business will be very neat and clean right next to the main entry to the Kahler Grand. While impulse businesses work well in many spots, they are often food-related and carry debris and smells that we did not feel were appropriate for the entry to the Kahler."