Fantastic Sam’s to open salon in Rochester

A few weeks ago I wrote about speculation that a new hair salon chain was coming to Rochester.

Now the signs are up, and it is Fantastic Sam’s. A Rochester couple hopes to carve out a place in the Rochester hair salon market by bringing the new name into the area.

Luke and Jolene Becher hope to open their franchise shop in Suite 500 of the Apache Shoppes shopping center at 1190 16th St. S.W.

"It seems like something that’s a little different that Rochester didn’t have," said Luke Becher.

They plan to open the 1,300-square-foot full-service salon Dec. 9. It will feature eight styling stations and have eight to 12 employees on staff.


It offers a complimentary shampoo with each cut.

Fantastic Sam’s entered the Minnesota market back in 2002, with a plan to open 80 to 100 salons in five years. They will have 66 salons in Minnesota once the Bechers open.

Mayo Clinic closing clinical test unit

Mayo Clinic is closing a business unit that managed clinical trials for pharmaceutical companies.

It will take about a year to shut down the for-profit Academic Research Organization, which is part of Mayo Collaborative Services Inc. That year will be used to wrap up some contracts. Mayo says 15 people work there and they will have time to find another Mayo job before the unit vanishes.

"They will be redeployed to better serve customers," says Thomas P. Moyer, chair of external affairs for the Dept. of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology as well as senior VP of Medical Affairs for MCSI. That means no layoffs, he says.

This move is driven by a decision to "re-focus," Moyer explained. The Academic Research Organization has been in operation for more than 10 years. It is based in the Mayo Superior Drive Support Center in northwest Rochester.

Real estate power duo to switch agencies


The buzz about the Rochester real estate industry is that a local power couple is about to switch horses.

The couple will move from the agency that they have long worked for successfully, according to the word on the street.

Keep an eye on the For Sale signs in yards and you might see two names show up under a different logo. If this speculation makes it through "due diligence" and becomes a done deal, look for the names here.

Pizza Ranch to build soon in Stewartville

Meanwhile, back at the Pizza Ranch…

Monte Beck of Stewartville has corralled a Pizza Ranch franchise and plans to build a 4,500-square-foot restaurant at 1580 Second Ave. N.W. between the Bucknell’s Antiques shop and Rochester Medical Corp.

"I’ve been trying to look for something new and different," he says. "All of a sudden bang, things worked."

It will seat 178 people and he estimates that he’ll hire 30 to 40 employees to staff it.


Construction could start as soon as the first week in December and the hope is to start serving by the late February or early March.

So why Pizza Ranch?

"When you say Pizza Ranch to people that have eaten there, their eyes just light up," Beck says.

Tracy Dixon, of the Jake and Tracy in the Morning Show on 102.5 The Fox, is one of those people.

"I don’t just want the first slice, I want to break ground. I want to help them build it," she gushed last week.

Disk maker opening office in Rochester

The name is new, but the jobs and the local workers are familiar.

Agere Systems, an international technology firm out of Allentown, Penn., is moving into a 6,000-square-foot office today at 3033 41st St. N.W. in Rochester

Agere has hired a team of 10 local storage design engineers that formerly worked for Maxtor Corp.’s Rochester office. That office closed in June when Maxtor was acquired by Seagate Technologies.

So why come to Rochester?

"This is where these guys live," says Bob Guenther, Agere’s director of public relations. "There was no reason to uproot them."

Jamey Shandley of Hamilton Real Estate handled the deal to lease the space.

Jeff Kiger can be reached at 285-7798 or Check out Kiger’s Notebook, his Web log on, for daily updates.

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