Since offering its first class a year ago, Duluth Folk School has been largely nomadic. Appropriately enough, it recently found a home in the burgeoning Lincoln Park Craft District. A teaching kitchen and café are among the many plans for the massive space at 1917 W. Superior St.
Starting in June, Duluthians and tourists will once again be able to get their mini doughnut fix out of a retired fishing vessel in Canal Park.
The fate of Crabby Ol’ Bill’s snack shack remained in question after Steve and Susan Smith announced they would be closing it back in December after five years running the business. Last week, the Duluth City Council approved a lease for developer Brian Forcier of Titanium Partners to operate the seasonal food stand based within the Nels J, an iconic boat that sits adjacent to the boardwalk near the North Pier Lighthouse.
At the end of 2016 there were seven craft breweries in Duluth and nine more across the region. Another six are in the planning or soon-to-open stages in 2017. In the two years since Perfect Duluth Day conducted its first tally of the region’s beer production the total barrel output has grown from roughly 20,000 to nearly 35,000. That equates to more than one million gallons of craft beer locally brewed in 2016. By other measurements, it’s about 70,000 kegs, more than 8 million pints or more than 11 million 12-ounce bottles and cans.
The largest contributors to the recent growth were Bent Paddle Brewing and Castle Danger Brewing. Bent Paddle doubled its output over the past two years while Castle Danger grew six fold. Meanwhile, Moose Lake Brewing launched operations, Blacklist Artisan Ales opened a taproom and started canning, and South Shore Brewery opened an additional brewery and tasting room in Washburn.
In the year ahead, the brewing landscape is set to shift dramatically with the opening of a half-dozen new operations in the region. Newbies in the immediate Twin Ports area will be Hoops Brewing in Canal Park, Oakhold Farmhouse Brewery in Midway Township and Earth Rider in Superior. The Iron Range, home to only one brewing business in 2016 — the Boathouse in Ely — could soon welcome three more. Rapids Brewing Company and Cantankerous Brewing are in the works for Grand Rapids, while Boomtown Brewery plans to open at the former Zimmy’s Bar and Restaurant location in Hibbing.
Below is a breakdown of the 2016 stats.
Bent Paddle Brewing
30-barrel brewery and taproom, founded in 2013
1912 W. Michigan St., Duluth
Colin & Laura Mullen + Bryon & Karen Tonnis, co-founders; Charles Brodell, head brewer; Brent Rowe, regional sales manager; Pepin Young, taproom manager
2016 production: 15,700 barrels
Castle Danger Brewery
30-barrel brewery and taproom; brewery founded in 2011, taproom opened in 2014
17 Seventh St., Two Harbors
Clint and Jamie MacFarlane, owners; Lon and Mandy Larson, owners
2016 production: 9,200 barrels (est. for 2017: 14,000 bbl)
10-barrel brewery supplying six pubs and a retail store, founded in 1995
600 E. Superior St., Duluth
Rod Raymond, owner; Ted Briggs, master brewer
2016 production: 1,862 barrels
The United States now boasts over 5,000 craft breweries as the thirst for quality beer continues. The Twin Ports are clearly part of the trend. Duluth and Superior are home to eight breweries, with two more planning to launch in 2017. Several others dot the north and south shores of Lake Superior. The great news for beer aficionados: there’s no shortage of local beer and opportunities to taste the latest batches. The next three major swillfests are highlighted here.
Duluth Coffee Company is expanding its footprint on the 100 block of East Superior Street with plans for a major upgrade to its roasting operations and more space for events and education.
The coffee roasting business and over-the-counter java shop has occupied 105 E. Superior St. since 2012. Owner Eric Faust recently took over the former BB Makeup location two doors down at 101 E. Superior St. and renovation work there is underway. When the project is completed, Duluth Coffee will move its roasting operations into the new location on the corner of the block while retaining the original coffee-shop space.
Like many young entrepreneurs creating their own opportunities in Duluth, Amanda Belcher hasn’t had a straightforward career trajectory. She started studying exercise physiology at the College of St. Scholastica. Instead of continuing on to graduate school, she decided to become a professional baker.
Most people wouldn’t dream of creating a taco with ingredients like apple and kabocha squash, much less topping it with micro greens, pepitas, roasted tomatillo crema, pickled mustard and red onion. Then again, most people don’t have chef Nyanyika Banda’s imagination and culinary chops.
Banda is the proprietor of Marita Pop Up, a “globally inspired, locally sourced” pop-up restaurant that travels around the Duluth area, popping up at various locations and events. In March, Marita Pop Up began a regular schedule at the Red Herring Lounge on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 7 p.m. to midnight.
It might seem too early to be thinking about fresh local vegetables. The growing season around Lake Superior doesn’t generally start until May, but area farmers are already busy planning their crops and ordering seeds. The signup period has begun for most farms offering community supported agriculture subscriptions. The online CSA Signup Day is today, Feb. 24; Duluth’s CSA open house is March 19.
Farm shares offer a direct method for consumers to access fresh food from local growers. Members buy a seasonal “share” from the farm. During harvest time, which is generally mid-June to mid-December, members go to a designated spot each week to pick up a box of mixed seasonal produce.
Drinking and dining options at Miller Hill Mall will improve by month’s end. Lucky’s 13 Pub is set to open at 1600 Miller Trunk Highway on Jan. 30. Duluthians will barely recognize the space, which was occupied for 25 years by Old Country Buffet.
After one last New Year’s Eve celebration, Midi shuttered its doors for good. But the prime location the restaurant occupied in the lower level of the historic Fitger’s Brewery Complex, with its patio and unparalleled lake view, won’t be dormant for long.
Renovations are already underway for the Boat Club Restaurant & Bar, a fine dining establishment set to open in Midi’s old space Valentine’s Day weekend.