FOOD MARKET MIKE HUGHLETT

A Famous Dave's tie to Romano's sale

An investment group associated with Dean Riesen, former chairman of Famous Dave's, has snapped up the ailing Romano's Macaroni Grill chain for the fire-sale price of $8 million.

Riesen, an erstwhile Twin Cities businessman now based in Phoenix, was Famous Dave's nonexecutive chairman, leaving last June after a shake-up at the Minnetonka-based barbecue chain. Riesen was also a high-ranking executive at the Carlson Cos. from 1985 to 2001.

A subsidiary of Riesen's Rimrock Partners recently scooped up Macaroni Grill from Ignite Restaurant Group. Macaroni Grill has 146 locations in 33 states, including one each in Edina and Roseville.

Macaroni Grill is a well-known restaurant brand. But the Houston-based chain has been stumbling badly, its sales sinking. Ignite unloaded Macaroni Grill after buying it only two years ago for $55 million, almost 7 times its recent sales price.

John Gilbert, Famous Dave's CEO for 16 months until his abrupt departure early last year, went on to run Macaroni Grill under Ignite. He will be Macaroni Grill's chief executive under the new ownership.

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JUST LISTED KRISTEN LEIGH PAINTER

Guthrie Liner parcel proposals sought

The city of Minneapolis released a request for proposals on the much-anticipated "Guthrie Liner" parcel — a long and narrow strip of land along Washington Avenue that straddles the Mill District and Downtown East neighborhoods.

The Community Planning and Economic Development department outlined its preferences for private developers who would like to develop the site at 800 Washington Av. S.

If housing is a component, the city will favor proposals that have at least 20 percent of units set aside for individuals making less than 50 percent of the median income.

The request for proposal (RFP) suggests at least four to five stories, and a maximum of eight, with a strong street-level retail presence.

Already, the block is home to the large city-owned Riverfront Parking Ramp. City staff suggest its size could sufficiently meet the parking needs of any new development. The liner parcel is about 24,000 square feet, or about one-third of the city block.

The city doesn't specify its preferred use on the site, but said in the RFP that proposals "should contribute to this mix of activity by creating a unique place, providing services or experiences, and/or drawing in visitors, employees and/or residents."

Proposals are due to the city by May 20.

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