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Endion Station in Duluth's Canal Park to feature a fast-casual restaurant

The Endion Station along the Lakewalk in Canal Park will become a restaurant this summer with craft beer on tap and picnic-to-go food. The deck will be used for outside seating. (Clint Austin /

The historic Endion Station in Canal Park will see new life starting this summer when it becomes a restaurant catering to Lakewalk users.

The Endion Station Public House, as it will be called, will be a fast-casual restaurant offering craft beer on tap, sit-down eating, take out and grab-and-go options for picnics.

Embracing the 115-year-old building’s beginnings as a small train depot, the establishment will sport a fun, railroad theme.  A deck outside will provide outdoor seating.

The goal is to open in July and to be open year-round.

It’s the latest venture for entrepreneurs Rod Raymond and Tim Nelson, who also own Fitger’s Brewhouse, Tycoons Alehouse & Eatery, Redstar Lounge and Burrito Union in Duluth.

All are housed in old buildings. And like the Endion Station, most are on the National Register of Historic Places.

“We really love the historic side of Duluth,” said Brad Nelson, Tim’s brother and a company spokesman. “It’s cool for us to go in and save these historic buildings and re-purpose them. We’re really proud of that as a company.”

Built in 1899, the stone and brick Richardsonian Romanesque building served as one of Duluth’s neighborhood passenger train stations until 1961. It was gingerly moved from the shore of Lake Superior at 15th Avenue East to Canal Park in 1986 to make way for the Interstate 35 extension. After housing Duluth’s tourism bureau and a series of tenants over the years, the city auctioned off the two-story building next to Canal Park Lodge in late 2012 to Raymond and Nelson, who had the top bid of $300,000.

Tony Boen, vice president of the Canal Park Business Association, said their plans for a fast casual restaurant will be a good addition to Canal Park.

“That’s what Canal Park is; we’re dining and lodging,” Boen said. “Hospitality is a big part of Canal Park, and more options are good. If it brings more visitors to our area, then we’re all for it.”

Moreover, it’s nice to see the old railroad terminal used again, he said.

“Empty buildings in any business district are not a good thing,” he said. “It’s a beautiful, historic building. And it’s neat what they’re doing. It’s right on the lakewalk, that’s a great opportunity.”

But much needs to be decided before Endion Station Public House can open.

Plans need to be solidified and logistics worked out before work begins to ready it for business. While Nelson said the exterior and interior are in great shape, the interior will get a paint job, kitchen equipment will be installed and a bar, furniture and decor brought in.

Then there’s the menu, which hasn’t been finalized and is undergoing taste tests. But it will include sandwiches, burgers, vegetarian items, salads and soups. Some Brewhouse offerings also will be on the Endion Station menu.

And — of course — Brewhouse beer will be sold on tap as well as other craft beers.

What’s in a name?

The Endion Station Public House will open this summer. But while the first half of the name makes sense, why call it a “public house?”

Actually, it’s a throwback to another time, as is the Endion Station itself. “Public House” is the early British term for “pub.”

But there’s another reason to use the term. The Endion Station’s sister pubs — Fitger’s Brewhouse and Tycoons

Alehouse — all will share the word “house.”

More updates on the projects by Tim Nelson and Rod Raymond:

"Brewhouse commits to 20-year lease at Fitger's"

"Old Downtown project on hold"