It looks like a popular Med City chef is gearing up to launch a new restaurant in a historic building.
Chef Youness Bojji and his wife, Amber Bojji, built a reputation in Rochester for fine dining with their Casablanca Creative Cuisine & Wine restaurant. Unfortunately, the pandemic drove them to close Casablanca in the Barlow Plaza in August.
Now it seems the couple is back with a new restaurant – Chez Bojji.
After weeks of buzz that they had something new cooking, they posted the address for their new eatery on social media. Chez Bojii will be located in Rochester’s historic Avalon Building at 301 N. Broadway.
Not much else is known yet, other than that it will be a French restaurant. Originally from Morocco, the chef has lived in France, Italy and Spain. The tagline on the restaurant’s new Facebook page is “We Cook with Passion.”
It looks like Chez Bojii will step into the restaurant space built out last year by Chef Deirdre Conroy for her European-style eatery, Le Petit Café.
Construction delays followed by the pandemic forced Conroy to close her place. Now it looks like that has given the Bojiis an opportunity to start cooking for Rochester again.
The old brick building is arguably the most historic Rochester building without a direct Mayo Clinic connection.
It was built in 1919 by a Jewish man named Sam Sternberg as the Northwestern Hotel, a place where Jews could stay at a time when most Minnesota hotels refused them.
Verne Manning bought the building in 1944 and changed the name to the Avalon Hotel.
It was the first hotel in Rochester to accept black guests, as well as white. Well-known celebrities at the time, such as Duke Ellington, stayed at the Avalon.
By the 1980s, the building was unused and run down. Myrna Hamilton purchased it in 1987 and renovated it to house her Hamilton Music store.
When Hamilton retired in 2008, Stephen Lalama bought it and moved in his Rochester Pro Music. He changed the name to Avalon Music, to honor the building’s history.