A lost Iowa visitor and a Joni Mitchell song inspired some “guerilla” advertising in downtown Rochester.
Hollandberry Pannekoeken owner Taso Psomas posted a defiant banner on Friday afternoon on a chain link fence surrounding the bare ground where the former Days Inn/ Carlton Hotel once stood on the corner of First Avenue Northwest and Center Street.
“They Paved Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot? … so we had to move,” states the banner. It also displays directions to Psomas’ nearby restaurant, Hollandberry.
Psomas says the idea for the banner and map came from a conversation with a customer, who has been coming to his restaurant for years while at Mayo Clinic.
The customer discovered during his latest visit that the hotel, built in 1920, that once housed Psomas’ popular Pannekoeken restaurant was just an empty lot with signs advertising for parking.
After asking around and some wrong turns, the man from Waterloo, Iowa, found the new incarnation of Psomas’ restaurant in the Queen City Center at 214 North Broadway.
While sharing his story with Psomas at the restaurant, the visitor quoted Joni Mitchell’s song, “Big Yellow Taxi” and said, “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”
That quote combined with a customer having difficulty finding his restaurant resulted in Psomas placing the defiant banner on the fence owned by developer Mark Kramer of New Hampton, Iowa.
Kramer purchased the Days Inn property for $3.3 million in 2005, which made Psomas and his street-level Pannekoeken restaurant a tenant. To Psomas’ dismay, Kramer planned to demolish the hotel and build a new development.
Kramer faced opposition, including Psomas, that said the building should remain a historic downtown landmark. After years of convoluted back and forth discussion, Kramer won and torn down the building.
No development is currently planned for the lot now covered with grass and puddles surrounded by a chain link fence.
And until the owner discovers it, a lyrical, protest/advertising banner pointing the way to a displaced restaurant and Dutch pastries .