The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

August 18, 2008

Today’s special: Rumor-mill ribs

The word on the street these days is a bunch of Mankato restaurants are closing.

MANKATO — Psst ... Hey, did ya hear the rumor? Famous Dave’s is closing. Yeah, so’s Green Mill. And Red Lobster, Home Depot and Bakers Square.

What? You haven’t heard the rumors? Consider yourself among the few in town who hasn’t. Seems everyone you ask has heard something lately about a restaurant or other major business closing somewhere in town.

And there have been several that have either closed or announced they’ll be closing.

Timberlodge, the char house whose arrival was christened with the urban myth of cooks urinating on steaks, closed its doors a few weeks ago. About the same time, Starbucks announced the closure of several hundred coffee houses across the country, including two of its Mankato locations.

And Great Wall, the Chinese restaurant that for years operated in upper North Mankato, closed that restaurant and its newer one in the University Square strip mall.

But what of the others?

One of the names most frequently cited in rumor-mill conversations is Famous Dave’s, the barbecue ribs joint.

“It’s a rumor, nothing more,” said Dave Raymond, restaurant manager. “I’m surprised it hasn’t affected us more.”

Raymond said he’s heard the rumors many times. And at a recent chamber event his assistant manager had to dispel rumors that had come up during conversation.

The restaurant, Raymond said, is owned locally and the building is paid for. The reason most restaurants end up closing is because they cannot pay their mortgage, which isn’t an issue in this case.

And the ownership group, which includes Mike Drummer of Drummers Garden Center and Floral, has a Famous Dave’s booth at the Minnesota State Fair. The revenues from that, Raymond said, come back to the Mankato restaurant.

Red Lobster manager Eric Allore said he’s also heard rumors of business closings, especially restaurant closings. But it wasn’t until Tuesday that his restaurant had made the rumor mill’s list.

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