Rochester has more than meets the eye
When Dr. Chris Russi first moved to Rochester six years ago to work in the ER at Mayo Clinic, he wasn't sure about the community.
"We came here from a great town, Iowa City," says the 40-year-old Russi. "I'll be honest, when we got here, we were skeptical."
The young couple were used to an active college town nightlife. While touring the city with a Realtor, they asked about the local restaurant scene.
"We were told…'Hey, we have have a Red Lobster' and that's it," he says.
But the community eventually won over Russi and his wife, Abby, who have two young children.
"You have to do some explorations… The more we dug, the more we learned to really enjoy the community," Russi says. "On the surface, from the outside, the community might seem kind of quiet… it's just not in your face like a major metropolis."
He understands how Rochester developed a reputation of being boring.
"Downtown shuts down at 5 p.m. unless it's Thursday and it's in the summertime. So yeah, the outsider's perspective is that this is a sleepy little town," he says.
However, these days Russi, is excited about the changes he sees happening .
"Over the last six years, we've seen a fairly aggressive and new energy level downtown. A newer sort of youth injected into the city, which has really been kind of fun. It's translating into the restaurants and other things to do around the city," he says. "There has been a pretty profound change, at least from my perspective, in the last six years."
He believes the growth of University of Minnesota Rochester campus has a lot of potential to really ignite development.
"I think 10 years from now, this will be a very different place… in a good way," Russi predicts.
To be near the water, Russi's family lives in Oronoco by Lake Zumbro. And yet Rochester is still the center of a lot of their activity. He works here in the emergency room and their oldest child attends the Rochester Montessori school.
That's why the talk about a streetcar or other mass transit being created here has him very hopeful for the future.
"That would be so cool," he says.
What would they like to see in Rochester that's not here now?
"Better shopping. CostCo was a huge improvement… ," he says. "We don't need a Mall of America, just some more higher end shops."
They have high hopes for the expansion of the Mayo Civic Center.
"That will be fabulous. I really hope that they start getting some quality concerts, entertainment packages. That is something that is definitely missing," says Russi.