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13 posts categorized "Random nostalgia"

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."

November 22, 2013

Don't dunk your donuts before they're glazed

Two words have been floating around downtown Rochester for weeks like crumbs in a cup of coffee.
Dunkindonuts-donuts
Dunkin' Donuts.

Locals, including one self-described "humongous" Rochester fan (Yes, I'm looking at you Courtney. Heh) who will only use highway  exits in Wisconsin that lead to a DD, have been wondering if all of this Dunkin' talk is just a cream-filled fantasy or could a shop be on its way to the Med City.

The short answer is … it's possible.

The slightly longer answer is that it doesn't seem very likely in the near future, but it could happen.

Dunkin' Donuts rolled out of Minnesota a while back. The final shop in the state, which was surprisingly based in Austin, frosted its last long john in 2005.

Since then, the Dunkin' Donuts tally in the Land of 10,000 Lakes has been zero. In 2008 and 2009, the popular chain talked about a big return to Minnesota, but that all turned out to be false alarms.

However, the Canton, Mass.-based chain currently is recruiting franchisees in Minnesota. And the recruiting is reaching beyond the Twin Cities.

The coffee and baked good chain has about 10,000 stores worldwide, including about 7,000 franchised restaurants in 36 states.

When asked directly if the orange-and-pink logo might be on the way to Rochester, company officials stated that no plans are in the works. They declined to say if they're negotiating for a possible franchise here.

Olmsted County is only one of 85 Minnesota counties with an available Dunkin' franchise. Winona and Houston counties are already reserved for franchises. St. Louis County is only one marked as the site of a "future" Dunkin' Donuts location, according to the company's website.

Franchise information lists that the "preferred" building is 1,200 to 2,600 square feet, has a drive-through window and can be open 24-hours a day. Potential franchisees need to have a minimum of $250,000 in "liquid capital" and $50,000 net worth per location. The company prefers each franchisee be responsible for multiple locations.

The bottom line is that it doesn't look hopeful for Dunkin' Donuts opening soon in Rochester, but it could eventually happen.

April 26, 2013

With weather warming, hot dog man to return to downtown

It feels as if the weather finally has taken a turn for the better and maybe, just maybe, the dogs of winter are leashed again for at least a few months.

That means it's time to start relishing the spring days in the Med City again.

6a00d83451cc8269e2017c328b3ea7970b-250wiAnd what better way to do that than with downtown Rochester's gem, Murph's Diamond Dogs. On Monday, Rick Murphy plans to roll out his cart and start serving hot dogs for the hungry packs hunting for a quick and tasty lunch.

Look for the genial Murphy with his ball cap and stainless steel cart at his usual spot in the Peace Plaza by O & B Shoes.

The Pine Island man and his cart have added flavor to downtown for eight years.

That means he has been around downtown longer than the University of Minnesota-Rochester, Sontes, Chester's, the Minnesota BioBusiness Center, 300 First, Social Ice, 318 Commons, Big Brad's, Hot Shots! and lots of other changes.

He was already selling dogs when people started saying "Rah-Rah" about Rochester.He was downtown long before it became "The Place To Be." He was here when DMC was just part of the name of an '80s rap group.

Quite simply, downtown is Murph's turf.

With sun shining and people buzzing around the plaza, it'll be good to have him back where he belongs.

October 05, 2012

Glimpse of the past as Broadway biz gets facelift

Downtown Broadway caught a brief glimpse of Rochester's past as a long-time business started working on a new, updated look this week. Construction crews started working on the facade of Kathy’s Pub at 307 S. Broadway Thursday. As the green Kathy's awning was taken down, they uncovered the old Hollywood Bar neon sign.

The Hollywood was one of Rochester's most venerable nightspots going back at least to the 1940s. It was known for its 90-foot-long bar that was staffed by an "all-girl" crew. Offering live music six nights a week, it was the home venue for the local music legends, the Parrish Brothers band.

It later became Kathy's Pub with Kathy and Gus Chafos as the owners. Matt Murphy and Matt Teal bought it in 2003, but kept the Kathy's name.

10042012kathyspubhollywoodbarjkMurphy says the classic Hollywood sign that dates back to Rochester's "Mad Men" days has been put into storage for the winter, while it is decided what to ultimately do with it.

Meanwhile, the entire front facade of Kathy's is getting a face-lift from the sidewalk all the way up to parapets by the rooftop patio.

"We're going to restore it back to the old look," says Murphy. "The bricks will get cleaned. It'll get fresh paint. They are restoring the parapets. And a new, updated awning is coming."

The hope is to finish the renovation work within about a month. A facade improvement grant from the Rochester Downtown Alliance is paying for half of the $30,000 project.

A new neon glow is in the works to light up Kathy's sometime next year. Murphy says Schad Tracy Signs is working on a new design that will look similar one at The Griffin Cocktail Lounge in Las Vegas. Look for that project to come to light in the spring.

August 28, 2012

Mercedes shifting into high gear to build Med City dealership

I popped out to the groundbreaking at the new Mercedes-Benz car dealership Monday morning. They have done an amazing amount of work in less than a week out there. The dirt is really flying.

GregorWhile out there, I had a flashback to September, 2006 when I went to another groundbreaking for a car dealership out there at the Shoppes on Maine area. That was before Target, before Lowe's, before Wherenberg and before my mustace went gray.

That groundbreaking was for the Rochester Toyota dealership owned by Rob Gregory.

Coming back to the present, here's some on the Merecedes groundbreaking:

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

Construction of a new Mercedes-Benz car dealership is shifting into high gear in south Rochester as it drives toward a goal of opening sometime in March.

The Ballweg Family of Dealerships is moving its Mercedes dealership from Wausau, Wis., to a spot at Shoppes on Maine near Target South and Rochester Toyota.

08272012mercedesgroundbreaking1Officials from Ballweg and Mercedes were at the site Monday for a ceremonial groundbreaking as big machinery roared by moving dirt in the background.

Ballweg CEO Jason Brickl says the project is moving forward quickly because of interest in Mercedes in Rochester.

"They did a market study and Rochester looked incredibly appealing," he says.

Jack Holt, Mercedes' franchise manager for the central region, said the company's research found that this location looks very promising.

"We think Rochester is the right place to be and we think we have the right partner in Ballweg," he says. "We think this will be great."
08272012mercedessiteAlready, area customers have been calling to inquire when the dealership will open.

"We've never had that kind of interest this early in a project before," he says.

Rochester has been without a new Mercedes dealership since about 1998.

Brickl expects to hire between 20 to 25 employees to staff the 21,000-square-foot dealership. It will have nine service bays. He has already brought in a general manager to run the Rochester operation.

Beyond Mercedes' well known line of vehicles, this dealership will also offer its smart brand of mini and micro cars and its line of Sprinter commercial vans.

Once open, Ballweg's Rochester dealership will keep between 100 to 150 new and used vehicles on display.

August 23, 2012

Family's news stand wrapping up 57 years at Mayo Clinic

Here's some from my piece on the Subway News Stand and its 57 years at Mayo Clinic. There are so many good stories from these guys that it was a struggle to know when to stop writing.

One memory that didn't get in was Ben Kaplan picking up the daily horse racing newspaper from the Rochester 400 train every morning. Local legend said it took 400 minutes to get from Chicago to Rochester.

During the winter, sometimes the bundles of publications would get frozen to the train car and an ax would be needed to get them out.

There were five guys always waiting in the Kahler Hotel to buy those racing sheets, he said, but he declined to name them.

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

It used to be common to see almost everyone in Mayo Clinic's many waiting areas, patient rooms and staff cafeterias reading a handy magazine, newspaper or paperback book.

For the past 57 years, much of that printed paper flowed from the Kaplan family's Subway News Stand in downtown Rochester. However, times and reading choices change.

"Today you don't see that. Now they all have an iPad, Blackberry or Blueberry or whatever. You know, all of that electronic stuff," says 84-year-old Ben Kaplan, who started the news stand with his brothers.

Get_photoOn Aug. 31, the long story of the close partnership between the Kaplans and Mayo Clinic will reach its end. The fifth and final version of the family's news stand will ring up its last sale.

Declining sales, changes in the industry and rising prices convinced Steve Kaplan and his uncle Ben that it was time to close up shop at the end of their 10-year lease.

The Subway News Stand is tucked inside the Mayo Clinic Gift Shop at the heart of the Gonda Building on the downtown campus. There's no word yet what Mayo Clinic has planned for the space.

"We've enjoyed serving patients and employees. We've made a lot of friends over the years," says Steve Kaplan, as he sits surrounded by postcards, newspapers and magazines. "The people are what we'll miss the most."

While talking about the past, a shopper with a magazine under his arm paused on his way out to tell Steve that he had spent a lot of time in shop during the past four years. "I'm really sorry to see you go."

Kaplan, who started helping his father and uncles when he was just seven, has been a familiar face in the Gonda Building since it opened 10 years ago.

It all started back in 1947. That's when three Kaplan brothers — Milton, Hyman and Ben — purchased a wholesale distribution business called the Rochester News Agency. It sold papers, magazines, books and more to city news stands.

The business quickly grew, and they bought a sibling firm in Wisco800px-Gonda_building,_closer_upnsin, the La Crosse News Agency. When the Mayo Building was constructed, Milt Kaplan met with Mayo official Bill Harwick about opening a news stand in the new building.

"He said, 'We'd been thinking about it. … Send me a letter, and I'll put it in my file," remembers Milt Kaplan, who now lives in Milwaukee. "They hadn't started the building yet. About nine months later, he called me to meet with the architect."

Just like the Gonda did 47 years later, the new Mayo Building opened in 1955 with a Kaplan news stand leasing space in its subway. Most magazines, like Readers Digest, cost just a quarter. Cigarettes were two packs for 25 cents.

April 12, 2012

Home Design Studio goes dark

While it has been for sale for a while, it looks like the once-red-hot Home DesgnStudio showroom building along West Circle Drive in Northwest Rochester is now completely cold and dark.

04112012homedesignstudio1Staff of the Studio plus Home Improvement Professionals and the Olmsted County Lumber Mart moved out on Friday and shifted their offices to the remaining space they have in Byron.

I'll have more details soon, but this move has gotten me remembering the golden days in the fall of 2006 when this massive, multi-level 32,000-square-foot showroom opened its doors and flipped on the hundreds of fancy light fixtures made the complex glow like a spaceship at night.

Homedesign studio August 15Pictures from Business After Hours and Builders events held there in 2006 and in 2007 during that time show a big shiny place bustling with smiling people. Most of the folks I can indentify have long Homedesignicesince made forced career changes, lost jobs, had businesses go under and have faced a variety of other difficulties.

That was also the same time that Rochester Market Square, another home construction mall, also opened on t Homedesignstudio2in2006he south side of the Med City. That has since retracted quite a bit and its developers finally sold it to an out-of-state corporation.

Homesdesignbah1in2006
It is quite simply a bygone era.
I realize how much better Rochester has fared than most during these turbulent times. However, it is my impression that most of the survivors from those days have a lot more scars today than they had then.

Moving beyond maudlin memories, I am wondering what kind of business might buy this cavernous place and what could it be used for. It is fantastic rambling showroom.

But not many businesses go that big anymore. Maybe a furniture store or an Aquarius-style dance club?

We'll see, I guess.

December 29, 2011

Kiger's back and the blog is breathing again

I apologize to you all for abandoning this blog for so long.

I took a vacation and was pretty tied up even before I left. The result was that Kiger's Notebook was left barren for the longest stretch, since I launched it in March, 2005.

I couldn't stay away completely, so I did pop back in to do the CostCo piece and a few columns here and there.

RedjeffMost of my time away was spent on the banks of The Wabash in Indiana. A place Verizon as well as the rest technological world evidently do not know exisits. While I did zip out a few Tweets and email responses when the moon was in the right place, I was mostly out of the loop.

I apologize to everyone who sent me emails, voice messages, Facebook notes and direct messages on Twitter. I'll try to catch up. More than a 1,000 unread emails have piled up.

Anyway, I'm back now and revved up for the new year.

Please keep letting me know what you are interested in and passing along any business tips you might hear.

Look for lots of action on here in as 2012 kicks into gear and thank you for reading.

September 26, 2011

Beloved Roch. restaurant team to return

In case you missed it in the Biz Buzz parrt of my weekend column, a return to life is cooking for a much-mourned Rochester restaurant:


Logo_redwoodroom(7542)_300X200 The cries of disappointment and lamentation rang throughout Rochester when the doors closed.

It seems they did not go unheard by the powers that be.

The word on the street is that a comeback of one of the Med City's favorite little romantic restaurant is starting to heat up

Stay tuned for the return of... The Redwood Room.

January 05, 2011

Keeping Roch. rolling for 60 years...so far

On Jan. 3, 1951, Sterling Mestad began selling Ford cars in downtownFord_victoria1951 Rochester.

 That's the same year that car makers rolled out the automatic transmission as an option.

While he is no longer downtown, Sterling is still at 60 years later with no plans to retire any time soon.

I sat down and visited with Sterling at Rochester Ford on Monday, his 60th anniversary.

Look for my piece I wrote from that chat in the Post-Bulletin sometime this week.

And if you are wondering, his first Ford was a new 1951 Victoria hardtop. He bought it for $2,200.