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Farley’s Grill aims to fill burger niche in downtown Duluth

The award-winning Adolph’s Bacon Ranch Burger is a specialty at the new Farley’s Grill in downtown Duluth. (Bob King / / 4
Elizabeth Trumpold, co-owner of Farley’s Grill at 220 W. Superior St. in Duluth, stays busy serving lunchtime fare at the restaurant on Thursday afternoon. (Bob King / / 4
Kevin Smart, a server at Farley’s Grill, 220 W. Superior St. in Duluth, helps a customer with an order during lunch on Thursday afternoon. Black-and-white pictures of Duluth and local shipping from the late 1880s and early 1900s are featured on the wall. The Duluth theme soon will include modern images by local artists and photographers to show how Duluth has changed. (Bob King / / 4
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People still talk about the legendary burgers served up at Mr. Nick’s, a fixture in downtown Duluth for years.

But Kelly Trumpold — co-owner of Farley’s Family Restaurant in Hermantown — says he’s bringing great burgers back to the old Mr. Nick’s space at 220 W. Superior St.

He opened Farley’s Grill there two weeks ago. Its home-style menu includes Farley’s award-winning burgers, along with paninis, gyros and other sandwiches, soups, salads and breakfast served until 11 a.m. Pizza will be added to the menu beginning June 1.

And while Farley’s burger prices — most are about $10 with fries — may be more than many other diners, a big burger at Mr. Nick’s Famous Charburgers went for a then-hefty $6 and some change nearly 20 years ago. And customers at Nick’s — pun intended — ate them up.

It’s the second restaurant for Trumpold, 40, and his wife, Elizabeth, 32. The couple opened Farley’s Family Restaurant — using his grandmother’s surname — in Hermantown in 2011. By 2013, they were making a profit and ready to expand with a location in downtown Duluth.

“I have a lot of friends who work downtown and who keep telling me to bring my pizzas downtown,” said Trumpold, whose pizza was deemed the Twin Ports’ best in 2013 and 2014 in the Townsquare Media Pizza Showdown. “We have some good restaurants downtown, but they were lacking in that west end of downtown.”

Trumpold saw a niche to fill and started looking for a site.

Meanwhile, Z’s Deli & Restaurant — which had operated in the old Mr. Nick’s space for the past two years — closed two  months ago when owner Zeidan Zeidan became too ill to continue operating the restaurant.

When the business was put up for sale last month, Trumpold didn’t waste any time. The restaurant was listed for sale on Craigslist a few Sundays ago. Trumpold looked at it that night and bought it the next day.

“I looked at six places downtown,” he said. “This is the one that worked out the best. It already had the kitchen and the grill and required a lot less remodeling.”

A new lease worked out with building owner Nick Patronas — Mr. Nick himself — commits them to 7½ years, Trumpold said.

“It’s a good spot for where I want to be,” he said.

While a series of restaurants have operated at the site since Mr. Nick’s closed for good in 2002, Trumpold is trying out a new strategy.

He’s staying open late some nights to focus on evening food deliveries, especially pizza,  for nearby bars and hotels.

“There’s a bar crowd business that’s out there,” he explained. “Nobody’s been bold enough to stay open west of Lake, which closes at 3 or 4 p.m.”

He said he’s talked to several bars in the area that are looking for somebody to deliver food to their bars.

“So I’m going to do that,” said Trumpold, who plans to start the delivery service in two weeks.

For starters, Farley’s Grill is open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays through Wednesdays and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. After two months, they’ll adjust hours as needed.

While the Farley’s Grill menu is similar to the Hermantown Farley’s, there’s one big difference.

No Coney hot dogs are served downtown, which has two Coney Island restaurants.

“We’re trying to honor our neighbors,” Elizabeth Trumpold said. “We don’t want to step on people’s toes when we move downtown. A Coney is only 1½ blocks away.”

As a replacement, Farley’s Grill offers Chicago hot dogs downtown.

When hiring is complete, they’ll have about 20 employees downtown, compared to 15 in Hermantown, Kelly Trumpold said.

So far, the downtown Farley’s is doing well.

“It’s been really busy,” he said. “We’ve had a good response.”

Moreover, he thinks their downtown restaurant will do better than their Hermantown one.

“It’s neck and neck already,” he said.