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477 posts categorized "Just for fun"

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.

May 22, 2015

Updated version of Hillary Nutcracker comes out for new campaign

An updated version of the famous (or infamous) Rochester invention, the Hillary Clinton Nutcracker, is hitting the streets this week as the presidential campaign heats up.

1-hillary-nutcracker-in-the-boxThe 9-inch-high nutcracker with "stainless steel thighs" originally was created and patented by Frank Freeman in the basement of his Rochester home in 2008.  He sold the functional device in his Little Bear Trading Post store in the Apache Mall as well as nationally.

While Freeman's company, Damn Handy Products, now is based in Arizona, he still distributes his products from Minnesota. He also is considering opening another store in the Apache Mall, if he can work out a "new concept."

"It'll be phenomenal," said Freeman of how he anticipates the nutcracker will sell with Clinton walking away with the Democrat nomination. "Last time, we sold well over a quarter of million units and she wasn't nearly as popular."

In 2008, it sold for $19.95. Now the tag is $29.95.

This version of the nutcracker features Clinton wearing a pink blazer with a campaign button that reads "Hillary 2016 -- It's Crunch Time." It's already on sale at The first shipments from China arrived in Minnesota this week to the company's fulfillment center. Freeman says they already have shipped out about 70 dozen orders to five stores and it will be featured on the cover of at least two national specialty catalogs.

Of course, many people find the product distasteful and insulting. When Urban Outfitters started selling the last of the 2008 nutcrackers for $60, it spurred many media sourc8-hillary-nutcracker-introes like the New York Post and Huffington Post to decry the site for selling a "sexist" product. posted a story that said the $60 price tag “seems like $54.05 too much for something you might find in a very, very sexist Happy Meal.”

Freeman and his partner, Gibson Carothers, say the nutcracker is not meant to be mean-spirited.

"It's up to you decide whether that is good or bad. The headline on the box is simply"It's Crunch Time, America!" We think it's all in good fun," said Carothers. "Of course, we expect cries of sexism from some feminists. But we expect, and are already starting to feel, a more balanced reaction this time around."

The pair say that women's opinions about the original nutcracker changed over time. In the end, they estimate that one-third of buyers were Hillary Clinton backers. They hope that sentiment will continue to grow this time around.

"They started to see that a nutcracker could be seen as a tough, fearless leader. Realistically,
is the country going to elect a woman not perceived as tough?" said Carothers.

"I think a lot of people feel that it is pro-Hillary. The humor on the box is slightly more pro-Hillary this time," said Freeman.

Political feelings aside, they say the bottom line is the nutcracker is supposed to be funny. It's in the same spirit as their Smash Mute TV remote product, which features a giant button that can be pounded to mute "politicians, talking heads and erectile dysfunction commercials." 

November 08, 2014

The fall of the Flamingo

It may be almost winter with snow in the forecast, but it is definitely "fall" time at Rochester's former Flamingo Bingo/Circus World/ Skateland building

11082014flamingodemo1Demo crews have been chewing away at the empty building at 2828 U.S. 52 North in the past week or two. With about half of the 42-year-old building already gone, it's definitely "game over" for the former entertaonment parlor.

The Twin Cities-based Luther Automotive Group owns the building and it launched demolition plans in October, though the company has no immediate plans for the property.

"I'm simply taking it down because I just don't want to carry the building through the winter. The roof is compromised," said Linda McGinty, Luther's director of real estate and development, last month. "We just don't have a use for it. When we do develop this site, that was a building that we weren't planning on reusing."

The car dealer bought the 42-year-old building for $950,000 back on Jan. 17. Luther also owns Park Place Motors, Rochester's BMW dealership. Since Park Place is nearby, Luther theoretically could use the ex-bingo property to expand Park Place or possibly to introduce a new dealership into the market.

Flamingo Bingo, which raises money for the Rochester Senior Center, moved out of the 2828 building in April and into the Elks Lodge 1091 at 1652 U.S. 52 North in the Hillcrest Shopping Center.

It had operated in that building since 2007. Prior to the creation of Flamingo Bingo, it was the home of Circus World Bingo, which raised funds for Rochester's Catholic schools.

May 08, 2014

Scheels construction springing along

05082014scheelsworkDuring the intermittent bouts of spring weather, construction crews working on Rochester's new Scheels All Sports mega-store are taking the ball and running.

05082014scheelssignWhile it looks like there's plenty of work yet to be done before it opens in April 2015, Apache Mall already has added the future new anchor to its marquee sign. Scheels is gutting/re-constructing the former Sears store.

The first construction pic is from this morning. The second one is from April 1 and third one is from March 19.01042014scheelsatapache

The planned 140,000-square foot store is expected to add between 120 to 180 new jobs to Rochester.

"It will still have a fudge and coffee bar and a mini bowling alley. It will carry fashion clothing and shoes for women and men as well as athletic clothing and shoes for men and women. Th19032014scheelsatapacheat's all in addition to our the entire hard line of sporting goods," said Scheels' Jason Loney.

The development for the expanded store also includes Apache Mall adding 9,000-square-foot restaurant site on the east side of the city water tower. 

There's no word yet on what restaurant might be planned for that site.

March 21, 2014

DMC origins stem from lunch chat six years ago

For the first part of two DMC sections, I chatted with Dr. Glenn Forbes, Bruce Fairchild, John Wade, Jeff Korsmo and Lisa Clarke about the evolution of the concept of the Destination Medical Center.

DMCMy article tracks the journey of the idea from a casual lunch conversation in March 2008 to DMC's appearance in the 2012 sales tax vote and the unveiling of the full concept in 2013.

Obviously, the idea of the City of Rochester and Mayo Clinic working from the playbook is not a novel idea in the Med City. Some at Mayo dismissed my use of this luncheon chat as a startng point. However, they weren't about to offer any better dates as begin DMC's genesis other than the formation of Mayo Clinic 250 years ago.

Unfortunately, the DMC section wasn't quite large enough to accomodate an article that tracked each milestone since 1889, so I just went with the March 2008 conversation.

Here's a little bit of what turned into a very lengthy article. Check out the rest in this weekend's DMC section.


Destination Medical Center is such a common topic in Rochester today that it's hard to keep in mind that the concept has only been known publicly for just over a year.

But the concept that grew into the $6 billion DMC initiative appears to have started with a chat at a Virginia conference center about six years ago.

Flag01-bdyjpgThat conversation was in March 2008 at Mayo Clinic's National Symposium on Health Care Reform at Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg, Va. The place was bustling with national leaders in the health care business. Representatives of the presidential candidates were there, promoting their health-care reform plans.

But not everyone at the conference worked directly in health care. Mayo Clinic flew out two local business leaders — John Wade, then-president of the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce, and Bruce Fairchild, then-regional director of Interstate Hotels in Rochester — as guests.

Since November 2007, Wade and Fairchild had been talking about developing a plan to bring the community and its largest employer into sync to serve more efficiently the thousands of people who stream into Rochester. While it wasn't a new idea, a move to formalize such a plan was gaining momentum. Amid the action at the symposium, the pair decided they should share their ideas with Mayo Clinic.

They asked to meet with Mayo Rochester CEO Dr. Glenn Forbes, without much expectation that he'd have time to meet.

"But true to form, Dr. Forbes took the time, and we had lunch together," Wade said in a recent interview. Forbes was Mayo Rochester CEO from 2006 to 2009, and "his very nature is to be collaborative," Wade said.

The three met in a restaurant at the Lansdowne conference center, and their lunch unexpectedly turned out to be a long one.

It started with the trio "blue sky, brainstorming ideas," said Fairchild, who now manages hotels in Texas. But the talk quickly picked up momentum.

"We were getting increasingly excited about the possibilities," said Forbes, who is now retired from Mayo Clinic. "The lunch went over several cups of coffee for about 2 1/2 hours."

March 19, 2014

Flamingos + Elks = Bingo

After months of waiting, a Rochester nonprofit finally has scored permission to move to a new home.

Flamingo Bingo, which raises money for the Rochester Senior Center, has been given the green light by the Minnesota Gambling Control Board to move into the Elks Lodge 1091 at 1652 U.S. 52 North in the Hillcrest Shopping Center.

FlamingobingoIt's moving out of its long-time leased home at 2828 U.S. 52 North, which was sold to Luther Automotive Group in January.

Deb Nusbaum, Flamingo Bingo's charitable gaming manager, says the bingo center will call its final game at its current site at 1 p.m. on March 30. Then, Nusbaum and her team of 16 employees will move the operation.

She plans to kick off the new round of games at the Elks Lodge on April 4. Work on the new Flamingo Bingo site is underway.

The Elks Lodge members are very positive about bringing Flamingo Bingo into its facility, according to the club president.

"It's multi-faceted for us," said Chris Holloway, when the plan first was announced in December. "We have an excess of space that we don't use on a daily basis. We're both charitable organizations. There's a lot of crossover in our clientele. Plus it brings in additional revenue."

ElkslodgeNow that the move is in motion, the question is what will happen to the 42-year-old building where Flamingo Bingo has been been based since it opened in 2007.

Twin Cities-based Luther Automotive bought the building for $950,000 on Jan. 17. Luther also owns the nearby Park Place Motors dealership on the same frontage road.

Luther's Linda McGinty said the company does not have a specific plan for the site yet.

McGinty, director of real estate and development at Luther Automotive Group, declined to discuss whether its possible plans could include an expansion of Park Place Motors or possibly bringing a new dealership into the market.

However, she did acknowledge that Luther will "probably eventually remove the building."

December 23, 2013

Ex-Hostess building sold for $720,000

Here's a real estate sale that has spurred my old cravings for Hostess SWonderbreadstoreno-Balls.

Don't judge me. I just can't resist those artifically colored, marshmallow skinned blobs of sweet, sweet calories. Heh.

Rochester's former Wonder Bread Hostess outlet store building at 406 37th St. N.E. for $720,000 on Dec. 18, according to county property records.

SnballsBuilt in 1990, the building has about 3,500-square-feet of retail space and an about 9,500-square-feet of warehouse space. It closed down, when Hostess imploded at the end of 2012.

I chatted with the new owner this morning and this sale opens the door for a regional business to expand into Rochester. This new name in town could eventually add up to about 10 to 15 new local jobs.

I'll have all of the details in the Heard on the Street column in Tuesday's Post-Bulletin. Just consider me Santa's little helper and the P-B as a present of information that can also be used as gift wrap.

In the meantime, I'd consider it a special gift if anyone out there can tell me if true Hostess Sno-Balls have ever returned to Rochester. If so, where can I find them?

November 21, 2013

Cowboy Jack's may win Western logo shoot-out

Western-themed restaurants and bars have been hot lately in Rochester.Texas-roadhouse1

We now have Texas Roadhouse, Wild Bill's Sports Saloon, Whiskey Creek Wood Fire Grill, Whiskey Bone's Roadhouse and the latest high plains drifter to ride into town is Cowboy Jack's Eatery. 

Cowboy Jack's is part of a Twin Cities chain and is slated to open soon within the former America's Best Value Hotel on South Broadway.

LEach has its own take on a rough and ready Western atmosphere.


However, going just by logos alone, it looks like the the latest addition to the Med City corral could be the toughest hombre ever seen in these parts.


• Texas Roadhouse has kind of 60's diner look with a cowboy hat wearing state. Eyecatching.

•  Wild Bill's invokes the whole tin star thing with sort of sheriff/ U.S. marshall/ ranger feel. That's a strong logo. 16418249_BG1

• Whiskey Creek goes with a flaming campfire design invoking cowboys around a fire after a day of driving cattle across the prairie.



• Whiskey Bones has an Elvis in a 50's diner thing going on, sort like the restaurant that John Travolta took Uma Thurman in "Pulp Fiction."


And then there's Cowboy Jack's.

• There's a skull of a Texas longhorn steer with

glowing red vengeful, demonic eye sockets and fangs. Very macho and a little spooky.

And then there's the crossed meat cleavers behind the skull that are actually DRIPPING BLOOD.


Uh... yeah... OK. That's an insanely intense logo.

That's the roughest, toughest logo of the crew. That logo paints Cowboy Jack's as the guy in the black hat who shoots first and then stands with one scuffed boot on the chest of his victim while he casually lights a cigarette.



























September 25, 2013

Spooky store gears up for the scary season

Travis Mueller wanted to know about this store, so I jumped up and checked it out for him. If it matters to Travis, it matters to me. Heh. Anyway, here's what I found out:

09252013spirithalloweenSpirit Halloween is opening its doors this evening in the former Best Buy South store in the Shoppes on Maine area.

The store was just putting the final touches on its front decoration at about 4:30 p.m. today. I was told that they'd be open by 5 p.m.

This seasonal retailer will sell masks, costumes, fake blood and everything other ghoulish thing needed to celebrate All Hallow's Eve through Oct. 31 (AKA Halloween).

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Med City, Halloween Express, is has moved into the former Amish Furniture store on Bandel Road.

August 09, 2013

Rochester's 'Dirty little secret'

DeparturesarticleSince today is the first official meeting of the newly established Destination Medical Center Corp., I was looking at some travel articles on Rochester and Mayo Clinic.

I stumbled across a "Special Report" by Departures magazine, which is an American Express publication.

It was written by Aimee Lee Ball for this year's March/April quarterly issue, so it is pretty up-to-date. What makes this notable is how the article characterizes the community and Mayo Clinic.

It actually starts with a Mayo Clinic doctor talking about how many people try to smuggle monkeys onto an airplane. "Monkeys on a Plane" would probably be a better movie than "Snakes on A Plane." Heh.

Anyway, here are a few excerpts:

There’s no Ritz-Carlton in Rochester, Minnesota—no Four Seasons or Mandarin Oriental or Peninsula, either—and the city’s idea of an Italian restaurant is the Olive Garden. This is the dirty little secret behind any visit to the Mayo Clinic: You’ll get world-class medical care, but it’s the badlands for eating or sleeping.

When asked about where to eat, one Mayo physician advised, “My house,” and shared the name of a well-stocked market three miles away.


800px-Gonda_building,_closer_upMayo has been an iconic (and ironic) name in health care for more than a century—a place surrounded by cornfields but considered the gold standard or the last-chance saloon by royalty (both actual and media-ordained).


Everyone at Mayo seems to have drunk the Kool-Aid, including the electrician who frets about the most convenient placing of outlets and the cleaning woman who declares that she saves lives (if she’s keeping the room free from infection, she’s right). “We’re not known as the heart place or the cancer place or the knee place,” says Dacy. “We do all those things, but we’re known for comprehensive care, and people work together in this collegial way. The customer service philosophy is powerful. We have a dress and decorum committee—you won’t see unshaven doctors in scruffy scrubs like on the TV shows, and the reason is to respect patients.” Monkey bites and all.