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January 02, 2015

Green Mill restaurant closes

About 40 people lost their jobs unexpectedly on New Year's Day when Rochester's Green Mill Restaurant closed after eight years of cooking on the northwest side.

02012015greenmillclosedThe staff reportedly was not given any notice of the closing until company executives showed up on Thursday. They posted letters on the restaurant's doors stating,"It saddens us to inform you that the Rochester Green Mill will be closing its doors January 1."

Calls to Paul Dzubnar, CEO of the St. Paul-based Green Mill, were not returned this morning.

Dzubnar personally owned the Rochester franchise under the corporate name of G M P Rochester LLC. Citing long interest from Rochester diners to have a Green Mill of their own, he built the 6,800-square-foot restaurant at 2723 Commerce Dr. N.W. in 2006. 

"It finally came together," said Dzubner, who was then a vice president of Green Mill.

The Rochester location seated 240 people and employed more than 100 staffers when it opened. It was built in a commercial development that was spearheaded by Merl and Dan Groteboer.

After the closing, Green Mill now has 27 locations in the Minnesota and Wisconsin region. The closest to Rochester is in Winona.

In 2011, Dzubnar launched a second line of restaurants called Crooked Pint Ale House. There now are locations in Apple Valley and Minneapolis. Twin Cities media has reported that deals to open more Crooked Pints in and outside of Minnesota are in the works.

December 30, 2014

Strip mall with Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe sold

A 68-year-old commercial center in northwest Rochester recently sold for $765,000.

The strip mall at 902 Seventh St. N.W., anchored by Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe, was purchased by Song H. Hong on Dec. 1. HonYeoldebuildingg also owns Safechoice Insurance Agency, which is based in the center.

Other tenants in the Seventh Street plaza include Catering By Design and Jakobson Management Co. The brick-and-concrete center was built in 1946, according to Olmsted County property records.

Hong bought the building from HRB LLC, which state records list as being based at 1830 Second St. S.E. HRB purchased it back in 2001 from RC Properties of St. Paul for $900,000, according to county records.

December 23, 2014

Re/Max Results building sells for $1.1 million

As a real-estate firm builds a new home in Rochester, its current location was recently sold.

The Rochester office building at 4600 18th Avenue N.W., where Re/Max Results has its local headquarters, was purchased for $1.1 million on Nov. 24. Local developer John Klopp's High Springs Inc. bought the 24-year-old building from Northwest Executive Properties of Rochester.

Remax exteriorRe/Max Results, an Eden Prairie, Minn.-based business with about 68 Rochester Realtors, recently started construction of a new office building on West Circle Drive Northwest.

The planned two-story, 18,000-square-foot office complex, at 4123 26th St. N.W., is expected to be completed in August or September. Re/Max Results will remain in its current office until the new building is ready.

"We're doing extraordinarily well in Rochester," said Lynn Foulke, CEO of Re/Max Results.

Re/Max has occupied the the 18th Avenue office since 1990. It was Re/Max of Rochester for most of the time, but Re/Max Results purchased the business, along with Re/Max Realty Source of Austin, from Duane Sauke in February 2012.

Sauke had been the sole owner of the Rochester RE/MAX since 2006, when he bought out five other partners: Frank Armstrong, Jim Conway, Lee Taplin, Paul Norrie and Bill King. He owned the Austin operation for about two and a half years.

Re/Max Results, owned by John Collopy, operates in Minnesota and Wisconsin with more than 800 Realtors. The firm describes itself as the16th largest brokerage in the United States.

December 22, 2014

Iowa bank to open 2nd Rochester branch

Manufacturers Bank & Trust Co. is hoping to open a second branch in Rochester in early 2015.

The Forest City, Iowa-based bank first opened a location here at 2020 Second St. S.W. in 2012. Now MBT has outgrown that 2,000-square-foot space.

927db1376e1345f697086bcd204afe4d-1MBT is a full-service bank with particular expertise in agriculture and business loans.

Pending regulatory approval, MBT has lined up the former America's Mattress building at 4408 U.S. 52 N.W. to serve as a second branch, said Tom Heepke, the bank's community president. He says it is time to expand in this market.

"We've grown the business enough now to warrant a second location," he said.

Plus the Second Street location is becoming crowded with five on staff. If the second branch is approved as expected, MBT plans to add more staff and transfer current staffer Andy Mai to manage it, according to Heepke.

Bank regulators expect to rule on the branch by the end of January. If everything goes as planned, MBT could open in the new location by early February.

MBT will lease the 2,800-square-foot building at 4408 U.S. 52 N.W. from Rochester developer Jeff Brown. Mike Haley of Braasch Commercial Real Estate handled the deal.

America's Mattress moved out of the building earlier this year to join Furniture Superstore Factory Outlet in the former Menards store at 5150 U.S. 52 North. – Jeff Kiger

December 18, 2014

Mayo, former exec settle lawsuit

Mayo Clinic has withdrawn its trade secret lawsuit against Dr. Franklin R. Cockerill III, the former CEO of Mayo Medical Labs, as part of a settlement agreement.

The settlement was reached Wednesday, and Mayo Clinic withdrew "with prejudice," meaning it cannot pursue the matter again.

5480ab685c6ed.imageCockerill denied any wrongdoing in the settlement, as he has since the case began in October.

“Although preserving his integrity and professional reputation is of great importance to Dr. Cockerill,” said Nancy Vollertsen, one of Cockerill’s attorneys at Lindquist and Vennum, "the distraction and expense of further litigation became too burdensome for Dr. Cockerill and his family.”

Bryan Anderson of Mayo Clinic also issued a statement about the settlement this morning.

"Mayo Clinic did not take this action lightly. However, we firmly believe that legal action was necessary to protect our confidential and trade secret information against improper disclosure," the statement says.

As part of the settlement, Cockerill agreed not to work or consult for Mayo’s largest competitors for two years. He also agreed to return all information he took from Mayo Clinic and pay a portion of Mayo Clinic's legal expenses.

In October, Mayo Clinic filed suit against Cockerill, of Rochester, alleging misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of contract. The suit alleged Cockerill covertly accepted a job in June with Quest Diagnostics, a major competitor of Mayo Medical Labs. He had told Mayo Clinic he was retiring at the end of September to help his 85-year-old mother run her fertilizer business in Nebraska. On Oct. 1, he took the position of vice president and chief laboratory officer at Quest.

Mayo Clinic soon filed the lawsuit, alleging Cockerill had misrepresented his departure and had left with clinic-owned memory sticks with data downloaded from his work station. A restraining order was granted that prevented him from working at Quest. The order claimed he could cause "irreparable harm" to Mayo Clinic by working there.

Earlier this month, Cockerill officially resigned from Quest. He had worked for the New Jersey-based multibillion dollar company only from Oct. 1 to Oct. 14.

In a statement from his lawyers following the settlement, Cockerill said he "maintains that he was a loyal Mayo employee throughout his employment and had no intention of harming Mayo, where he had worked for over 30 years and which employs several members of his family. He was dismayed that Mayo did not offer him the opportunity to explain his actions but instead summarily sued him for presumptive misuse of confidential information, forcing him to expend considerable resources to defend his integrity and professional reputation.”

Mayo Clinic defended taking the unusual step of filing a very public lawsuit.

"We understand that our staff members move to other organizations, and, when they do so in a transparent manner, we can cooperatively manage any conflicts-of-interest during their transition, and we can protect our confidential and trade secret information,” it said in a statement.

December 16, 2014

Mannino leaving Home Federal

After 14 years as the face of Rochester's Home Federal Savings Bank, Al Mannino is leaving to try something new.

Mannino, the well-known vice president of communications for the bank, is stepping down at the end of December to try his hand at business consulting.
Get_photo-1
"I've decided to leave the bank while I've still got enough energy to do something else," he said. "The bank and I are on great terms. I'm just looking for something more fun and challenging for the next segment of my career."

The 65-year-old Mannino joined Home Federal in 2000. He originally moved to the area to help with the launch of Stewartville-based Rochester Medical, which makes catheters. Prior to that, he had been working with a medical company in the Twin Cities.

"I was an executive in the health-care industry for many years with companies that made implantable medical devices and medical supplies," said Mannino. "Now it's time to try something new."

December 15, 2014

Longtime used book store sells to new owner

The cover and title will remain the same, but the "author" of a local used book shop is changing in the start of 2015.

Erik Olson is taking over the 34-year-old Paperback Book Palace from longtime owner Karen Meyer, who is retiring. The shop is in the Cedarwood Plaza, 4106 18th Ave. N.W.

Store"I see nothing but potential," said Olson, who has been a customer of the shop since it opened in 1980.

While he intends to expand the shop's online presence, Olson has no big changes planned for the business. The store exchanges used paperbacks for in-store credits of 21 percent of the book's original price. Credit slips are good for a year. Those books then go on the shelves priced at 53 percent of the original price.

"She has a very loyal customer base," he said. "This time of year, we're getting a lot of snowbirds coming in to stock up on books for the winter."

Olson says the Paperback Book Palace has about 25,000 books on its shelves in the 800-square-foot shop.

"It's a pretty cozy environment," he said.

Meyer's two part-time employees are staying on with the store. The main change for customers will be that Olson will replace Meyer as the primary face of the store.

He notes that though it has moved three times since opening, the Paperback Book Palace has long been a mainstay of the Rochester business scene.

"With all of the closings lately, I think it's nice to see something stick around," Olson said.

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.

--------------

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 09, 2014

Work on 2nd Aldi store really rolling along

Workers braved the chilly weather today to start putting up the big sign for the new Aldi grocery in northwest Rochester.

09122014aldistoreThe 17,000-square-foot store has went up quickly by McDonalds and Costco.

Aldi officials from their Faribault division have previously said they expect to open by April. That estimate was calculated on breaking ground by the end of 2014.

I'd say work is running quite a bit ahead of that schedule.

Aldi is also renovating its exisiting Rochester store at the Crossroads Shopping Center.

December 08, 2014

Ex-Hardee's/Indian eatery flattened

The former Hardee's/Indian restaurant at 7 12 St. S 08122014exhardees2.E., that's at Rochester's corner of U.S. 14 and South U.S. 63, is being scraped away today.

No sure yet what the plans, if any, are for the site.

That 31-year-old business was where one of Rochester's Hardee's fast food places operated. In Dec. 2001, that restaurant and two more in Rochester plus one in Stewartville abruptly closed their doors.

The franchise owner went bankrupt in 2000 and DORO InHardeesc. of Eau Claire, Wis. was named as reciever. Eventually, they had to close the doors.

It was later used as Natraj's India Kitchen/ C08122014exhardees1uisine of India for a few years.

It has sat empty and moldered for quite a while since the Indian eatery moved out.

Now the site is cleared for a new future, whatever that may be.

Hopefully, that will include better access.