Former Old Country Buffet to be redeveloped

Tim Krohn
The Free Press, Mankato, MN
Date: October 31, 2016

MANKATO — The former Old Country Buffet property will be expanded and redeveloped for at least three businesses while a former restaurant downtown will get a new tenant and the River Hills Pet Care Hospital has plans to move to a new location with a lot more room.

And in downtown Mankato, an experiment called Envision Lab has closed.

Tailwind Group in partnership with Lidstrom Commercial Realtors is redeveloping the OCB site, which sits on prime property directly across Adams Street from the main entry to River Hills Mall.

“Location, location, location is what I liked about it,” Kyle Smith, of Tailwind, said of the property. Tailwind and Lidstrom have owned the property for about two years and previously leased it to OCB.

He said their success in leasing the new space relatively quickly this summer confirmed to him the site is a good one. Smith said they have three tenants for the spaces but they do not yet want to disclose names.

The project will be finished in the spring or early summer of 2017.

Smith said two of the tenants are new to the area.

Tailwind and Lidstrom plan to add 3,100 square feet to the building, completely renovate the interior and exterior and divide it into three and possibly four commercial spaces. The current building is 10,000 square feet.

Drawings for the plan, which is being reviewed by the city, show the spaces as planned will be about 2,800 square feet, 4,500 square feet and 5,500 square feet. The drawing shows two outdoor patio areas, suggesting food-related businesses in at least some of the space.

They will also reconfigure the parking lot adding 10 stalls for a total of 129.

OCB was closed abruptly in June after the chain shuttered 92 locations, part of an ongoing downsizing of the chain.

Pet hospital

River Hills Pet Care Hospital has submitted plans to the city for construction of a new building. The business has long operated out of space in Pet Expo.

The new 4,700 square-foot building would be across the street from the west side of Home Depot and between Community Bank and Sherwin Williams, according to plans submitted to the city’s Site Plan Review Committee.

River Hills Pet Care Hospital opened in 1995 and has five veterinarians. They are a full service veterinary clinic specializing in preventive care, laser surgery and dentistry. In addition to dogs and cats, they care for small mammals, reptiles and birds.

Burrito Express

The former Daisy’s Soul Food at 410 South Front St. in downtown Mankato will become a Burrito Express.

The building is owned by Shawn Clow and the restaurant will be operated by Oscar Castro.

Castro had operated the Burrito Wings restaurant near the Minnesota State University campus, which he opened in 2014, until selling it this summer.

Castro also owns the Patron Mexican Bar & Grill in Chaska.

Daisy’s Soul Food opened in January 2014 and closed in July of that year.

End to Envision

In 2015 Katie Boone opened Envision Lab in part of a building on the corner of Broad and Main streets with the idea of offering office co-space that could be rented at relatively low costs for the short term.

The lab started with the help of a $20,000 grant from the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, which believed a space for start-up businesses, telecommuters and entrepreneurs was needed.

Boone announced last week that Envision Lab has closed, saying they couldn’t afford the space.