Grizzly's sets sights on Duluth's Canal ParkGrizzly’s Wood-Fired Grill is expanding in the Twin Ports by adding a third restaurant in the former Hell’s Kitchen location in Canal Park.
By: Candace Renalls, Duluth News Tribune
Grizzly’s Wood-Fired Grill is expanding in the Twin Ports by adding a third restaurant in the former Hell’s Kitchen location in Canal Park.
With a deal reached Friday, plans are to open at 310 S. Lake Ave. in mid-May.
Starting up another restaurant was a no-brainer for Rick Lampton, Grizzly’s local managing partner who runs the Twin Ports Grizzly’s.
“We had our best business year ever last year in both locations,” said Lampton, who opened both the Grizzly’s in Superior and in the Miller Hill area of Duluth about 15 years ago.
He attributed the stellar year to menu changes featuring their wood-fired rotisserie chicken and more fresh-cut steaks, as well as upgrading their service and their business plan.
“We had been looking at Canal Park for a while,” he said. “We like the atmosphere down here. There’s always a buzz and more happening. It seems to be the event center of the Twin Ports, and we wanted to be a part of it.”
Moreover, the Hell’s Kitchen site was available. The restaurant, which had renamed itself HellBurgers about six months earlier, closed in September 2010, after three years of business. Its owners cited high rent coupled with a down economy that was hurting the restaurant industry.
“Let’s go for it” was Lampton’s thinking about the site.
After a month of negotiations, a 10-year lease was signed Friday with property owner Sherman Associates, Lampton said.
Besides the space vacated by HellBurgers, Lampton is leasing an adjacent 2,000-square-foot space that previously housed an antique mall. The resulting 7,000-square-foot space will be the largest Grizzly’s in the Twin Ports. It also will employ more people — 70 to 80 workers, compared to 50 to 60 at the other two Grizzly’s restaurants, Lampton said.
It’ll be the 13th Grizzly’s restaurant in Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota.
On Monday, workers were already at the Canal Park site, getting started on the renovations. The space still sports some of the black walls and orange and green lights from its days as Hell’s Kitchen.
“It will be a little bit more modern,” Lampton said of the finished look. “We’ve gotten away from cluttered walls with antiques. When you come in here, you’ll see and smell the rotisserie cooking. People can watch the cooking as they’re waiting to be fed.”
But a big challenge remains: the site’s lack of off-street parking.
City ordinance does not require restaurants in Canal Park to provide off-street parking, although hotels and motels and residential buildings with more than 10 units must.
Still, most restaurants in Canal Park provide some off-street parking, including Grandma’s Saloon & Grill, Red Lobster, Timber Lodge, Old Chicago, Green Mill, Famous Dave’s and Lake Avenue Cafe.
A lack of off-street parking provides an extra challenge for a restaurant’s success, said Tony Boen, vice president of the Canal Park Business Association.
“It’s always an issue,” said Lampton, who said he’s looking into leasing some nearby hotel parking for Grizzly’s.
While large lots serve the eastern and southern portions of Canal Park, the part where Grizzly’s will open is short of parking.
“There needs to be more parking or better use of the parking we do have down there right now,” Boen said.
A parking commission being formed by the city will look into the problem, including the possibility of building a parking ramp so businesses can come in and have enough parking, he said.
“When the commission and a parking manager gets put in place, we hope we can start on a comprehensive plan to improve the situation down there,” Boen said.