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268 posts categorized "Hotels and lodging"

March 06, 2015

10 years of blogging Rochester

On March 4, 2005, I wrote my first blog post. Kiger's Notebook blogo 2x

It was my sixth year at the Post-Bulletin. I created the "Heard on the Street" column about three years before the blog began. 

More  than 6,200 posts, stacks of columns, mountains of tweets and many gray hairs later, I'm still here writing about business and things vaguely related to businesPhoto on 2015-03-03 at 18.11s in southeastern Minnesota.

It'syou, the readers, who make this career such a fulfilling and entertaining one. Thank you everyone for your feedback, criticism and support over these past 10 years. 

10 years of blogging Rochester

On March 4, 2005, I wrote my first blog post.Kiger's Notebook blogo 2x

It was my siPhoto on 2015-03-03 at 18.11xth year at the Post-Bulletin. I created the "Heard on the Street" column about three years before the blog began. 

More than 6,200 posts, stacks of columns, mountains of tweets and many gray hairs later, I'm still here writing about business and things vaguely related to business in southeastern Minnesota.

It's you, the readers, who make this career such a fulfilling and entertaining one. Thank you everyone for your feedback, criticism and support over these past 10 years.  

January 20, 2015

Rochester's Maple Manor sold for $3.5 million

The Blum family's history has been interwoven with Rochester's Maple Manor Health Care and Rehabilitation since its doors opened in late 1964. 

That changed last week, when Pat Blum retired after 36 years as an administrator, and the family sold the nursing home at 1875 19th St. NW for $3.5 million. Pritok Capital of Skokie, Ill., purchased Maple Manor. Pritok now owns seven small senior facilities across the country, including one in St. Cloud.

"It's time to step aside, but it's a sad goodbye," said Blum. "I have mixed feelings obviously. You're talking about moving on from something that has really defined me for 50-plus years of my life."

MaplemanorIt all started when Pat's parents, David and Dorothy Blum, with the help of their six sons, began managing the facility on the first day its doors opened. In fact, the whole family lived and worked there for a year as it was getting going.

"It was all hands on deck back then," said Pat Blum, laughing as he remembered telling school friends that he lived in a nursing home. "Nursing homes used have a lot more families involved in running them."

After he graduated from college and earned his administrator's license, Pat began working at Maple Manor in 1978. His parents retired in 1981.

A new administrator, Karl Swedberg, took the reins last week. He has known the Blums professionally for 17 years and is familiar with Maple Manor.

"We're really excited to be in Rochester. I don't expect any big changes immediately for residents or the staff," Swedberg said.

Maple Manor has more than 100 full-time and part-time employees on staff.

"This is a good match for us. They really 'get' it," Blum said of Pritok.

Pritok is coming into the Rochester market during a senior living building boom, with several new facilities, such as River Bend Assisted Living and The Waters on Mayowood, opening and almost all of the existing ones in the area expanding. Being near Mayo Clinic makes Rochester very attractive to the more than 77 million baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964.

While the Blums are no longer involved with Maple Manor, that doesn't mean they are done with senior care. In 1981, the Blum brothers realized when residents were discharged, "They weren't getting enough support," Pat said. That drove them to start Comfort Health, one of the first home health-care programs in the area.

The family still owns Meadow Lakes Senior Living in Rochester and Prairie Meadows Senior Living in Kasson. Pat still has responsibilities at Comfort Health, which is run by his brother, Chris Blum. Another brother, Pete Blum, still handles the finances of Meadow Lakes and Prairie Meadows.

"I'm still working toward being totally retired," Pat said. "The irony is that my wife just recently graduated as a nurse."

January 07, 2015

Firm with 3 Rochester hotels now employee owned

TPI Hospitality, which has three hotels and about 125 employees in Rochester, transitioned from the family-owned company to an employee-owned one at the start of 2015.

The Willmar-based firm owns the recently opened Homewood Suites, SpringHill Suites by Marriott and Courtyard by Marriott featuring the Saints on Second restaurant in Rochester. All of them are located near Mayo Clinic's St. Marys Hospital on Second Street Southwest.

545d8b3c2992e.imageIt also owns Days Inn, Holiday Inn Conference Center and Perkins Restaurant in Austin. TPI also owns a Perkins Restaurant in Red Wing.

Overall, TPI owns and operates 31 hotel properties and nine restaurants. It has six more hotels under construction. All of its properties are in Minnesota, except a Staybridge Suites hotel in Naples, Fla.

TPI Hospitality has been owned by the Torgerson family since it was founded as a retail business in 1930. In September, CEO Tom Torgerson surprised his employees by announcing he planned to transition ownership through an employee stock ownership plan.

“I chose an ESOP to reward employees for their past, current and future diligent service to TPI, to preserve the legacy of our work and position TPI for the next 50 years and beyond," he saidin a release. "The transition to 100 percent employee ownership not only helps to secure the future of TPI Hospitality as a locally owned and operated company but it also allows us to reward our almost 1,800 employees, many of whom have been with the company for over 20 years, with a superior retirement benefit”.

TPI says it is now one of the largest employee-owned hospitality companies in the country and it is on track to grow to become the largest.

“Becoming an ESOP will require a change in perspective by everyone. I envision an environment where every employee acts as an owner without regard for their specific role within the company. Just imagine the impact of having 1800 owners approaching their jobs the same way,” said Chief Operating Officer Mitch Peterson.

December 15, 2014

Beltz leaves Titan for Waters on Mayowood

In case you didn't see this in print over the weekend, here's a column about an interesting pesonnel change.

Plus it sounds like another well-known Rochester leader is also making a switch. Should have more on that soon.

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A well-known leader in Rochester's hospitality industry was recently hired by a large, new senior living complex.

John Beltz started on Dec. 1 as the manager of community relations for The Waters on Mayowood, a new 175-unit senior living community under construction at Mayowood Road Southwest and 16th Street Southwest. It's expected to be ready to open for residents in March.

0e7496bThe massive 282,070-square-foot complex will feature a variety types of apartments in two four-story buildings. That will include 71 independent living apartments, 70 senior living with services, 20 memory care and 14 enhanced care apartments.

Beltz has been a high-profile local hospitality executive for many years. Since 2013, he has worked as vice-president of brand management and revenue development for the Chafoulias family's Titan Development and Investments. Prior to that, he worked for Broadway Residence and Suites for six years. From 2002 to 2007, he worked at Rochester's Kahler hotels as a regional vice president for then-owner Sunstone Hotels.

"This is just an another application for my hospitality skills for a new demographic," he said of the new position. "I'm excited to be working with an organization that's really poised for growth."

The Waters on Mayowood is the creation of Rochester developer Jeff C. Brown partnered with The Waters Senior Living of Minnetonka as the operator. The Waters is in charge of seven senior living centers in Minnesota.

“John’s extensive background in high-end hotel management is a perfect fit for The Waters on Mayowood’s upscale community and discerning residents,” stated Waters CEO Kyle Didler in his hiring announcement.

The Waters also hired another well-known Rochester at the start of 2014, when it added Bruce Rohde as the director of community operations for The Waters on Mayowood. Rhode had previously worked for Mayo Clinic for 25 years, most recently serving as the high-profile chair of the facilities division.

December 01, 2014

Ramada = Kahler Apache

A 37-year-old Rochester hotel is trading a national brand for a local one.

The Ramada Hotel & Conference Center, owned by Dan and Terri Penz, of Rochester, officially became the Kahler Apache on Friday. The 149-room hotel is at 1517 16th St. S.W.

Neither of the Penzes were available for comment on Sunday.

01122014ramadakahlersignWhile the southwest hotel now shares a name with four downtown hotels, Kahler Hospitality Group Marketing Director Cherylanne Thomas said it is not financially linked to the other hotels, and KHG is not licensing the name. KHG, which is led locally by businessman Javon Bea, owns the Kahler Grand Hotel, the Kahler Inn & Suites, the Marriott Rochester, the Residence Inn and the Textile Care Services industrial laundry.

"We're just managing this for Dan Penz. We're just consultants," she said. "We just lent him our name to his property because he chose to de-flag it as a Ramada. We're saving him on the franchise fee, which is savings he can pass on to his guests."

KHG and the Penzes signed a contractlast summer that turned the management of the hotel over to the Kahler hotel team. In a similar relationship, KHG hired Colorado-based Richfield Hospitality to manage the Kahler hotels in 2013. Thomas said because KHG doesn't have ownership in the Kahler Apache, Richfield does not have any involvement that hotel.

This name change for the former Ramada will have no effect on the hotel's about 60 employees, said Thomas.

"They are still under an employment contract with Dan Penz. That has nothing to do with us," she said.

01122014kahlerapchesignA longtime Kahler employee, Chase Albrecht was recently named as general manager of the hotel.

"He (Albrecht) now is an employee of Dan Penz," Thomas said. "The previous GM had left on his own."

The Penzes originally purchased the hotel when it was under the Best Western brand in 2002. It became a Ramada franchise in 2004. The hotel originally was built by well-known developer George Baihly in 1977, and it opened as a Midway Motor Lodge. This is the first time the hotel will not have a national brand name over the entrance.

Driven by loyal return visitors coming for Mayo Clinic, Rochester has long been a stronghold for independent hotels without a national brand. While the Kahler name was franchised nationally in the past, Rochester has always been its primary base of operations. Other local independents include the Fiksdal Hotel and the adjacent Aspen Suites.


Local developer Ed Pompeian also has found success with his two Brentwood hotels.

Independent hotels struggled for many years nationally as the big chains established online reservations and rewards program. However, that is changing, said industry expert Smith Travel Research Inc. STR data shows occupancy and revenue at independent hotels growing quickly this year. Analysts point to local market knowledge and online review sites, such as Tripadvisor.com as keeping independents competitive with big chains like Marriott and Hilton.

Hotels, always important in Rochester, are growing quickly as part of the new Destination Medical Center economy. Almost 400 new rooms to be added in 2015 to the current 5,443 rooms.
Brad Jones, executive director of the city's Convention and Visitors Bureau, expects Rochester will pass the 6,000 room milestone in 2017.

November 20, 2014

Fairfield Inn on the rise

112014fairfieldinnIn looks like work is really rolling along on Rochester's new Fairfield Inn & Suites.

This is the 91-room, four-story hotel being built at 10 17th Ave. N.W., where th e Courtesy Inn was demolished this summer. That's near the Miracle Mile Shopping Center.

 

This project is being spearheaded by two second generation hoteliers, Nick Pompeian and Harshal Patel.

07042014courtesyinn

Here's an early demo pic from July.

 
 
 

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.