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2442 posts categorized "People tidbits"

April 17, 2014

Ex-bar will soon house memorial services

The former Mickey's Irish Saloon building is getting a very different tenant soon.

Rochester Cremation Services is re-working the former bar building at 1605 Civic Center Drive N.W.

04162014mickeysMike Johnson, who owns Rochester Cremation, hopes to be in his new site by end of the month. It's located in a high profile spot on Civic Center Drive, just west of the Hy-Vee grocery store in the Barlow Plaza.

"It's a big project," he said of transforming the saloon into a funeral home.

Funeral Director Johnson explained that his cremation business simply has outgrown its current location at 14 Sixth St. N.W. After a long search, he picked the Civic Center building as the best choice. Johnson is leasing the building, which is owned by Gary Mattison.

"We simply need to have a bigger building for memorial services. A lot of people today don't have their own church any more, so they turn to us," he said.

While there will be memorial services there, the cremation process will not take place in the Civic Center building — it will be done elsewhere.

Mickey Clark opened Mickey's Irish Saloon there in 2004. The bar, which was known for its large St. Patrick's Day party and for hosting boxing/mixed martial arts bouts, closed its doors in May 2013.

April 14, 2014

Bowling alley upgrade picking up and a new name

A rolling renovation of a long-time Rochester sports venue is picking up speed as well as a new name.
Bowlocity Logo Final-1
Construction has been underway for months to double the size of the bowling alley at 2810 N. Broadway. That expansion is adding much more than just more lanes. A new two-story laser tag arena, a large arcade, three party rooms are all coming soon along with a special eight-lane area with its own bar for private groups.

Gene Glorvigen and his son, Erin, say the more than 50-year-old business is shifting gears so the soon-to-be-completed entertainment center upgrade can keep up with today's fast-paced world.

All of these changes mean the old name, Recreation Lanes, doesn't fit with the updated center. That means commuters will see signs for Bowlocity (sounds like velocity) going up at the end of this month.

"Recreation Lanes has been a great name for us, but we wanted to have something that encompasses everything we are now," explains524fa3b840ece.image Erin Glorvigen. "I think it fits well."

And for the classic neon fans out there, don't worry about the big red sign featuring a bowling pin and the word "Bowl." That retro landmark will remain, though it's moving to the north side of the building.

While they are rolling out the new name now, it will be a little longer until all of the new features are online. Construction is on track for everything to launch by the end of May, according to Glorvigen.

Work on the colorful eight-lane party area is underway now. Specialists are coming soon to create the atmosphere for the laser tag tower. The 45 arcade games are expected to start arriving this week.

While the arcade will allow players to trade in points for prizes, it won't have two things most such arcades have.

"It's a token-less and ticket-less system. You just buy a card and use it to play the games. The card keeps track of your points and you use it to redeem them for prizes," says Glorvigen. 

April 10, 2014

Associated Bank working on new spots for Rochester branches

Associated Bank is planning to close its branch in the Hy-Vee North grocery  and then re-open it in a future northwest Rochester location.

Associateddrawing1The Green Bay, Wis. bank announced this week that it will close the grocery store branch at 500 37th St. N.W. at the end of July. Hy-Vee customers will then be served by Associated Bank's Rochester locations on South Broadway, First Avenue Southwest and 16th Street Southwest.

The five branch employees based at the Hy-Vee branch will work at Associated's three other Rochester branches until a new northwest facility "in the West Circle Drive corridor" is completed.

While bank officials wouldn't confirm the location of the to-be-constructed bank yet, Associated has submitted very early plans to the city to build a 3,683-square-foot branch in the 19th Street/West Circle Drive commercial development anchored by Costco.

Re-locating the northwest branch is not the only Rochester move coming up for the bank.

New owners have acquired Associated Bank's downtown building at 206 South Broadway and the bank needs to move out by spring 2015. There was speculation when the site development permit was filed for the West Circle Drive branch that it might serve as the new home for the downtown branch.

Not so, says the bank's spokesman. It's actively looking for a new location that will allow it to maintain its presence downtown.

“We are finalizing plans for an exciting new Associated Bank location in the West Circle Drive Corridor and continue to review opportunities for a new downtown bank location," stated Executive Vice President David Stein in this week's announcement.

Stein also commented that, "The greater Rochester area represents an important market for Associated Bank, and we are committed to serving our customers there with expanded operations and services."

Associated Bank entered the Rochester area in 2004, when it acquired First Federal Capital Bank. First Federal was short-lived here. It picked up the holdings of the long-time Marquette Bank in 2002.

April 09, 2014

Allegiant Air pulling out of Rochester… again

Allegiant Air announced Tuesday that it's pulling out of the Rochester International Airport and will end its weekly nonstop flights to Arizona on May 14.

Allegiant"We are always disappointed to end service in a market," said Eric Fletcher, Allegiant's manager of airports. "We thank the Rochester International Airport for their partnership and apologize to any travelers who are inconvenienced by this decision."

Allegiant began offering offering two weekly nonstop flights to Mesa, Ariz., in November 2012, with an eye to serving as a connection between Rochester and Mayo Clinic's Phoenix campus. The 166 seats flights travel on Thursday and Sunday.

A recent study of the airport activity from July 2012 to June 2013 found that Phoenix/Mesa was the top destination from the airport. Allegiant in Rochester had 15,580 passengers during those 12 months. That accounts for 7.4 percent of the passengers in this market. For the same period, Delta accounted 44.7 percent of the airport's passengers, and American had 41.6 percent.

That same study found that Allegiant tallied about $1.4 million revenue during those 12 months.

This marks the Las Vegas-based airline's second failed attempt to serve the Rochester market. From 2008 to 2010, it offered bargain nonstop flights to Las Vegas. During 2008, 27,854 passengers flew out of Rochester to Las Vegas on Allegiant. Those flights ended in 2010 because of lack of demand.

When Allegiant returned to Rochester with a focus on Arizona, there was no concern about demand with the built-in Mayo Clinic traffic plus vacation trips.

“We’ve had good luck returning to markets that we’ve previously pulled out of. We feel good about coming back to Rochester,” said Allegiant's Fletcher in 2008.

Rochester's airport has long worked at attracting and keeping airlines, although it's hindered by lower cost flights from Minneapolis.

In August 2012, the Rochester International Airport was awarded a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department Transportation to help attract airlines to provide direct flight service to more destinations. The Rochester City Council approved a local match of $225,000, for a total of $750,000.

The airport's application included a letter from Frontier Airlines, saying the Denver-based company would be interested in providing direct flights if Rochester could offer incentives. The airport has not added any new flights or airlines, since that grant was presented.

Mark Sixel, who did the recent study for the airport, concluded his report by saying Rochester has a large enough passenger market to support more flights. However, numbers alone may not be enough in this competitive environment.

"It is likely the Rochester International Airport will have to offer some some kind of risk mitigation program, including waivers, marketing and even ground handling to convince another airline to launch service," he wrote.

Most experts say the bottom line is that the airport likely will need to offer financial enticement of some sort to attract more service. After establishing the relationship, then the passenger numbers need to be there to keep the service.

April 08, 2014

Mayo Clinic's Nobel Prize work at heart of $5.6B drug deal

So Questcor Pharmaceuticals announced Monday that Ireland-based Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals is buying it for a whopping $5.6 BILLION.

A little research into Questcor shows that it has followed an interesting path starting with its $100,000 purchase of rights to H.P. Acthar Gel from Aventis in 2001. The FDA then approved labeling Acthar as "an orphan drug," which opened up the company's options for pricing Acthar.

The New York Times says the price per vial climbed from $40 to an incredible $28,000 within 10 years.

CortisoneA95D4FE2FBE5At the core of Questcor's story is one of Mayo Clinic's most famous research successes.

In 1948, Dr. Philip S. Hench and Dr. Edward C. Kendall were studying the effects of a hormone on inflammination related to rheumatoid arthritis. They had success with cortisone, but it was difficult to synthesize.

Hench then injected adrenocorticotropic hormone, or ACTH to cause the patient's body to produce their own cortisone and other steroid hormones. The ACTH came from pigs from Armour meatpacking.

In 1950, Hench and Kendall won the Nobel Pirze in medicine for their research. Unfortunately, they didn't patent it. The FDA approved H.P. Acthar Gel to treat a variety of diseases and conditions. It was then owned by the meatpacker Armour.

In recent years, Questcor has been criticized for its dramatic price hikes and for vauge allusions to "a secret sauce" in their drug that improves its effectiveness.

Some question if it is effective at all.

Mayo Clinic's Dr. Eric Matteson, the chairman of rheumatology, has been quoted about the use of Achtar in rheumatolgy.

• “Limited to no attractiveness in rheumatology”

• “Enthusiasm is low”

• "Very little if any role for an ACTH product in rheumotatic diseases, I don't see it."

April 07, 2014

New owner buys long-time Rochester plumbing supply firm

A Fargo, N.D. company is buying Woodruff Co., a 67-year-old Rochester plumbing and utilities wholesale supply firm.

WoodruffcoDakota Supply Group and the family-owned Woodruff have a purchase agreement and the sale is expected to close on April 30, according to Dakota CEO Todd Kumm. The deal includes Woodruff's Rochester complex at 1524 Third Ave. S.E. as well its Austin and Winona locations.

Dakota is a distributor of plumbing, electrical, HVAC, refrigeration, communications, filtration and metering systems. It has locations in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Montana

Co-owner John W. Woodruff said the main reason for the sale is that he's retiring, along with his brother and co-owner James W. Woodruff. They took over the company from their father, who co-founded it.

 "It's a good opportunity," he said.

The much-larger Dakota had previously approached the Woodruffs a few years ago, but the deal didn't come together back then.

"Now it's the right time to do it,"  said John Woodruff.

Dakota Supply Group Truck WrapOn the other side of the sale, Dakota agrees that the timing is right for this change.

"We believe a lot in the potential of Rochester and what's going to happen in the future," said Dakota's Kumm."This gives us a great physical location in a community that we feel is growing and expanding."

The company already has locations in La Crosse, Wis. and St. Paul, so this acquisition will fill in the area in between. Dakota, which has about 650 employees, is very familiar with Rochester, has previously sold metering systems to the city.

WoodlogocOne concern the brothers had was to make sure the deal would be good for their more than 20 employees. DSG's reputation as a good company  made it attractive. It's also owned by its employees through a stock ownership plan.

"We think that will be a benefit for the employees," he said.

Woodruff was founded by 1946 by James F. Woodruff, John D. Flowell and Frank C. Weber. The Woodruff family has long been very active in the community with involvement with Lourdes Catholic schools, Rotary Club and the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce.

It built and moved into its current facility on Third Avenue in April 1964.

April 03, 2014

Homewood Suites shaping up in 2nd Street

04032014homewoodsuitesCheck out Rochester's new 111-room, seven-story Homewood Suites by Hilton hotel going up on the 1300 block of Second Street Southwest.

It looks like this project must be starting to near the final few laps of the race to completion.

Rochester developer Marc Carpenter and Torgerson Properties, of Willmar, are building the extended-stay hotel brand next to their Courtyard by Marriot hotel. 6a00d83451cc8269e2016768f3c66c970b-800wi

Including the SpringHill Suites, this is the company's third hotel within in the shadow of the nearby Saint Marys Hospital.

In 2012, the project was described as completing Carpenter's vision for Second Street. Two old houses between the Courtyard hotel and McDonald's were torn down in 2010 as a preamble.

Does Mayo Clinic have plans for Shoppes on Maine?

Mayo Clinic seems to be looking to south Rochester for a future project, even though there's no official word yet.

Tom Hexum, of Maine Street Development Co. of Rochester, filed a Land Development Application on March 11 for a 22,000-square-foot "commercial building with parking" at the corner of Canal Place Southeast and Maine Avenue Southeast. That puts the building near Fat Willy's Bar and Grill and across Maine Avenue from the commercial center anchored by Lowe's.

Mayo buildingThe proposed building would be situated on two acres and have 109 parking spaces. Plans call for a half circle drive in front for loading and unloading at the building's entrance, which would be covered with an 880-square-foot canopy.

Hexum and Maine Street have been the local driving force behind development in the Shoppes on Maine area from its start. Most of their previous projects had future tenants identified before any construction began. But this new development application doesn't name any tenant.

However, Mayo Clinic enters the picture when the application was studied by city staff. The Department of Planning and Zoning and the Department of Public Works describe the building as the "proposed Mayo Clinic facility" in letters on May 14 and May 24. Those letters denied the application until a variety of site-related issues are addressed.

Despite being named by city officials, Mayo Clinic would neither confirm nor deny any specific plans in the Shoppes on Maine area.

"We are exploring options to improve our ability to improve access to community care for our employees and those who depend on us for these services," said Rebecca Eisenman, of Mayo Clinic's Communications Dept. "Future options may include expansion of facilities and services in southeast Minnesota, but no specific details are available at this time."

While the first application for this building was denied, it seems likely that Rochester design firm Yaggy Colby will be able to address the issues and get the development approved.

We'll just need to watch how it plays out and listen to what Mayo Clinic has to say about it.

April 02, 2014

North Roch. Pizza Hut getting a makeover

Rochester's Pizza Hut restaurant along U.S. 52 North is getting a full makeover.

01042014pizzahutworkThe Pizza Hut at 2001 U.S. 52 North Frontage Road currently is closed while construction crews revamp the 28-year-old brick restaurant. It sits between McDonald's and Motel 6.

San Antonio, Texas-based Muy Brands is driving the upgrade of the Pizza Hut. Muy, one of the largest Pizza Hut franchisees in the U.S., bought the restaurant in January for $986,733.

There's no official timeline for when the work will be complete, but it looks to be progressing fast enough that the restaurant could re-open by late spring or early summer. Building permits dating back to December estimate the value of the project at $168,000.

The Pizza Hut is not the only restaurant in that neighborhood with changes cooking.

Construction o01042014mcdonaldssitef a new McDonald's restaurant will soon begin by Costco, off 19th Street Northwest. Once the new restaurant is complete, the McDonald's next to Pizza Hut will shift to the new restaurant and the old store will close. Until then, it will remain open.

New Roch. Menards to open April 8

Rochester's new northside Menards store will open its doors at 6:30 a.m. April 8.

The newly completed $12 million store near the intersection of U.S. 52 and 65th Street Northwest will replace its old store at 5150 U.S. 52 North. That store is prepared to shift to close-out mode and will remain open for a while after the 65th Street store opens.

Menards also has a south Rochester store at 3000 S. Broadway.

The new 90,000-square-foot store is on 35 acres, with an additional 40 acres available for development by other businesses. Planned for years, the project wMenards-Logoas delayed while waiting for a proposed U.S. 52 interchange at 65th Street Northwest to be built. The interchange recently was constructed with funding from a portion of the local-option sales tax revenue.

“We appreciate all the loyal customers who continued to shop at Menards through the years and
look forward to opening this new store," store manager Eric Ritter said in a company announcement. "Everyone has been working really hard for weeks in preparation of opening the doors to better serve the community with all the latest, greatest home improvement products.”

The new store includes a full-service lumber yard, a garden center, appliances, pet supplies and convenience grocery items. An official grand opening for the new store will be scheduled for a later date.

Eau Claire, Wis.-based Menards operates 286 home improvement stores in 14 Midwestern states.

Once the existing Menards facility at 5150 U.S. 52 North closes, two Rochester retailers plan to upgrade the building and move their businesses into it. Jim Sather and Mark Byer, who own the Furniture Superstore Factory Outlet and America's Mattress stores, hope to move forward with that project as soon as possible.