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Restaurants Posts

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.

7WestSuperior7 West Taphouse

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.”

Is Bottoms Up the beer pouring device of the future?

GronksMikeMohr

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.

Perfect North Shore Restaurant: Gunflint Tavern

PDD-North-Shore-Restaurant-AwardLogoOne conclusion can be easily drawn from the results of Perfect Duluth Day’s poll to name the best restaurant on Lake Superior’s North Shore: Grand Marais is the place to be. The top three restaurants are located there, including the perfect one, Gunflint Tavern.

Owner Jeff Gecas says it hasn’t always been easy. He and his wife Susan are “Deadheads” who decided to create the business “almost selfishly” in 1998 because there wasn’t anywhere to watch live music and drink microbrews on draft in Grand Marais. “We never had Bud or Miller Lite. We didn’t allow smoking. People said ‘They’ll never make it,'” Gecas remembers. “We’re now in our 19th year.”

Upending convention, the Tavern now offers music 260 nights a year and brews its own beer. With its eclectic menu, craft beer and live music several nights of the week, it has become a North Shore institution and a favorite among locals and tourists alike.

In an outpost like Grand Marais, one might be surprised to find bangers and mash, chicken mole and an Asian noodle bowl under the same roof. Casual fare like burgers and pizzas are available at the Gunflint Tavern too, as are finer dining options such as walleye, steak and mushroom ravioli.

New 7 West Taphouse on Tower Avenue could open in September

7WestSuperior

A delay in financing stalled interior design work several months, but owners of the 7 West Taphouse in Superior say they plan to open their burger and beer business in mid-September.

Poll: Best Restaurant on the North Shore

north shore fork spoonLast week we compiled a list of nominees for the best restaurant on the North Shore of Lake Superior. The specific territory: Knife River to Grand Portage — basically anything in Lake or Cook counties was eligible for nomination.

Obviously several Duluth-area restaurants are technically “on the North Shore” — in particular the winner of PDD’s Perfect Restaurant Poll: New Scenic Café. For this poll we’re looking at places that are, at the very least, a serious bike ride from the Zenith City.

What’s the Perfect North Shore Restaurant? Vote now and have a say. Keep in mind that this is a runoff poll, so as time goes by the number of options will reduce. If the restaurant you initially voted for is eliminated, you may vote again among the remaining options.

We started with 27 nominees, then whittled it down to the Final Four: Angry Trout Café, the Crooked Spoon, Gunflint Tavern and Vanilla Bean.

This poll is now closed. The results were:

Gunflint Tavern – 35 percent
Angry Trout – 26 percent
Crooked Spoon – 22 percent
Vanilla Bean – 17 percent

Nominees for Perfect North Shore Restaurant Poll

north shore fork spoonWarm weather and wanderlust have Duluthians dreaming of a North Shore vacation. In this spirit, we’ve decided to conduct a poll to determine the best place to eat up the shore.

Before voting, we have to establish a list of nominees. What are the criteria for determining a North Shore Restaurant? After some debate, we’ve decided to include eateries on the shore located in Lake and Cook counties, from Knife River in the south to Grand Portage in the north.

While it might seem counterintuitive to some, this means the New Scenic Café is not included in the poll, since it is located in Duluth Township. It’s abundantly clear the Scenic is a favored restaurant; the café won PDD’s Perfect Restaurant Poll and has drawn accolades from foodies farther afield. For the purposes of this poll, we’re looking for restaurants that require a little more of an excursion from Duluth.

What’s the perfect North Shore restaurant (besides the New Scenic Café)? You tell us. We’ll round up the nominees and produce a poll in the coming days.

Moose Lake brewery opening soon

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According to the Brewers Association, Minnesota had 105 craft breweries in 2015. This number continues to rise, but the majority of breweries are still heavily concentrated in bigger cities, and particularly around the Twin Cities. But the founders of Moose Lake Brewing Company are bucking this trend; they believe every small town deserves its own brewery.

The opening of Moose Lake Brewing at 244 Lakeshore Drive in Moose Lake is planned for the end of July. Moose Lake has a population of 2,787. It supports a handful of restaurants and a municipal liquor store/bar.

Getting “juiced” at the Red Herring takes on new meaning

Giselle Hernandez

Giselle Hernandez

Most Americans fail miserably at consuming the USDA’s recommended 2 cups of fruit and 2.5-3 cups of vegetables per day. Beginning June 27, Twin Ports residents striving to meet this goal can opt for fruit and veggies in liquid form from the Juice Pharm.

Giselle Hernandez is the certified nutritionist behind the juicery, which will operate out of the Red Herring Lounge at 208 E. First St. Hernandez became interested in nutrition and eating whole foods during a hospital stay after a bad car accident. She soon tired of unhealthy, bland hospital fare and was thankful when a friend’s mother brought her supplements like coconut water and green drinks. She says these healthy options improved her energy and credits them with speeding her healing process.

When Hernandez recovered, she decided to study nutrition. She got her certification from the Natural Healing Institute in California. When she moved to Duluth three years ago, she was surprised the juice bar trend hadn’t reached the city. She says drinking juice has many benefits, one of the primary being illness prevention. She advocates juicing as a way to “get people to eat better and nourish the body with whole foods.”

New sweet shop in Hermantown

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Those with a penchant for pretty fondant will be pleased to know there’s a new boutique-style bakery in Hermantown. Heather Melzark and her fiancé Al Gutierrez opened Harbor City Sweets Bakery and Cakery in late February.

Carts, Pop ups, Trailers, Trucks & Tricycles: Duluth Mobile Food Guide for 2016

PDD Food Truck Guide 2015

Let’s face it: there’s nothing quite like dining al fresco on a perfect Duluth day. But area patio dining options are limited. Plus, they can be crowded and expensive. Those looking for a quick, reasonably-priced bite while relaxing outside can embrace the local food truck phenomenon. Several mobile eatery options have popped up to fill new niches since last year’s rundown. Find out more about these restaurants on wheels, when they’re around and what they have to offer in our 2016 guide.