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Original Newt's and Hefe Rojo location to shutter for good in downtown Rochester

Hefe Rojo and the original Newt’s in downtown Rochester will close for good this weekend. The owners say downtown has "never bounced back from COVID" and they will focus more on their other restaurants, which have recovered.

Hefe Rojo and Newt's Downtown
Hefe Rojo and the downtown Rochester Newt's location, pictured Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022, share a building on First Avenue Southwest.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — Creative Cuisine is shutting down Hefe Rojo and the original Newt’s upstairs in downtown Rochester this weekend to focus on their five other Med City restaurants and one in Apple Valley .

Dave Currie, who owns Creative Cuisine with brother Mark Currie, confirmed the plan for Saturday to be the final day of their family’s 42-year run in the 216 First Ave SW building.

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“Downtown has never bounced from COVID. Everything we have outside of downtown is popping back really nice. It's really been difficult between the downtown construction and the thousands of people that were working downtown that aren't working downtown now,” said Currie. “That kind of killed everybody down there. We're not the first place to go and I'm sure we won't be the last.”

Mayo Clinic’s shift of many of its downtown employees to remote work dramatically changed the downtown market for restaurants, he said.

While the doors are closing, there shouldn’t be a loss of jobs. The 38 employees that staff the downstairs Hefe Rojo and the upstairs Newt's will be absorbed by Creative Cuisine’s other Rochester restaurants Newt's North, Newt's South, Newt's Express, The Redwood Room, City Market and The Purple Goat.

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Pulling the plug on a location that is so intertwined with their family was tough for the Currie brothers. Their father Mike Currie and Jerry Zubay opened The Bank restaurant in 1978 on the street level and then launched Newt’s upstairs in 1980.

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Mark and Dave Currie will close their Hefe Rojo restaurant and the original Newt’s in downtown Rochester this weekend, Oct. 8, 2022.
Post Bulletin file photo

The Bank became Henry Wellington’s and then City Cafe and finally Hefe Rojo in 2016 .

“My brother and I started work by running out food at Newt’s when we were 10. It's been a home to us for a long time,” said Currie. “It was not an easy decision, but downtown has so many challenges.”
While they are shutting Hefe Rojo and the original Newt’s down, diners will still be able to get Creative Cuisine food downtown.

The nearby City Market deli at 212 First Ave. SW will keep making sandwiches and soups for the downtown lunch crowd and Newt’s Express will keep serving up burgers and fries in the skyway level of the Odd Fellows Building.

The Curries are considering expanding the offerings at Newt’s Express to make it into a more of a replacement for the original Newt’s. However, those discussions are still up in the air at this time.

Hefe Rojo and Newt's Downtown
Hefe Rojo and the downtown Rochester Newt's location, pictured Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022, share a building on First Avenue Southwest.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin
Heard Around Rochester - Jeff Kiger.png

Jeff Kiger writes a daily column, "Heard Around Rochester," in addition to writing articles about local businesses, Mayo Clinic, IBM, Hormel Foods, Crenlo and others. The opinions of my employer do not necessarily reflect my opinions. He has worked in Rochester for the Post Bulletin since 1999. Send tips to jkiger@postbulletin.com or via Twitter to @whereskiger . You can call him at 507-285-7798.
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