MANKATO — Two are going, two are gone as the transformation of South Front Street begins.
"This is really going to change the look of this area," said Gregg Anderson of the project that will eventually bring a seven-story office tower, a four-story retail/residential building and a parking ramp and lot. The buildings will begin going up next summer in a $16 million development by Tailwind Group.
Anderson, who runs a photo studio in his Front Street building, said the demolition of buildings to clear the way for the project is removing the last remnants of some old Mankato businesses.
This week, crews demolished two smaller buildings on the corner of Warren and South Front Street — one that had housed Survey Services and one that was most recently an antique store. Those spaces, across Front Street from where the construction will take place, will be a surface parking lot.
Demolition of the Survey Services building marks the end of the site of one of Mankato's first pizza parlors — Pizza Kato.
Chuck Dahline, raised in Willmar, was attending the University of Minnesota in 1957 when he went to work at a restaurant and tasted his first pizza. "I didn't know what a pizza was."
His boss soon recommended Dahline to a friend who was opening a new pizza parlor in Mankato and Dahline applied for a job. "Not many people in Mankato knew anything about pizzas, so I got the job," Dahline said.
In December of 1958 Pizza Kato opened in a new building — just four months after the city's first pizza place, Beasey's Pizza, opened on Main Street.
Ten years later Dahline bought Pizza Kato and ran it for another 20 years until 1988. The original parlor had a large neon marquee sign that was later replaced with a wall sign to meet new city sign ordinances.