The Pita Pit store prototype design | Pita Pit

“Fresh Thinking, Healthy Eating” is the mindset behind a new fast casual restaurant that is setting up shop in Downtown Duluth. Pita Pit plans to open their first Duluth location in the new Maurices headquarters at 425 West Superior St. in November.

Pita Pit was founded in 1995 in Canada by John Sotiriadis and Nelson Lang. The duo wanted to open a fast casual restaurant that offered a healthy alternative with a Mediterranean inspired menu. In just 15 years Pita Pit grew from one single location to over 500 locations in 11 different countries. In Minnesota the company currently has three locations including one at the Mall of America in Bloomington and two others in Mankato and Brooklyn Park.

Think of Pita Pit as the Subway of the Pita world. Customers begin by selecting a type of meat, such as philly cheesesteak, falafel, chicken souvlaki or other Mediterranean inspired meats. From there they can add toppings by choosing from a selection of cheeses, vegetables and sauces.

When Pita Pit opens in November the street level of Maurice’s brand new headquarters will be completely leased with Blue Cross Blue Shield and Minnesota Power Employees Credit Union filling the remaining spaces. One 6,100 square foot office or retail space remains on the skyway level.



Blacklist Artisan Ales opening on Superior Street

Duluth knows how to do craft beer that’s for sure. This summer the scene will get even better when a Duluth favorite opens a new brewery and taproom in Downtown Duluth.

Duluth's newly designated HART District (Historic Arts and Theatre) on East Superior Street will soon be home to Blacklist Artisan Ales. The company announced that they will move their brewery from their current location at 211 East 2nd Street to 122 East Superior Street. The space previously was home to the Last Place on Earth and is now undergoing an extensive renovation after being purchased by Duluth-based Titanium Partners LLC last year.

Former Last Place On Earth building | Duluth News Tribune

Blacklist will occupy 5,700 square feet within the building and will act as the building’s flagship tenant. Plans for their space include not only a brewery but also a taproom for the public to enjoy their delicious brews. Currently Blacklist operates as a “gypsy” brewery meaning all their brewing and production occurs in rented spaces.

Started in 2012, Blacklist is owned and operated by Brian Schazenbach, T.J. Estabrook, and Jon Loss. The brewery prides itself on developing and brewing artisan ales. All three are quite talented individuals. Brian holds a World Brewers Certification from the Siebel Institute and most recently worked for the Fitger’s Brewhouse in Duluth while Jon is a cicerone… which means he is literally a certified professional on serving beer and pairing it with foods. T.J. on the other hand has an extensive background in taxation law and is listed as the company’s General Consul and Brewfit Visionary. Sounds to us like a team built for success.

Now let’s get this straight. Blacklist is quite the brewery when it comes to the beers they brew. It’s all in the ingredients which include grapefruit, green tea, lemongrass, and local honey among others. The move will allow not only for the expansion of production but it will also allow for the company to continue their experimentation with new ales.  If you want to see what they currently offer, visit their website here. If you don’t care… still visit it because it’s absolutely gorgeous.

The fact that Blacklist is coming to East Superior Street is great news for the continued rejuvenation of this portion of Downtown Duluth 

A new chapter for East Superior Street

In the past decade the area surrounding where Blacklist will open their new brewery has seen the addition of many new businesses and developments. Spearheaded in the early 2000's by Sherman Development's 11 story mixed use project including a Sheraton Hotel and condominium development, the area has continued to attract new businesses and development over the years.

Notable new restaurants to the area within the last five years include Zeitgiest Arts Cafe and Tycoons Alehouse along with the recently opened Lark Cafe. The Zeitgiest Arts building also house Zinema 2, a two theater independent movie theater, and also the Teatro Zuccone, a 120 seat performing arts space that is home the wildly successful Renegade Comedy Club. The company produces six shows a year and twice a week they host their IMPROV shows which are always a hit.

More recently Fond-Du-Luth Casino completed an extensive renovation to the interior and exterior of their space. Down the block the former Carlson Bookstore, now called The Lang Motors building, also is undergoing an extensive interior and exterior renovation.

What could be argued as the most influential and at one point, crucial, projects within the district is the renovation of the historic Norshor Theatre. Owned by Sherman Associates, the renovation and restoration of the theatre has been planned for years. After some setbacks and issues with funding work on the project is expected to begin this year with a completion planned for late 2017. When completed it will introduce a 700 state-of-the-art theatre to the neighborhood that will operated by the Duluth Playhouse.





PROJECT REVIEW: Duluth Trading Co.

Duluth. The company that bears our city's name in their own name has finally returned to their roots.

On May 9th, Duluth Trading Co. marked the opening of the company's fifth and newest location in the Woodrush Building at 300 E. Superior Street (across from the Sheraton Hotel). We stopped by to witness in person the store that seems to be the talk of mail order catalogue household; whether that be the household of a tradesman, tradeswoman, or your everyday Joe and Jodette.

Now, we know a good deal about Duluth Trading Co. and their history. We also know a good deal about their expansion plans and their overall operations as a company. What we didn't know was just how well built their stores are. Honestly, the downtown Duluth store is absolutely beautiful. It's rustic with a taste of north woods design... and if you're from up north, you completely just understood the design reference we just made.Entering the store, one will see that it's filled to the brim with everything and anything one could desire from Duluth Trading Co. Really, there's a lot of items so give yourself a chunk of time to explore. From t-shirts to shorts, gardening gloves to overalls, it's all there. There's also no shortage of footwear, especially those Wild Boar Mocs, tradesmen gear and workshop materials. If you feel like all the shopping and product gazing is starting to where you out, then you're in luck. There's a really nice lounge area complete with a flat screen TV, free coffee, and even two computers to complete online orders through. So take a break... rest... rejuivante... and then begin phase two of shopping.

In store you'll find lots and lots of wood, industrial styled lighting, and tons of those great Duluth Trading Co. graphics covering the walls, still hand-drawn as they have been for the past 20 years by the one and only Rick Kollath. After all, Duluth Trading Co's advertising is one of the things that has caused the company to become so well known and one of the things that truly sets them apart from the rest. One design feature that caught our eye from the moment we walked in was the great vintage looking "Duluth Trading Co." sign in the very back of the store, a design element we think was a very wise investment. The walls feature exposed brick, while the floors feature large wooden planks.  It's a shining retail gem on Superior Street. A place we hope begins a new retail development surge on that end of Downtown. 

What's the one thing that we really took away from our visit to Duluth Trading Co? The sales associates. They were out in the masses and were helpful as can be. Not only did they know their products like the back of their tradesmen (and women) hands, but they were also cheerful and excited to be there. There's nothing better than a positive shopping environment where there are people who not only want to be at work, but also love their job.

If you haven't had a chance to check out Duluth Trading Co's newest location in Downtown Duluth yet, we suggest you get on that. There's free parking in the First Street Ramp behind the Sheraton Hotel (make sure you bring your ticket for validation), not to mention on street parking. 

Our last words. Well done Duluth Trading Co. and welcome home.

And yes, of course we made a purchase.

And yes, of course we made a purchase.