Panino’s Restaurant grand opening set for September

Patrons at the North Oaks, Minn., Panino’s suggested opening a location near campus.

by Diane White

Seating-capacity regulations continue to hold up the grand opening of Panino’s Restaurant near the University campus.

Joann Kurtz owns Panino’s with her husband Chet. She said the city of Minneapolis approved their restaurant plans, but city officials then said the amount of seating planned for the restaurant required two exits.

“We’re not too happy. Ö It’s an expensive proposition,” she said. The projected cost is $24,000 to redo the entryway and add another door, Kurtz said.

Joann Kurtz said the couple are now shooting for Sept. 10 as a tentative opening date. Prior to the discrepancy between the city and owners, Panino’s was expected to open in June.

“Believe me, it’s not our fault. Ö It has been a big fiasco,” the 15-year business owner said.

The couple’s interest in opening a near-campus restaurant stems from patrons’ suggestions, Joann Kurtz said. The other Panino’s location is in North Oaks, Minn.

John Trautz, a partner in Reliance Development Company, L.L.P. and landlord of the Stadium Village building in which Panino’s is located, said he hopes it can get up and running as soon as possible.

“The city of Minneapolis is a hard place to get a permit,” he said, especially for a restaurant.

Food service requires more stringent standards, Trautz said, making another location a major undertaking for private owners.

He said it was a different story for Caribou Coffee and Darque Tan, the other two tenants in the building.

Trautz explained Caribou Coffee has its own contractors, architects and a preconceived design, and Darque Tan only needed some additional electricity and cooling work to start up.

While the Panino’s delay mostly affects its owners, Trautz said, as a landlord, it’s beneficial to have a full building open and operating particularly when dealing with the retail world.

“We want (Panino’s) to be successful Ö and making money,” he said.

Though the state of things has seemed dismal at the Panino’s location in Stadium Village for the past few weeks, things are beginning to pick up.

A new sidewalk closure sign signifies necessary construction has begun.

Plans to remove the trash bin taking up parking spots near the building are also underway, Trautz said.

Asia Saleh, Darque Tan’s manager, said the garbage bin has not been bothering their business so far.

Saleh said she believed the bin was being used for construction next door at Panino’s, though she was unsure since she hadn’t met the owners.

She wasn’t the only one in the dark.

Jim Rosvold is president of the Stadium Village Commercial Association.

“I don’t know what’s going on there,” he said.

Rosvold said has never met any of the Kurtz family or seen them at meetings.

While some new tenants stop into a business association meeting to introduce themselves to the others, many don’t, unless they’re seeking approval for a liquor license, Rosvold said.

Though the association doesn’t have the authority to issue such a license, it does have some pull. Sometimes the association can write a letter to the city, on the new tenant’s behalf, Rosvold said.