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October 05, 2015

More Goodwill for Rochester

The new Goodwill thrift store is going up quickly in northwest Rochester.

10042015goodwillThe framework of the new 28,000-square-foot stands at the corner of 19th Street Northwest and Scott Road Northwest. That's the 19th Street entrance to the Costco commercial area. The store is slated to sit opposite the Kwik Trip station across Scott Road.

It's being built by a Minneapolis developer, The Driessen Group. The nonprofit Goodwill organization has not commented much about the project, but the unofficial buzz is that this new store will serve as a second Rochester location.

In 2008, a Goodwill store with 15,000 square feet of retail space was built at 239 28th St. SE in the Broadway Commons commercial area. The nonprofit organization moved into it after leaving its old Rochester spot at 660 37th St. NW. 

October 01, 2015

A Mayo Clinic linked firm working with DMC planner to develop new Madison biosciences hub

A firm with deep ties to Mayo Clinic is making a move to anchor a downtown Madison, Wis., biosciences hub with help from the development manager of Rochester's Destination Medical Center initiative.

Exact Sciences Corp. licensed technology from Mayo Clinic in 2009 and 2012 for Cologuard, a stool-based DNA test for colorectal cancer. The test is based on research by Mayo Clinic's Dr. David A. Ahlquist and his laboratory.

LogoOriginally based in Boston, city officials at one point hoped Exact would move to Rochester. However, Madison gave the company $1 million to move its headquarters there in 2009.

Since then, the company has flourished, and now it's planning to build a new $200 million, 250,000-square-foot headquarters in downtown Madison with $46.7 million in financial aid from the city.The Madison City Council recently OKed the deal, which requires that Exact will have 400 employees in the building by 2019.

The developer of the project is JDS Development LLC, which is a joint venture between Hammes Co. and Majestic Realty. Hammes is the Wisconsin consultant that is in charge of DMC. It also is working directly with Mayo Clinic on the Discovery Square portion of the DMC project. Hammes also has been hired by the Rochester Convention and Visitors Bureau to do a feasibility study for the proposed hockey arena to house a possible US Hockey League team here.

Hammesco_blue_logoHammes' Exact development will include a 250 room hotel, a food court, health and wellness facility, conference and media centers and lots of room for retail and restaurants.

Exact CEO Kevin Conroy told the Madison City Council that, "We hope that by having a life science company headquarters in downtown Madison, it will spur economic development throughout the region and have a positive impact on downtown."

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 15, 2015

High-profile 2nd Street property sold for residence

After years of being up for sale, a long-time Second Street Southwest business recently sold for $272,000.

On Sept. 1, Dick Saterdalen sold the 64-year-old house at 2120 Second St. S.W. where he lives and operates Dick's Auto Sales. He also previously ran the Liquidation Store at the site. He sold the property to Abdullah M. Aljaberi, according Olmsted County property records.
Saterdalen says he will continue to run Dick's Auto Sales at the site until Dec. 1, when he will move the operation to a small farm on Rochester's Viola Road.

Aljaberi is reportedly planning to renovate the house and use it as a residence, according to Saterdalen.

That Second Street house/storefront was in the news in 2013, when the City of Rochester began its $7 million re-construction of the area now dubbed as "Uptown." When a new median was built in front of the property, the 24-year-old business lost its direct left-turn access as well as on-street parking spaces.

Saterdalen complained that the Uptown project killed a deal he had with a bank that wanted to buy his property.  He also protested the assessment that the city charged him for the project.

Overall, Saterdalen blamed Mayo Clinic's Destination Medical Center Initiative for forcing his old-fashioned business/residence off of Second Street.

September 14, 2015

Firm settling into new offices along West Circle Drive

An engineering and architecture firm settled into its newly renovated digs in northwest Rochester last week.

Crookston-based Widseth Smith Nolting officially moved into the former Home Design Studio at 3777 40th Ave. NW on Thursday. WSN opened a Rochester site in 2009, which has grown into one of the largest of its seven offices in Minnesota and North Dakota. It now houses a staff of 21.

7f0e237b3c81468f9c2209c9df28e638It moved from a 4,500-square-foot office at 6301 Bandel Road NW.

To accommodate its rapidly expanding needs, WSN purchased the 32,000-square-foot complex on West Circle Drive for $1.6 million in February.

"We looked at lot of different buildings all around the city. We really like this building," said Brian Carlson, WSN's director of business development in Rochester, earlier this year. "We liked the exposure. We liked the location and the ability to have our whole team in one spot."

WSN, which merged with Rochester's Kane and Johnson Architects in 2014, has been renovating the building for several months.

In addition to creating offices and conference rooms for its staff, WSN has carved out parts of the building for commercial tenants. Many prospective tenants are seriously considering leasing the space, but none have been announced yet.

This project has breathed new life into the unique nine-year-old building along West Circle Drive.

It was designed by Kane and Johnson Architects as a home builders' showroom with model kitchens, bathrooms and other room layouts. Spearheaded by local contractor Jerome Bigelow, a group of 13 owners optimistically launched the operation with a grand party attended by hundreds of Rochester business leaders. It had 59 people on staff working for a variety of construction-related businesses. The last occupants moved out in April 2012.

Event Studio LLC, of Rochester, then bought the complex from Partnership 10, of Byron, in 2013 for $1.3 million. 

September 10, 2015

Want to 'sport' a new haircut?

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.

09092016sportclipsTexas-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. 

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.

September 08, 2015

Clements to build 2nd dealership for Subaru

Clements Chevrolet Cadillac Subaru is looking south to build an $8 million dealership just for Subaru, its fastest growing brand.

The 87-year-old, locally owned dealership has purchased a 9.5-acre site covered in grass and clover at the corner of 48th Street Southeast and St. Bridget Road Southeast. That's just east of Mills Fleet Farm.

Clements Managing Partner John Wade expects construction to begin next year and hopefully wrap up in the fourth quarter of 2016. Wade owns Clements with partners Jack Remick, Dave Remick and Dan Penz. 

09-04 Subaru enWade described the planned dealership as an "eco-friendly, state-of-the-art sales and service campus" that will face the 48th Street intersection at a northwest angle.

The owners say the explosive growth of its Subaru brand, with its sales doubling in the past year, is driving this plan to spin a second dealership site off the main dealership at the entrance of Rochester's Apache Mall.

"This expansion is what we need to keep up with the service and sales demands of our customers," explained Wade.

Nationally, Subaru sales are exploding in the United States. Subaru reported 45 consecutive months of year-over-year growth in August, when it sold 52,679 vehicles for the month. It was the 25th consecutive month where Subaru sold more than 10,000 Foresters and the 18th consecutive month where it sold more than 10,000 Outbacks

In 2011, Clements built a 4,200-square-foot showroom adjacent to its main dealership to spotlight Subaru, but the demand has outgrown its capacity to display 40 vehicles. Todd Penz, who will serve as the general sales manager of the Clements Subaru dealership, says the new lot will be able to house more than 370 vehicles.

Clements, which now has 115 employees, expects to add 20 new positions to staff the new site. Wade estimates that equals an additional of more than $1 million in payroll for Rochester.

He also expects the addition of the second site will bring Clements' annual property tax contribution to more than $500,000.

"This multimillion dollar commitment is a major investment as well as an expression of confidence in the Rochester area marketplace, which in the end expands the local tax and employment base," said Gary Smith, the president of Rochester Area Economic Development Inc.

The new dealership will join Rochester Toyota and Mercedes-Benz of Rochester in the growing Shoppes on Maine area off US 63, which is booming along with the rest of the city. A 360-unit apartment complex called Maine Heights has been proposed right behind the Clements Subaru property. A $35 million housing project called The Boulders, which will include 144 apartments and 80 townhouses, also is planned.

"There's great growth in the area with a strong economic base," said Wade. "We're a regional dealership with customers throughout southeastern Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin. This is a good crossroads for us to build this new dealership."

September 03, 2015

Don't expect a second Sam's Club in Rochester

Destination Medical Center has many companies eagerly expanding their footprints in Rochester, though one huge retailer has decided to put on the brakes.

After years of discussion, Walmart has ended its plans for a second Rochester Sam's Club store.

6a00d83451cc8269e201a73d8867a9970d-250wiFor about eight years, I've asked a succession of Walmart officials about the possibility, as rumors repeatedly surfaced that a south Sam's Club complex could be built in the Shoppes on Maine area, possibly near the the 48th Street Southeast exit.

The answers from the Bentonville, Ark.-based giant always were vague, until last March, when Walmart's director of communications sent a positive response.

"We are always looking for opportunities to better serve our Rochester customers and are making plans to add a second Sam's Club to serve the growing need among area customers who want to buy wholesale merchandise in bulk at affordable prices," stated Delia Garcia by email.

However, those plans have changed between then and now. Garcia wrote another response to a request for updated information this week.

“We are constantly evaluating and refreshing our strategy to best serve our members and have decided this is not the right time to pursue a Sam’s Club in Rochester," she wrote.

Garcia could not expand on why Walmart decided to put the brakes on plans for a south Sam's store to complement its pair ofWalmart Supercenter stores on the north and south sides of the city, as well as a north Sam's Club warehouse.

The reversal does fit with a prediction from last spring by a Minnesota retail expert.

"It makes no sense at all," said David P. Brennan, a professor of marketing at St. Thomas University in St. Paul and co-director of the university's Institute for Retailing Excellence. "In regard to Rochester because of its size and relative ease of getting around, you don't need two stores to cover a market that size. It just doesn't make sense." 

Sam's Club has nine stores in the Twin Cities area and each does about $65 million to $75 million in business per year, according to Brennan. Costco has six stores in the metro region. Each of its stores move an estimated $120 million to $130 million of merchandise per year.