Doug Smith anticipates Avenue C, his new Cloquet restaurant, will open soon. The build-out was about 70 percent complete when it hit some financing snags that delayed the process. Work has now resumed and he estimates the establishment could be up and running by Christmas.
The new eatery will be housed at 207 Avenue C, Suite 110, in the First National Plaza Building. Originally built in 1919 for Weyerhaeuser, the building later became home to the First National Bank of Cloquet and then sat empty for a number of years before being restored with a new green HVAC system and reopened by Zach and Stephanie Wehr in 2009.
Extensive work was needed to outfit the space, which recently housed a paint and design store. A commercial kitchen, coolers, a tap system, bar and more had to be installed.
The restaurant in Cloquet’s historic West End district will seat 130 people. Customers can expect reasonable prices, from $8 to $17, and a moderately sized menu of about 50 items, including flatbreads, wings, sandwiches, gourmet burgers and shared appetizer plates to serve several people, such as a charcuterie board.
Smith says Avenue C’s motto is “have fun with your food.” He expects to serve about eight different entrees. Some will be classic dishes with a new spin, like chicken fettuccine served in large shells rather than with the traditional wide, long noodles.
One unusual offering Smith is excited to offer: authentic ramen soup. A far cry from the cheap, instant variety popular among college students, Avenue C’s ramen will feature rich broth and several savory sauces and toppings, like eggs, meat and vegetables.
The restaurant will work with the Cloquet-based food vendor, Upper Lakes Foods. Smith grew up in Cloquet and was once employed by Upper Lakes. He says he’s pleased to be able to source ingredients from a local company.
Smith has a long history in the local restaurant business. He helped start the Green Mill in Duluth more than 20 years ago and will continue to work as its general manager. Former Green Mill assistant manager Ryan Kolak was hired to manage Avenue C and Travis Smitke, who has worked at Timberlodge Steakhouse and Tavern on the Hill, will be the chef.
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