Items related to businesses in and around Northfield

Just Food: success through organic, local alternatives

In a recent convocation at Carleton College, Sandra Steingraber spoke on “How Exposure to Chemical Pollutants in Air, Food and Water Violates Human Rights.”

As a toxicologist, Steingraber warned that current standards for regulating the toxins in our environment are not sufficient to protect certain vulnerable segments of society.

Joey Robison, Marketing and Member Services Manager at the Just Food Co-op in Northfield agrees, saying, “everyone should have access to organic, healthy food.”

Steingraber called attention to the devastating effect of even small amounts of toxins can have on the unborn, infants, adolescents and the elderly. These are precisely the people you’ll find at Just Food Co-op.  Mothers and their kids explore the isles, taking advantage of healthy, additive free alternatives. Also, a wide selection of gluten-free and dairy-free products help people with food allergies and hormone- and antibiotic- free meat and organic dairy products deal with some of the concerns raised by Steingraber’s lecture.

New downtown signs planned: pick your favorites

OK, we usually don't run graphics this large. But I wanted you to see the cool options Neuger Communications has developed for use in coordinating a series of signs to be used to help people get around downtown and find all the great things there.

So, which one do you like?

That's the question Randy Jennings is going to be asking people around town the next few weeks. You can get a head start by casting your vote in the comment field below.

Randy made a presentation on the sign project to the NDDC forum Tuesday, and the city could be making a decision for them to start popping up this summer.  You can read the whole report here (PDF).

How low can you go?

Penny Hillemann says she keeps her heat at 60 degrees  at night. How low can you turn yours? What are you doing to conserve energy?  Head to our forums and join the discussion -- and see what else people are talking about!

Thanks to Bright Spencer for tipping us to this information from the Xcel Energy website:

Continuing frigid temperatures and tight electricity supplies in the nation’s mid-section today prompted several major utilities serving customers in Minnesota and neighboring states to again ask customers to turn off unneeded lights and computers and to postpone using washers, dryers and dishwashers until after 8 p.m.

Downtown talkers move dangerously close to action

In what has become a regular ritual, dozens of downtown business people again took up tablets and pencils on Tuesday to write down what they know about themselves and the rest of downtown and suggest ways to improve things.

Although it wavered on the brink of another session of beating a dead horse, the sheer numbers of people attending gave it sense of urgency, of frustration, a feeling that this time people really are pushing for action. Whether that will come and when remains a question. I talked to the heads of the Northfield Area Chamber of Commerce and the Northfield Downtown Development Corp. after the meeting at The Grand Event Center and asked what the next step is.

You guessed it..."We're creating a task force."

Downtown Forum moved to the Grand

Due to the anticipated size of the turn-out for tomorrow's Downtown Forum, the NDDC and the Chamber have graciously accepted the offer of Chuck Pryor to move the event to The Grand. For anyone not familiar with downtown, the Grand Event Center is two blocks south and one block east of the Archer House at 316 Washington Street, or the corner of 4th and Washington Streets. The time remains 8 am, Tuesday, February 6th.

Downtown Northfield is fortunate to not only have such historic buildings as the 1877 Archer House and the 1899 Grand (originally the Ware Auditorium) but to have such great building owners as Brett Reese (the Archer House) and Chuck Pryor (the Grand). Thanks guys, it's your efforts, investments and generosity that help make Downtown Northfield a great place.

Happy Anniversary to Northfield Construction

Congratulations to Ray Cox and the rest of the folks at Northfield Construction Company.

The company is celebrating 35 years in business in February. If you look at the blog list at right, or just click here to read about the company's history and see some of its projects. The photo at left, shot in warmer weather, is from the company's website.

Quad’s: New name, new vision

Many of you may have noticed the recent name change of Dad’s restaurant in River Park Mall to Quad’s Bar and Grill. This marks the second name change in recent years for the location (it was Diamond Dave’s Bar and Grill before Dad’s). I chatted with Mike Hoover, the new owner and former owner of both the Ranch House and Wiggles & Wok, about the name change and about his vision of the establishment.

Mike and his wife Kari, who works at the Northfield Hospital, decided on the name Quad’s to pay homage to their four children. With a very family oriented owner, perhaps Quad’s will become more family friendly, a complaint that John Thomas had in the forums.

Though lacking the history of places like the Rueb ‘N’ Stein and the Contented Cow, Quad’s offers a very comforting environment and a healthy mix of local residents and students. Quad’s has been doing great business of late and has become somewhat of a cult favorite among students at Carleton, where many did not know of its existence before this year.

NDDC, Chamber to team up on retail issues

Well, it seems we're going to try this one more time, with a twist. The Northfield Downtown Development Corp. is going to use its monthly Tuesday morning forum to talk about retail issues...again...but this time the NDDC will share hosting duties with the Northfield Area Chamber of Commerce.  The city's Economic Development Authority has asked the two groups to work together, something that seems too obvious to mention.

The twist is that the point of the meeting is to get past just talking about problems and create a task force to take action. It would seem a task force would just be a member of the NDDC, the Chamber, EDA, the Enterprise Center and Convention and Visitors Bureau, all coordinating their efforts. And isn't that going on now?? If not, how are the groups avoiding gaps and redundancies and making sure they are using tax money and member fees most efficiently?

Movies at Southgate Cinema, Feb 2-8

Movies playing this week at the Southgate Cinema, Northfield...

Northfield expert to play lead role in new farming series

Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin will lead workshop on farming start-ups 
(Versión en Español en la Segunda Página)

Reginaldo Haslett-MarroquinA farm tour and workshop on farm management will be held at Dry Weather Creek Farm near Milan, Minnesota, on Saturday, Feb. 24, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This is the first of a series of on-farm events sponsored by the Land Stewardship Project’s Farm Beginnings® program, targeted at non-English speaking families interested in farming. The presentations at this first farm tour will be given in Spanish. The tour/workshop is free of charge and lunch will be provided.

Space is limited, and transportation may be available upon request. For more information and to sign up for the farm tour, call Amy Bacigalupo at 320-269-2105 or e-mail:

City-wide Wifi is coming... soon!

Northfield Wifi ScreenshotI just got off the phone with Nate Lyon, one of the owners of Northfield Wifi, which is a new ISP (Internet Service Provider) in town. The newsworthy part of is that they will be offering wireless internet (WiMax) for the entire town. (Five mile radius, big brick buildings, yadda yadda.)

This is a paid service, mind you, the same as cable internet or DSL offerings. This is a bit different than the free Wi-Fi Access Points around town that we list, which are intended to bring customers into local businesses. Competition and choices in this area are great for us Northfielders.

Nate will be doing this with Ted Lyons, whose name similarities are merely coincidental. Northfield Wifi will be open for business in three weeks and they're beta testing with a select group around town right now. According to Nate, "When we go live, we will be one of the fastest residential ISP's in the 5 state area, if not the US."

Community Resource Bank pledges $30,000 to YMCA

Submitted by Skip Zimmerman

Don Kuehnast (right), President of Northfield's Community Resource Bank, presented a check for $10,000 to Skip Zimmerman (left), CEO of the Northfield Area Family YMCA in a ceremony last Thursday, January 25.  The check is a payment toward a pledge totaling $30,000, targeting the YMCA's Founders Campaign. "The YMCA is incredibly grateful for this bank's continued support." said Zimmerman of Community Resource Bank.

The YMCA Founders Campaign raised money needed to equip the YMCA in its initial start-up phase.  The Northfield Area Family YMCA is a local, independent and private non-profit organization.  It will continue to rely on revenue from programs and membership to sustain the organization into the future.  For more information regarding upcoming programs, or to support growth of the YMCA, interested individuals and families may visit its website at or call the YMCA at (507) 645-0088.

Just Food Inside and Out: History and Scene...TONIGHT

Join Stuart Reid and other co-op members for an exploration of "Co-op History and National Scene" in this program -- the first of a series of five offered by the Just Food Board of Directors. The session is from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. tonight at the Cannon Valley Friends Meeting House -- 313 1/2 Division Street above Jenkins Jewlers.

The Just Food Inside and Out series will explore co-op history, philosophy, values, and nuts and bolts.

Stuart Reid is the former General Manager of Just Food Co-op and now works for the Food Co-op 500 program as a development specialist. introduces "Office Hours"

Editor's note: This story was posted earlier, so this is just a reminder to join us for coffee at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday.

No, we didn't hit the lottery and buy a swanky new office building. But building an online community doesn't just happen online.

That's why I'm busting out of my home office and heading downtown.  We're calling this experiment "Office Hours," and I'll be setting up shop somewhere each week. This Tuesday morning, from 7:30-9 a.m. I'll be at Goodbye Blue Monday coffee shop on Division Street.

Southgate Cinema Donates Rentals, Gains Lobby

The New Southgate LobbyI got quite a shock tonight as I stepped into Southgate Cinema on my way to see The Queen. Southgate has donated its entire movie and game rental stock to the Northfield Senior Center, which has plans to sell them as a fundraiser.

Southgate was kind enough to let me take a few snaps after the movies were over of their reclaimed lobby area. The manager (who's name I have regretfully forgotten) was quite nice and explained that this is how it looked 18-19 years ago before the theatre got into the rental business. She said that the lobby would be repainted and the carpets cleaned.

If you get a chance, you should stop by and check it out. It's like a different place altogether. Also, The Queen was very good, much better than I expected.

There's more inside, including a Quicktime Panorama of the lobby...

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