'We're not just a pizza place any more'
It may have pizza as its last name, but an upcoming revamp will spotlight much more than just a slice of Italian pie at Rochester's Mr. Pizza North.
"We're not just a pizza place any more," says co-owner Jane Fultonof the restaurant at 4040 28th St. N.W. "We're making a change for the future. We're not looking back."
A major remodeling project that includes adding a new wine bar makes that obvious.
Expect a bar in the central part of the restaurant with seating along it for 12 as well as the addition of two new fireplaces, new lighting, upgrading all the booths and new signage outside among other things.
Fulton, who owns Mr. Pizza with her husband Mark Fulton, says the tentative plan is to introduce the wine bar sometime before Thanksgiving.
The interest in wine originated with the Fultons' daughter Heather Fulton, a chef known for her cheesecake at the restaurant.
The wine bar will expand what Mr. Pizza can offer customers as well adding events like wine tastings, Jane Fulton says.
The Fultons plan to add staff to cover the new wine bar. Currently about 30 people work there.
At a time when so many restaurants are struggling, how can Mr. Pizza North make such an investment for the future?
"We've had the best year we've ever had," she says.
And they hope this is the recipe to keep that success hot.
Deli with Russian flavor
In a fresh addition to northwest Rochester, Country Fresh Deliopened up shop in Valhalla Plazaon Sept. 23.
It is at 314 Elton Hills Drive N.W., next to Woody's Liquorand behind the recently opened Family Videostore.
Focusing on the motto "Your happiness is our happiness," Tom Heimerand his fiancee, Zoya Reynolds, are building up a deli menu.
"We're kind of baby stepping into it," Heimer says. They are trying out different menu items and retail offerings to get customer feedback.
They do, however, have plenty of lunch offerings ready to go, with Reynolds cooking up some favorites from her home country of Russia.
She is fixing up dishes like cabbage rolls, stuffed peppers and Russian meat and potato salad for the lunch crowd already. Look for Heimer to add his special deviled eggs to the mix.
They have seating for about 14 in the deli and offer take out orders.
Traditional deli sandwiches with a variety of cheeses are also available. Heimer is trying out local bakeries like the Gingerbread House and the Bread Baker for their breads and baked goods. Look for soups and salads soon.
In the meat and cheese case, they have award-winning Fancy brand cheese from Grantsburg, Wis., alongside a variety of meat offerings with an emphasis on turkey. To answer customer requests, Heimer says roast beef is on the way.
George Rowndof Braasch Commercial Real Estatehandled the deal that brought the deli into Vahalla.
• It sounds like a retail store in the southwest part of the Med City is changing hands. Have faith that I'll have more on this soon.
• Speaking of soon, talking to the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce's new political guru is on my agenda this week.
To replace the outgoing John Eckerman, the chamber recently named Julie Fieselas the director of government affairs.
Many will know Fiesel as the chamber's longtime program coordinator.