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Restaurants Posts

What is the best Duluth-area bakery?

baked-goodsThe decline of the corner bakery in modern America could be considered one of the greatest food-related tragedies of our time. An 85 percent decrease in standalone retail bakeries occurred in the United States over the past 40 years, according to Retail Bakers of America.

With this in mind, it seems important to show our local bakeries some love. That’s why our latest poll will decide the perfect Duluth bakery.

Nominate your favorite by commenting on this post. It will be a purely subjective poll, of course. Comparing an old-school institution stocked with traditional sweets like Long Johns and Bismarcks and a newfangled shop specializing in artisan breads and delicate pastries is a bit like comparing apples to oranges, but the idea is to choose an overall favorite.

Feel free to nominate bakeries that double as coffee shops and serve food or the supermarket variety, if you’re so inclined.

After much geographical consideration, we’ve determined any bakery within 16 miles of the Aerial Lift Bridge is eligible for nomination. That means establishments in Superior, Hermantown, Proctor and the many bordering townships qualify for nomination, but more distant places like Two Harbors and Cloquet do not.

Once we have a good pool of nominees, the poll will commence.

Avenue C restaurant in Cloquet could open by year’s end

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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.

Bagels, coffee and pizza coming to Endion

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A co-branded Caribou Coffee and Einstein Bros. Bagels will open in a new luxury apartment complex that’s been quickly taking shape in Duluth’s Endion neighborhood.

Hermantown Zen House moving to former Sala Thai location

zen-house-japanese-restaurant-steve-kuchera-dnt-photoThe Duluth News Tribune reports the Hermantown Zen House restaurant in the ICO convenience store at Maple Grove and Haines roads is moving to Duluth’s Woodland neighborhood. Zen House manager Joe Shortino told the paper ICO sold the property and the rumored buyer is Kwik Trip. An ICO official told the News Tribune a sale is pending, but would not disclose the buyer.

Zen House’s new location will be 4023 Woodland Ave. Sala Thai occupied that building before moving to 114 W. First St. in 2015.

Hacienda del Sol building eyed by Lake Avenue Restaurant group

The Hacienda del Sol restaurant on East Superior Street closed in 2011. Lake Avenue Restaurant and Bar owners are in the process of buying the property.

The Hacienda del Sol restaurant on East Superior Street closed in 2011. Lake Avenue Restaurant and Bar owners are in the process of buying the property.

Owners of a popular Canal Park restaurant have been working for more than a year to secure the former Hacienda del Sol building in the newly rebranded Downtown Duluth Historic Arts and Theatre Distict.

Lake Avenue Restaurant and Bar owner Mark Swenson said last week his partnership group is working to purchase the long vacant Mexican restaurant at 319 E. Superior St. The group would like to remodel and reopen the building with a kitchen serving Central American inspired cuisine.

Open Tues. Thru Sun. Closed Tue.

mrrobertsresort

Similar to the Green Door Lounge, ay?

Duluth-area happy hour food and drink deals to last the week

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After a busy day, it’s tough to muster up the energy to cook a meal. But going out to eat and drink regularly is expensive. The good news? If you plan it right, you can drink and dine at plenty of local places any day of the week for 10 bucks or less. Here’s a daily planner for sampling of some of the best happy hour specials in Duluth and Superior.

Twin Ports Best Kept Dining Secret

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One of the best kept secrets of the Twin Ports is Sclavi’s Italian Restaurant at 1106 Tower Ave. in Superior. I am amazed that more people do not know about it. We live in Minneapolis and it is better Italian food than anything we can think of in the Twin Cities. But as the best things in Suptown are, it is quirky.

New Duluth-area Restaurants: Fall 2016 Update

The opening date of a new eating or drinking establishment is often a moving target. A majority of enterprises planning to launch in the coming months required significant gutting and reconstruction of old buildings, a common recipe for delays. Here’s the scoop on four soon-to-launch food and beverage joints.

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Owner Rick Lampton has pushed back the anticipated opening date for Superior’s 7 West Taphouse to Oct. 3. The burger bar at 1319 N. Tower Ave. is modeled after the original Duluth location. It will feature burgers, tacos and 40 rotating taps of craft beer. Click here to read the full-length story from July.

Out with the Tycoons, in with the Blind Pig

TycoonsThe Duluth News Tribune reports Tycoons Zenith Alehouse will close Oct. 17 and reopen Oct. 22 as the Blind Pig.

“The Blind Pig is going to be a gastropub and alehouse — higher quality but more casual,” Marissa Saurer told the DNT. She’s the marketing manager for Just Take Action, the company that owns the soon-to-be former Tycoons and future Blind Pig, along with Fitger’s Brewhouse and its Barrel Room, Endion Station and Burrito Union.

The Rathskeller, a second bar on the Michigan Street level of Tycoons, will not be affected by the change.

Duluth News Tribune: Blind Pig to replace Tycoons Alehouse

Small Business

Mary Tennis - Saturday EssayScrolling through files on my computer at work, I can pretty much trace the progression of the business through spreadsheets, price labels and photographs (candid and professional) of events, company parties, and breaks in the action behind the counter. Families have grown, ex-staffers have gone to rehab, become police officers, found god, and earned master’s degrees, prices have more than quintupled, and previously experimental recipes have been honed into lexicon. When I say “progression,” I mean pile: an amorphous mass of guesswork, troubleshooting and triage that has taken shape and could be temporarily (like for the purposes of this essay) deemed linear.

I work for Northern Waters Smokehaus, a small business gone large. The retail side of the enterprise started out 15 years ago with the idea that we were going to offer a small, specialized service (smoked fish and imported cheese) to a specialized audience (those with the monetary means coupled with the proper palettes). We had five employees counting the owner himself, who took care of pretty much everything besides front-line sales (though he did that as well from time to time, and was utterly expert at it — I think a dozen bored housewives fell in love with him that first year we were open, charmed irresistibly by his earnest and passionate obsession for good food).

Perfect Drinking Establishment: Sir Benedict’s Tavern

PDD-Drinking-Establishment2016Area boozers and barflies have reached a general consensus: Sir Benedict’s Tavern on the Lake is the perfect Duluth drinking establishment. The English-themed pub located at 805 E. Superior St. netted 34.5 percent of the vote in Perfect Duluth Day’s poll.

Sir Ben’s is a bit of an institution. It opened as a pub in 1978 (before that the building was a service station) with a focus on sandwiches and beer. The favored watering hole has long attracted a range of fans, from college students to musicians and business people.

Owners Josh and Kaila Stotts took over the tavern in April 2015. Josh was surprised to learn about the PDD poll. When asked what patrons appreciate about the bar, he said. “We try to offer a welcoming ambiance — a place where people can relax and feel really comfortable.”

Josh Stotts,owner of Sir Ben's

Josh Stotts

Is Bottoms Up the beer pouring device of the future?

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Mike Mohr in front of one of his Bottoms Up beer dispensers

Gronk’s Bar and Grill in Superior has long been known for serving burgers upside down. In February, the bar was the first in the area to install a remarkable tap-beer delivery system that fills glasses from the bottom up. Since then another Superior drinking establishment, Jack’s Place, has also added a Bottoms Up system in its beer garden.

Gronk’s owner Mike Mohr first saw the Bottoms Up system at the Wisconsin State Fair. He was impressed with its technology and speed. Later, when his daughter was advocating for more craft beer taps at Gronk’s, he thought the novelty might be a good way to draw beer fans in.

Cast Iron Bar and Grill fills Le Grand Supper Club void

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Duluthians don’t typically venture north of Hermantown to eat dinner, but now there’s a reason for the ride. The Cast Iron Bar and Grill opened three months ago in the old Le Grand Supper Club space in the Pike Lake area.

Morgan Park’s only coffee shop and eatery turns two

Felisha and Brandon Johnson

Felisha Johnson and her father-in-law, Paul Johnson

When Morgan Park School closed in 2012, the neighborhood seemed to be in decline. Two prominent businesses, Advantage Emblem and Park State Bank, had already moved out. The grocery store and post office were long gone. Nothing new seemed on the horizon.

Paul Johnson and his son Brandon, owners of the Lakeview Store Building, felt the area needed a gathering place. In 2014 they opened Iron Mug Coffee House in the building’s southern end at 1096 88th Ave W. July marks the two-year anniversary of Iron Mug’s opening, while the historic building that served as one of the first indoor shopping malls in the United States recently celebrated its 100-year anniversary.