A popular Lincoln Park restaurant group is adding another bar and grill to its neighborhood food empire.
Duluth Grill Family of Restaurants co-owner Tom Hanson said this week his organization has secured a 10-year lease on the longtime home of Mitch’s Bar and Grill, 2113 W. Superior St. The site was most recently home to the short-lived Coach’s Bar & Grill.
Hanson said the new space will be called Burger Paradox and will specialize in high-quality, affordable hamburgers and local craft beers. A May opening is planned.
“Basically everything on our menu will be about $10,” he said. “It’s just going to be kind of a down-home burger joint.”
In addition to traditional burgers, the restaurant will feature hand-cut fries, hand-breaded onion rings, mozzarella cheese sticks, deep-fried Brussels sprout and a vegan option called the “Beyond Beef Burger.” The new restaurant will seat 70.
The Duluth Grill Family of Restaurants also owns and operates Duluth Grill on 27th Avenue West and the OMC Smokehouse and Corktown Deli and Brews, both currently located in the 1900 block of West Superior Street. Corktown Deli and Brews is relocating to 27th Avenue West this spring.
Hanson said he was not looking to add another restaurant to Duluth Grill operations but the building has a new owner, a new kitchen and a good location between Lincoln Park craft breweries and cider houses. He said a pandemic slowdown is wearing off and his team was eager to take on another project.
“I think the pandemic caused a stall and everybody was a little bit afraid to do anything but it’s kind of distancing itself now and everyone is getting a little more out there,” he said. “Our guys are back, our staffing is back so we’re seeing a lot of reasons why we could do it.”
A long-term lease with new property owners also helped seal the deal, he said.
The former bar and grill and its adjacent parking lot was purchased earlier this month by P & R Companies, owners of the new Lincoln Park Flats apartment building across Superior Street. St. Louis County records show former Duluth East basketball coach Bob Kunze owned the property since 2010.
P & R Companies Chief Operations Officer Dante Tomassoni said the property was acquired to address the Lincoln Park Flats parking situation. New Duluth parking rules and few on-street spaces have led to a tenant parking crunch. The empty lot adjacent to the building — abutting the former Salvation Army store and site of the long-gone Star Theatre — has approximately 20 parking spaces that will be shared with the restaurant.
Tomassoni said a new commercial kitchen was installed following a 2021 fire when the site was being operated as Spoon’s Bar and Grill. He said the building was structurally sound and fully operational so P & R Companies wanted to see it continue as a new neighborhood restaurant.
“We thought: Who better to breathe some new life into the place than Tom Hanson and his group,” said Tomassoni. “They’ve done some brilliant things in the Lincoln Park area and have been a big reason for the growth in that area.”
“It’s great for their group. They’ll have 100 customers living across the street that get hungry,” he said.
The building at 2113 W. Superior Street has connections to some colorful Duluth restaurant lore.
Nick Patronas, who operated the former Duluth restaurant chain Mr. Nick’s Famous Charburger, said his grandfather started a Coney Island hot-dog shop at the address sometime in the late 1930s or early ’40s. Shortly after opening, the family took a three-month vacation back to their Greek homeland but World War II delayed a return for seven years.
During the seven-year absence, the man who was operating the hot-dog shop turned it into a bar and restaurant called Anton’s.
“My grandfather was so upset he went exactly across the street and opened another Coney Island,” said Patronas. “Six months later he died and my father took it over at age 16.”
The place was called Nick’s Hamburger Shop and Coney Island. Over the decades the family grew the business to include five locations across the Twin Ports including Nick’s Burger King — Minnesota’s first year-round drive-in — located at 2202 W. Superior St. A Mr. Nick’s Famous Charburger was located at 220 W. Superior St. in Downtown Duluth from 1970 to 1996.
The original Nick’s Hamburger Shop and Coney Island closed in the early 1970s. The building was razed and its remains were dumped in a hole on the property.
“It’s kind of funny … my uncle was so mad at the landlord he had somebody dig a hole and put the restaurant in there,” said Patronas. “When they were digging it up for the Flats I went down there to look and see if there was anything left of the restaurant.”
Patronas said the neighborhood is a great place for a burger bar.
“This is really exciting that Tom and his family are going to take it over,” he said. “They’ll do a tremendous job. I’m excited to have another burger place to go to.”
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