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Duluth to lose one of its top-performing restaurants

Another superior Lake Superior dining destination is calling it quits.

Following on the heels of the October demise of Wild Rice in Bayfield, Wis., Duluth restaurateurs Eric and Lynn Goerdt have announced that they’re closing their Northern Waters Restaurant. (That’s Eric in the restaurant, pictured above, in a Star Tribune file photo).

Located in the city’s Mount Royal neighborhood, the restaurant opened in March 2016 as a more ambitious sibling to the couple’s wildly popular Northern Waters Smokehaus, a deli and sandwich shop in the city’s Canal Park district. Not to worry: Northern Waters Smokehaus, located in the DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace, isn't going anywhere.

The restaurant’s last day will be December 31st. Although it was open for less than two years, the restaurant's impending demise represents a huge loss to Duluth’s expanding culinary scene (that's the dining room's communal table, pictured above; it's surely the state's longest). From the day it opened, Northern Waters’ eclectic menu, skilled cooking and charming, vaguely Nordic Modern setting made it a must-visit experience.

“This has been such a rewarding and creative process,” said Eric Goerdt in a statement. “We’re continuing to grow at the Smokehaus with our expanding delivery service, catering and mail order. Last December, we sent to every state in the country — it’s clear this needs our full attention to represent the region well.”

The space will not remain dark for long. Another unnamed, locally operated restaurant will take over shortly after the new year. (That's the kitchen's crisped pork belly with polenta, a soft-cooked egg and a green chile sauce, pictured above in a Star Tribune file photo). 

Anyone holding gift certificates to the restaurant can also redeem them at Northern Waters Smokehaus.

The restaurant's staff was informed of the decision on Sunday night, and Goerdt said that the news was greeted with both sadness and as a challenge.

“They want to go out with a bang, making the next few weeks absolutely the best for customers in terms of food and service,” he said in a statement. “I am incredibly touched by this.“

Dinkytown's Espresso Royale to close after almost 30 years



After nearly three decades, a beloved Dinkytown coffee shop will shutter.

Espresso Royale, one of three of the regional chain’s Minnesota outposts, will close later this month due to ongoing deterioration of the building and managerial shortages.

The other two Minnesota locations – in St. Paul and downtown Minneapolis – will close as well.

“This has sort of been a home away from home for me,” said manager Darien Berghoff. “It’s pretty sad. But things happen and you just move forward.”

Opening in the late 1980s, the Dinkytown coffeeshop drew a loyal following and has maintained a bustling atmosphere since.

But the constant need for repairs to the old building made upkeep difficult, and after the Minnesota shops’ two managers put in their notice to leave, the Michigan-based company decided to call it quits. The leases for all three locations are also expiring.

“It was a very complicated decision,” Berghoff said. “We were trying to keep up with the times with renovations and new things to keep it looking spiffy, but in the end it was just too hard. You’re not managing a coffee shop, you’re managing a building that’s falling apart.”

Through it all, the Dinkytown Espresso Royale continued to thrive financially. Initially, the company planned to keep that location open, because of its profitability, while closing the other two.

“Dinkytown has been one of the biggest moneymakers,” Berghoff said. “It has nothing to do with money.”

Berghoff said she expects all three shops to close in late December, although there is no exact date yet. Since word leaked, she said regulars have been pouring out their love for the campus haunt.

“Every day people come in telling us how sad they are,” Berghoff said. “One couple told us they met here 20 years ago. Now they have kids that go to the U and they come here. There have been co-workers that started dating here. It’s not just a coffee shop, it’s a community.

“It's so strange that you can cultivate a small-town feel in a coffee shop in a big city, but that’s the way it was.”

Espresso Royale has 16 other locations in Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois.

(Photo via Espresso Royale Facebook)

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