Could Pizza Ranch soon make Duluth home?

Pizza Ranch. You say those two words and some people begin to start twirling in circles like a dog waiting for a treat. People absolutely love the fast growing casual pizza chain that is sweeping the nation by storm. Yet even with such aggressive plans... there has yet to be a Duluth location.

Well, that could soon be about to change. We've had a few tips recently stating that Pizza Ranch has in fact put Duluth on their expansion plans. In fact the new location is expected to open before years end. 

A Pizza Ranch representative at a store location within Minnesota stated that Duluth's location is planned for the former Party America space at 1025 West Central Entrance in the Stone Ridge Shopping Center near the Miller Hill Mall. The space is tucked behind Sprint and Catherine's and has been vacant for a number of months now.

 

WHAT IS IT?

Well, if you're unfamiliar to the Pizza Ranch concept then let us fill you in before we spill the rest of our details.

Pizza Ranch opened the doors to their first location in Hull, Iowa in 1981. Since then the company has expanded to over 180 locations within the Midwest and West. In the Midwest it actually is the largest regional franchise pizza company around. The company is largely Christian based with a goal "to glorify God by positively impacting the world we live in."

The restaurant is well known for their wide variety of menu items including their many pizza options, chicken options, and a salad bar. During certain times of the day there also is a pizza buffet available to diners.  

We've also heard the dessert pizzas are quite delicious.

Interior of a Pizza Ranch location  |    Rochon Corporation

Interior of a Pizza Ranch location  |  Rochon Corporation

NOT THE FIRST TIME

This wouldn't be the first time that Pizza Ranch has set their sights on Duluth, oh no.

About six years ago the company planned to locate within the Maple Square retail center in Duluth across from the Burning Tree Plaza. The space they were to occupy would have been most of the second floor next to Nevada Bob's Golf.

Plans for that site however never came to fruition. It was however always clear that the company still intended to open a restaurant (or a few) within the Twin Ports. The question at that point in time turned into "when?"

It might have been that first mention of a Pizza Ranch coming to Duluth that caused locals to begin petitioning for a Duluth location. If you check out the company's facebook page today you can see numerous mentions of people requesting a Duluth location in their comments feed.

MORE DETAILS TO COME

Currently we are waiting on details (mostly a confirmation) from Pizza Ranch's corporate office about the potential Duluth restaurant. Sources state that work has already begun on the utilities portion for the new Duluth restaurant and that an opening is still planned for this Winter.

You know the drill. Once we find out more details we will be sure to post them right here at CDINDULUTH. Until then, check out our other articles about all the great development occurring in the Twin Ports under our news section. Or just click here.

 

Second Duluth Chipotle location on the way... hopefully.

Duluth's second Chipotle location could be be open by early next year if all our burrito dreams come true.

It was never really a question of "if" Chipotle would open a second location in Duluth, rather it was more so "when". Even before the company opened their first Northland location last year at the Miller Hill Mall it was clear that Duluthians loved themselves some Chipotle. But let's be honest, who doesn't?

Chipotle will officially celebrate a year of being open in late June and even before that year is complete sources are saying that the company already has plans for an additional location in Duluth. Or do they?

Fox 21 recently spoke on the planned opening while reporting on a job fair that Chipotle recently hosted. That job fair invited interested candidates to come to any of the company's midwest locations to interview, which includes the over 50 locations in Minnesota alone.

Our minds ablaze with the thought of another Chipotle location in mind we quickly got in touch with Chipotle's Headquarters. We emailed our "friend in the burrito biz" as she calls herself, Tara, who replied with a quick response. "I did some checking, and I don't see anywhere that we're planning on opening up a new restaurant in Duluth or Superior" she told us.

WAIT. WHAT?

That's right, you did in fact read correctly, she said that there are no plans for a new location in Duluth. So how could that be if it was already announced that there was in fact a location set to open in 2016? 

Here's the thing, there's one thing we have learned about Chipotle over time and it's the following.

Chipotle loves the "hush hush" style of communication when it comes to their new locations, which we don't blame them. It seems that they really won't identify that a location is in fact opening until the sign is hanging above the door.

We saw this with the first Duluth location that we reported was coming over a year in advance yet the company would not confirm the opening until about six months later.

It makes sense though. It's better to be safe then sorry as sometimes there can be hiccups when it comes to leases or there can be major construction set backs. We also experienced this with the location at the Miller Hill Mall as it's opening was pushed back multiple times due to a delay in kitchen equipment arriving.

Above: Chipotle's only Duluth location at the Miller Hill Mall.

WHERE OH WHERE COULD CHIPOTLE GO?

We're still confident that Duluth has another Chipotle in the works, to be honest we think there might be a few additional Chipotle locations in the works (Yes, Superior your day will come soon). As always with things here at CDINDULUTH we try our best to find out every little detail we can as quick as we can.

We're not saying anything is set in stone regarding the exact location of the new Chipotle but we are placing our bets on East Duluth, specifically the area near the colleges. Let's be honest, College students love their burritos and they really love their Chipotle.

Likely developments that Chipotle could call home would be the Shops at Bluestone in their next retail phase that would be potentially be ready late next year. There's also the recently announced Kenwood Village development developed by United Properties which would be ready for occupancy by next summer. 

BUT WAIT, WHAT ABOUT DOWNTOWN?

Ahh yes burrito lovers you are correct there is another area that Chipotle would be perfectly suited for and that's Downtown Duluth. There's quite a number of suitable spaces that Chipotle could locate in but we think that if they were to head Downtown it would be a location on Superior Street for sure. 

There's also the new Maurice's headquarters and the 20,000 square feet of commercial space that is available on the first floor. It seems pretty logical that Chipotle might want to open a location on the first floor of a building that has 600 workers located directly above. Completion on the Maurice's headquarters will be by the first quarter of 2016.

THE MORSAL, WE MEAN MORAL, OF THE STORY

We do have sources confirming that an additional Chipotle location will in fact open in 2016 as Fox 21 mentioned and regardless of what company officials are able to say at the moment. 

We'll keep you updated regarding all the news that we here at CDINDULUTH are able to uncover about the Twin Ports second Chipotle location. 

In the mean time we think it's quite logical to head to Chipotle to celebrate this news from the burrito gods. They're open until 10pm today at 1600 Miller Trunk Highway in Duluth so really there's no excuse.

Aldi still planning Twin Ports locations... but where?

We all know Aldi is coming, but when? And where? And why do we not know more information? Well, that's because CDINDULUTH is here to tell you more.

We originally reported on Aldi's potential plans to come to the Twin Ports in January of last year. We were quite excited to be able to break the news in December that Aldi was indeed planning at least two Twin Ports locations to open within the next year. However, it's March now and things seem to have been "hush hush" for quite sometime now. So then what exactly is going on with Aldi and the Twin Ports?

The German based low cost food market has been scouting the Duluth area as a new market for a few years now. On January 16th the company held interviews for positions for the new store locations and were looking for quite a few management positions and training for those Twin Ports locations was said to have begun last month. That still doesn't solve the store locations problem. So come on CDINDULUTH, for crying out loud TELL US WHERE THEY ARE GOING!

We been in contact with Spencer Shimmel, director of Real Estate for the Fairbault division of Aldi, about the new locations. "Nothing is guaranteed in these markets" as of yet he told us. It's not that the company is still contemplating if they should enter the market, but as Andrew said Aldi is still "investigating" where in the Twin Ports is the best fit for them.

Now things are quite matching up if you've been following some of the news on Aldi regarding the Twin Ports. Fox 21 noted back in December that Aldi had selected a site in front of Menards on Tower Avenue to construct a new 18,000 square foot food market (we call them grocery stores). Yet those plans still have not been confirmed by Aldi corporate officials (trust us we;ve tried to get it out of them) and it seems the company is keeping quite secret on the topic.

Does it mean that the news isn't true? Well, not quite. To be honest it's a perfectly logical site for Aldi in Superior. It's on a busy road, there's a plot ready for development, it's next to a big box retailer who draws many customer types, plus it's on the edge of town meaning its accessible to both city dwellers and those who live outside the city. So what are we saying? It's probably correct that Aldi will in fact build a store location on Tower Avenue. But is it confirmed? No.

Well that's great for Superior, but what about Duluth? Things still remain under wraps regarding the Duluth location. We have yet to really hear any details on where Aldi may potentially locate in Duluth. Logical places include quite a number and it's evident that the company most likely will open multiple locations within the city.

Our personal site contenders for an Aldi location include one that is near the Miller Hill Mall possibly near Sam's Club by the new Mills Fleet Farm development where the are plentiful sites ready for development and high traffic counts. Another site that might suit Aldi well is the former Save-A-Lot space in West Duluth. Other sources have said Aldi is looking at locating near UMD in the Woodland Area. The only place we can think of is the Bluestone development and personally we hope to see a Trader Joe's there one day (remember it's part of Aldi's family).

When all is said and done you can rest assured on two things. The first is the Aldi is still coming to the area. The second is that CDINDULUTH will be right here to let you know all the latest in Aldi development news... and... well Twin Ports development news too!

Build A Bear Workshop planning Miller Hill Mall location

Exterior of the new BBW Prototype   Image: Property of Celebrate Every Day With Me

Exterior of the new BBW Prototype Image: Property of Celebrate Every Day With Me

It looks to be official, Build A Bear Workshop will officially be coming to the Miller Hill Mall this fall on October 3rd.

Don't believe us, no really, we think we can be quite certain! Check out their website here! We first gained knowledge that Build A Bear Workshop, the iconic custom built stuffed animal store, was looking at the Duluth market for a new store almost six years ago. They first began searching for a suitable space at the Miller Hill Mall before the recession hit, but then, as with all retailers things were put on hold. 

With over 400 locations nation wide and the motto "Where best friends are made", Build A Bear Workshop is a one of a kind type of store that is guaranteed to make your child or grandchild's day, week, month, or sometimes even year. People don't go to the workshop simply to get a stuffed animal, they go for the experience... and might we add that it is quite an experience. New stores have been updated even more so to feature new and exciting technologies that will better connect with children of the modern day. Yes. Technology like touch screens that help in the assembly of a teddy bear. We're beginning to wonder if this is more so for the kids, or to give the parents something to do too! We're not complaining!

Interior of the new BBW Prototype   Image: Property of Celebrate Every Day With Me

Interior of the new BBW Prototype Image: Property of Celebrate Every Day With Me

Now what makes Build A Bear Workshop truly so special? You get the fact that you build your own stuffed animal, but what we don't think you get is the extent to which that process goes. What the store is known for is custom built bears (and now other various stuffed animals) in which a child selects every aspect of it's appearance. Literally every single aspect.

First you select your bear or stuffed animal type, then you go to a machine that's filled with white stuffing in which a worker helps you fill your bear, bringing it to life. You then take a little heart, make a wish upon it and then put that heart inside your bear or stuffed animal, giving it a heart beat and soul. Some of the options even include speaking elements that can be put inside the bear so that when the bear is hugged it speaks. But it doesn't end there, because let's be honest, a child's stuffed animal cannot be naked these days! That's when you go to small section of the store that features all the clothing elements what could possibly need or imagine. Yes people, you are then going to dress the bear.

It's quite the creative process and one that has put Build A Bear Workshop on the maps, making it a destination store. While one can imagine that a purchase from this store is not cheap, it's really the experience you're paying for. You're not running in and out grabbing whatever stuffed animal looks good. You're taking a 45 minute journey to create your child's perfect stuffed animal. So when it comes down to it, it's worth the money.

Interior of the new BBW Prototype   Image: Property of Celebrate Every Day With Me

Interior of the new BBW Prototype Image: Property of Celebrate Every Day With Me

So now that you know a little about the company, you might be excited to find out that Build A Bear Workshop looks to be opening a store at the Miller Hill Mall on October 3rd. The exact location is not clearly stated, however we do have a few speculations. Originally they had wanted to open in the center court in the space the houses Pro Image, or even one of the jeweler spaces. The most logical space now might be the former Trade Secret and Select Comfort spaces that could be combined into one space one Victoria's Secret moves their temp location out. Otherwise Build A Bear Workshop could easily open a location in the other temp Victoria's Secret location where " A Dollar " store use to be near Sears. 

Whatever the space maybe, it appears as if a lease has been solidified and after many, many, MANY, years of planning, Build A Bear Workshop soon will be delighting the creative minds of children all around the city of Duluth and surrounding areas. In other words, parents... start saving now!

If you have time, check out a quick video of the new store and process of bringing a stuffed animal to life. It's quite neat to see. 

Could grocery retailer Aldi soon call Duluth home?

aldi-logo.jpg

We imagine them almost to be like the Ikea of grocery retailers... except their name is Aldi (short for Albrecht Discount) and their about the 20th of the size. Technically listed as a "global discounted super-market chain," the company has over 9,000 locations across the world and last year alone posted a revenue of over 70 billion dollars.

Now, you're probably thinking to yourself "how in the world could they have 9,000 locations and I've never heard of them?" Well, the majority of those locations are not found within the country in which you currently inhabit. They're a German company who got their start in 1913 and has been aggressively expanding ever since, recently working on their U.S. expansion. In the United States alone, Aldi now has over 1,300 stores in 32 states. The company states that they "take a simple, cost effective approach to grocery sopping." By doing so they are able to create a shopping experience that "fundamentally saves shoppers on their grocery bills at checkout." And let's be honest, everyone likes to save a little bit of money... or a lot. 

So what makes Aldi so special you ask? Besides their INSANELY low prices that often save customers over 50% on their bill compared to their competitors; Aldi goes about doing business a little differently than most grocers. So here's a few of the most important things that we believe make Aldi your not so traditional supermarket, but rather one that will become your new go to place.

-They're only open during peak business hours... similar to Trader Joe's. That means when you have those late night grocery necessities, you'll still have to go to the super-grocers that never seem to close. But. that also means that they are able to keep their prices lower due to their lower operating costs.

-That cart you're driving... you'll need a deposit to get it in the first place. It's a way to lower prices. Pay a quarter to use a cart and the moment you return that cart you get that quarter back. It's all a measure to ensure that carts don't go missing... or traveling down the road for a head on collision with something much larger than the cart itself. Plus, that means there are never stray carts in the parking lot... meaning no cart attendants and even more so important, no dents to your vehicle. *Cough... SAVINGS.

-Where's the shopping basket? So... you have no desire to rent a cart because of the 25 cent fee. We understand. It all adds up at some point. Instead, grab an empty box from the shelf and use it as a makeshift basket. Aldi loves that. Why? Because you're helping clean up for the end of the night. These are quite the smart people.

-Those bags that hold your groceries... those aren't free either. Don't fret though. They only with set you back a few cents for a paper or plastic one. And let's be honest people, you should be using cloth bags if you're not already. Why? They're cleaner, greener, and ultimately cheaper in Aldi's case. Plus you're helping save the planet. Win. Win.

-Where are the brand names I've grown to love? No where. That's right. Aldi doesn't carry name brands. If you've been to Trader Joe's, than you'll understand this concept. Everything is "manufactured by many of the nation's leading food producers" and the products are ensured to surpass the quality of national brands.

-The Weekly Ads... no one has ever been so excited to get the paper. Don't throw that extra sheet of paper that came with that Sunday newspaper. That's the holy grail of newspaper ads. That's an Aldi ad. That's savings right there.

-Need to call Aldi? Good luck. They don't list their individual store phone numbers.. and with good reason. Aldi says that each store "typically has three to five employees in the store at any given time" that strictly are there to help customers and restock shelves. So if you have a question go on in and ask it... and buy a few items while you're there. Otherwise you can always call their friendly customer service line.

-Don't bring the credit card. That's right.. no credit cards or checks accepted. Every other form of payment however is... every current form of payment that is.

-Ready for the biggest fact of them all. It's going to blow your mind. When it comes to Aldi's company structure they are technically split into two different companies; Aldi Sud and Aldi Nord. Aldi Sud in the U.S. is known for their Aldi stores... otherwise Aldi Nord is known for their Trader Joe's locations. Yes. You read correctly. Aldi technically owns Trader Joe's. Now you understand why we hinted at Trader Joe's earlier...

Newest Aldi Prototype, image from The Grocery

Newest Aldi Prototype, image from The Grocery

So why in the world are we making such a big deal about Aldi of the sudden. Besides the fact that it's truly a great a place to shop at (and you should know that know from the lengthy details above); the whole brand may be getting far closer to the Duluth area... closer than the over 20 locations in the Twin Cities area. Over the past few months we have a few different sources coming to us saying that Aldi is preparing to enter the Duluth market. We took note of it and began to research into the topic. Eventually we got in touch with Aldi's corporate office and below is what we found out.

Our sources told us that Aldi is planning on opening two to three locations in the Duluth market within the next two years. When approaching their development team we were forwarded to officials who knew more about the specific expansion plans for the area. The response we got back wasn't the exact one we were hoping for, but it solidified our beliefs in the chain entering the Duluth market. Officials said that "at the moment, nothing has been confirmed" regarding a specific location for a store. However, it can be confirmed that the company is interested in locating in the Duluth market and is actively looking for sites.

What does this mean? If Aldi comes... does it mean that Trader Joe's won't be far behind? Or does it mean that Aldi could be looking to open both an Aldi and a Trader Joe's location within the first few locations in the area? We've been hearing more and more about Trader Joe's getting ready to also enter the Duluth market, even from Trader Joe's workers themselves. So it would make sense wouldn't it?

We're still in talks with the development team and will be sure to let you know when we find out more details. Until then... think happy... low cost... grocery thoughts.



Dunkin' Donuts looking to enter Duluth market

dunkin-donuts.jpg

Yes. You read that title correctly. Your donut craving eyes and stomach have not caused you to hallucinate, but rather to see reality. Quite possibly the most famous donut and coffee chain in the entire country, even the world, is looking to enter the Duluth market... and it could all be yours. Yes. You could be the one responsible for bringing Dunkin' Donuts to Duluth.

It was reported in 2008 that Dunkin' Donuts was looking to enter the Minnesota market, but plans seemed to fail without an aggressive approach and  no interest from investors. The company had closed their last Minnesota store in the early 2000's. The talk that resumed in 2008 that there was a revival in the near future for the Dunkin' Donuts chain caused excitement in what seemed to be every corner of Minnesota. Dunkin' Donuts was looking now to gain control of the market directly after Krispy Kreme's departure in 2008 and Minnesotans were hungry for donuts in a virtually donut less environment. Then the recession hit hard and it's now been almost six years that we have still been searching, stomaches grumbling, for that delicious donut to fill our sweet tooth.

News recently broke out that the company is once again quickly looking to enter the Minnesota market. However, plans have changed, and boy have they changed for the better for us Duluthians! Dunkin Donuts has established that the Twin Cities market along with the Duluth market are where they desire to open their first Minnesota stores. They are looking for 10 franchisees in Minneapolis and for as many as five franchisees for the Duluth market. Yes people. This town could soon be home to five Dunkin' Donuts locations. But there is a catch. They need your help. Send them sources for investors! Talk to your friends and coax them into wanting to own a delicious donut and coffee emporium. You'll do us all a favor. That's the way you'll see your favorite donut shop popping up on the corner.

So whats the big deal about Dunkin' Donuts? People seem to obsess over it. You mention the double d's and it's practically as if people faint to the floor. Their a little like Walgreens when it comes to their expansion plans in larger cities... you'll find one on every corner... maybe sometimes even two to a block. Their ambitious in their plans and they have reason to be as they are... well... basically glorified by the masses. It's the fact that the company is a double whammy when it comes to sales. It's not just the fact that they have delicious donuts... it's the fact that they have the delicious coffee to go along with it too. It's created great success for the company. 1950 marked the birth year of Dunkin' Donuts, today they have over 15,000 locations in 37 different countries. Their menu seems to continue to expand with each new year, now including over 1,000 items.

Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 3.42.48 PM.png

Now what exactly does it take to open an iconic shop like Dunkin' Donuts? Well... continue reading and we'll tell you. Feast your eyes on the process. First you need to select an available market, good news for you is that not only is Minnesota an available market, but you have over 85 available counties to choose from. If you're looking to open shop in Houston or Winona county... your luck has run dry as those are already reserved. The interesting thing is that St. Louis County is the only county marked for future growth. Special treatment? We think so. The company must have changed plans recently and have yet to update their website. The next step in the process of owning your dream donut shop is to have experience. No, you do not have to have owned a Dunkin Donuts before in your life, but food service, or retail management is a plus. Third... you've got to have a passion for the donuts. You must live by the donut ways and dedicate yourself to serving not only the perfect donut, but also that delicious cup of coffee to go right be side it. Lastly, you've got to have the moolah... we're talking about a good amount of money here people. Requirements will vary depending on your market, but the lowest is that of $250,000 in minimum liquid assets and $500,000 minimum net worth per unit (store). Start saving those dollar bills now, it all will count eventually.

After reading the above statements, we know what your thinking to yourself. "It's funny. I happen to live in Duluth, love donuts... actually glorify them, and happen to have ohh... $250k sitting around." Well then, we think a match was just made in donut heaven... and you're in luck. Dunkin Donuts will hold a Minnesota conference for potential investors on January 21st. We think it's in your best interest to attend. Just imagine... driving up that steep hill past Spirit Mountain with thousands of Dunkin' Donuts fans cheering you on from the sidelines of the freeway... shouting your name. Now we can't guarantee that type of send off, but we can do our best to try.

So long story short, encourage your neighbors, friends, and family members, to look at opening a Dunkin Donuts in the Duluth area. They'd do us all a great favor and we'd be eternally thankful. Heck, why not get your kids in on the deal. I mean really... what kid is going to deny you their allowance for endless donuts? Point. Made.