I’ve create a new blog business category called retail space rumors, since we enjoy indulging in speculation here. This post is focused on those retail locations that were most recently restaurants.
I know what’s planned for two of these locations, so let the guessing begin.
Downtown, east side, L to R: Tiny’s, Sprazzo/Ideal Cafe/Las Delicias, Butler’s
Downtown, west side, L to R: Froggy Bottoms, Erbert & Gerbert’s, Final Course Cafe
So. Hwy 3, L to R: Wendy’s, KFC, Beef O’ Brady’s (not pictured: Sociale)
NB #1: I don’t allow comments containing rumors of businesses that might be closing, since I’ve learned via my own mistakes that that can have adverse effects, even if true.
NB #2: I’ve deliberately not linked to any of the websites of these former businesses, even though some sites are still up.
The Northfield Chamber has an Available Business Sites page.
Here’s a clue, a photo I took last night of some of the owners of a new restaurant opening soon. My phone camera’s flash makes them appear a little more wild and crazy than they actually are, though one can’t be sure:
A got a confirmation this morning that the Tiny’s building sold/closed earlier this week. The new building owner has yet to emerge.
The state of the Northfield restaurant scene continues to amaze me. If asked to characterize the general scene in one word, I’d say: Dull. I’m confounded. Two colleges, a well paid and well educated workforce, and you couldn’t get a bowl of mussels in garlic and butter if your life depended on it. Pizza, burgers, standard Chinese, mild Thai (does such a thing exist?), and two Indian joints…Please can’t one of these switch to bistro fare?
Great local ingredients: produce, game, poultry and meat. Sometimes they show up in local restaurants, but seldom are they showcased with imagination. Where’s the local, free range, coq a vin? Or a local grass fed osso bucco? The farmer’s markets seem to be a great success. My local beef and poultry farmer can’t keep up with demand. Foodies abound…but it seems they’re cooking at home.
A couple exceptions: Fermentations does try. But this is a (very) special occasion place. The country club also puts on some good special tasting events and I applaud them for it.
But,to sum up: Good pizza and good burgers. Enjoy!
And it does not take long to “bar hop” in Northfield. Hop, hop and you’re done, it seems. Years ago there was supposedly a Trivial Pursuit question: Name the town with two colleges and one bar. Guess the town! (Temperance advocate John North would be proud.)
Word on the street is that the Butler’s space is reopening in the next few weeks. Norm has something coming, but I will let him share…
William, I agree with you 100%. There is a lot of opportunity for the right type of restaurant in Northfield. Give us something that is moderately priced using fresh, local ingredients on a creative menu and it will do well.
As long as Chapati remains, the local restaurant scene will be good enough for me.
But I do greatly miss Froggy Bottoms.
We should all brainstorm on just what kind of restaurant we’d like to see. Then maybe someone would come along and give it a whirl. I’ve had the idea of a place that makes fresh corn torillas from scratch daily, like the kind you can get throughout Latin America. What could be more local and sustainable than corn?
Stephanie, I’ve removed your comment about the rumors of a closing. I noted in my blog post above:
I know this may sound bad to some of you, but I’m going to be the voice of glutton…Chipotle, some sort of build your own stir fry place, Red Lobster or similar seafood joint, Noodles & co or an Olive Garden, etc…we have several run of the mill cheapo fast food joints and have seen too many to count come and go over the years, but nothing in the mid-range (price and quality) sit-down, and take my order chains other than Applebees and Perkins (which in my opinion ya might as well just go to The Tavern).
I’d always heard that as “what town has more colleges than movie theaters?” (back when the Grand was still a movie theater).
Having some India derivation myself I’m keenest to have Asian options available. On that score, IMO, we’re not badly off. Together, Mandarin Garden, Pan Pan, New Buffet, Chapati, and Kurry Kabab offer some choice of rice-based cuisines.
Having two Indian places in town is great. Add a South Indian vegetarian place, or a range of really fresh South Indian offerings on the lunch buffet at an existing place, and I’d be fully covered.
What I think we still lack on the Asian front is full-menu Thai or Vietnamese. Many college towns smaller than Northfield have such places, some of them a bit upscale. Why not here?
I think we might also support moderately upmarket pizza/Italian, a la Punch or Nea or Biga in the Cities, with a significant beer/wine list, first-rate antipasti, and maybe some simple pasta dishes with fresh local ingredients.
High-end/destination/event/foodie places seem challenged here, though Fermentations’ small size probably helps. I’d guess local places suffer big time from competition with the many more options not far north — and closer to other special occasion destinations like movies, sports, and arts.
John, it’s not a Norman Butler enterprise, from what I’ve heard. He’s just the landlord.
We shall see. I got the info directly from Norm and Julie. Give me a call and we can discuss / compare notes. 😎
Linda, now it would be what town has two colleges and NO movie theaters! My reference to Trivial Pursuit comes from Jeopardy champ Ken Jennings’ book “Brainiac” from when he visited Carleton archivist Eric Hillemann in town.
BTW, the Froggybottoms.com website is still in operation for the river suites, Salon Synergy, directions and archived Froggy Times and Frogblog.
Hey, Paul … Fabulous Spring Rolls at “Tea Creations”, the bubble tea shop.
They make them fresh when you order them, vegetarian or pork/crab… two dipping sauces.
Can’t be beat for freshness, as well as tasting great… and they have just added some noodle soups.
The Latina’s (sorry I don’t know the name) restaurant/grocery next to the quarterback club has good authentic fare. The new Thai place in Faribault is, as Griff mentioned, also good with authentic Thai recipes and authentic Thai heat.
I’d like to see bistro/brasserie. A restaurant that specializes in french comfort food. Cassoulet, quiche, lamb shank, crepes…maybe even a warm duck salad. Simple, moderately priced places like Barbette in Minneapolis or La Crepe Nanou in New Orleans (and soon Mpls) might serve as a model.
Amen, William, to Barbette as an example: slightly funky, very friendly, moderate prices, limited but (to me, at least) interesting menu, art on the walls. Such a place might appeal both to college students on the occasional splurge and to their parents while visiting.
Um… I hate to say it, but the way most corn is grown in these parts is far from sustainable! Roundup-Ready, anyone??
As far a authentic goes… the Corner Market on Highway 3 next to Chuck and Don’s has really good Mexican take out. They have improved the inside and the music isn’t so loud so you could eat in their little seating area. Not terrific ambiance but inexpensive, burritos to die for and their guacamole is fabulous.
Nfld Patch: Northfield Gets a New Restaurant
Both 620 Grill and BodySmith are mentioned in this Nfld News roundup of local businesses – A good sign: City sees increased business activity.
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