Giovanni's Pizza restaurant is operating with a new partnership.
Tom Hofius, owner of the Last Turn Saloon in downtown Brainerd, purchased a 50 percent interest in Giovanni's nearly four months ago for a partnership with Giovanni's owner Thor Thorson. The restaurant was owned and operated solely by Thorson, and his wife Kimm, who sold the half interest.
Hofius said plans for the restaurant include a Saturday night buffet from 5-8 p.m., which started about a month ago. Future goals include additions to diversify the menu, including chicken wings and hoagie sandwiches.
Eighty-five percent of the business remains with pizza. Competing with pizza operations that focus on delivery is a competitive challenge, Hofius said, adding Giovanni's competes by including entire menu deliveries of salads and pasta. About 60 percent of the overall business comes from delivery.
Long-term goals for the restaurant include looking at satellite locations for business expansion in small markets such as Staples and Crosby. Giovanni's location on Oak Street near downtown Brainerd has been a good one, although the restaurant appears to have little room for expansion there.
Hofius said the restaurant has significant recognition there from the high traffic on nearby South Sixth Street and from about 14 years of doing business at the location. The YMCA expansion across the street is also something Hofius said is expected to be positive for the restaurant.
Hofius said he also believes Brainerd's south side will be an area of expansion, from business to homes and Giovanni's location offers an alternative to a trip to the Baxter strip.
Hofius, former owner of The Cabin in Merrifield, said he became friends with Thorson and the current partnership evolved. Thorson's time was also taken up with frozen pizza distribution, Hofius said.
"It just seemed like a good opportunity for me," he said.
Esser's Warehouse Liquors, with two locations -- one on Washington Street in Brainerd and one on Dellwood Drive North in Baxter -- has new owners as of Thursday. Sale of the business was official Thursday.
Area businesses continue to be generous with volunteer efforts. Lakewood Bank, with five area offices, joined a community project with Crow Wing County Child Protection to put together hygiene products and basic school supplies. The Kid Kare Kits are used for children placed in foster care, at area schools, at the Baxter Youth Shelter and PORT Group Homes.
Engineers from USAquatics from Plymouth talked to people in Little Falls about an outdoor family aquatic center with slides, fountains and concessions.
The same group spoke to Brainerd officials in 2000 about an outdoor aquatic center in "the hole" along 13th Street Southeast just off Washington Street as it moves past Franklin Junior High School.
John Hammerlinck, Little Falls Community Partnership project coordinator, presented the idea at a Little Falls City Council planning session. The partnership is funded by the Blandin Foundation. Council members were enthused enough about having more to offer the community's youth that they hired the engineers to prepare two or three options for the center, the Morrison County Record reported.
Meetings were expected to be planned in Morrison County to provide information on the project and get comments from the public. Earliest consideration for construction included the possibility of the spring of 2002.
Trocano Italian Restaurant in Crosby has a new name -- Mancini's La Familia. Owner John Mancini said the new signs may take a couple of weeks before they are installed, but the name change officially began Wednesday.
"Nothing has really changed but the name," Mancini said. Some new recipes will be added but the restaurant will also retain its original menu.
Spring must be closer than the calendar may relate as the Dairy Queen on Washington Street opened earlier this month, meaning blizzards may already come in a cup. In other Dairy Queen news, Ed Tanner sold his Dairy Queen in Little Falls to Doug and Laurie Veillette.
A new Web site is set to offer searchable job listings among other items. The Brainerd Lakes Area Chambers of Commerce launched a new Web site -- www.explorebrainerdlakes.com -- to offer information to area visitors or businesses.
The site includes an online vacancy search of chamber member properties, recreation rentals and area attractions. It also includes a searchable calendar of area events, which was accomplished through a partnership with the Nisswa, Pequot Lakes and Pine River chambers.
This April, the Web site is expected to include expanded job listings, detailed neighborhood information on area communities, volunteer opportunities
In a hat tip to the area's golf mania, there is an independently marketed site available at www.golfbrainerdlakes.com.
Going online and using key words to search for Brainerd will produce a wealth of Internet information about the area and can be an eye-opener even for long-time residents about what kinds of businesses and opportunities are in the region.
A business consultant is available to the Little Falls area, the chamber of commerce reported. Mark Steigel, consultant from the St. Cloud Small Development Center, is available in Little Falls twice a month to provide free, confidential counseling to business people, especially those interested in starting a business.
About 91,120 Minnesota workers would get a raise if the federal minimum wage were raised from $5.15 to $6.65 an hour, according to a report by the Economic Policy Institute. The Minnesota Budget Project, an initiative of the Minnesota Council of nonprofits, released the information this month.
The MBP reports that despite a common misconception, 68.2 percent of workers on minimum wage are adults and not teenagers. The institute's report noted that women, blacks and Hispanic workers are helped to a greater percentage by an minimum wage increase.
The report estimated that a worker would need to make $6.80 per hour in a full-time job in order to raise a family of three to the 2000 poverty line through earnings alone.
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