THE DEAL TO sell the Landmark Inn, announced a few months ago, still hasn’t been finalized but it’s getting closer. The transfer of the liquor license and a few other minor details are all that need to be ironed out. Graves Hospitality, which is buying the hotel, hopes to have it done in January…or by March at the latest.
Meantime, they’re going ahead with transition plans. The Landmark’s senior managers have undergone Graves training, the corporate chef has come in to take a look at the Landmark, and Graves executives are planning changes at the Landmark’s upscale restaurant, Capers.
They won’t be specific about their plans yet, but they do anticipate a significant change in the physical layout of the restaurant, as well as in the menu and the price point.
Translation: Graves wants Capers (Will they change the name?) to be younger, hipper, more welcoming, and less expensive.
Let’s be honest. Even those of us who love the current Capers have to admit it’s a little staid and stodgy, entirely appropriate for special occasions and big budgets, but less so for the younger, on-the-town crowd who are seeking an appealing destination for food and drink.
The man who will be managing the new food and beverage operations at the Landmark is Mike Mering. He’s a local boy who’s coming home after a decade in Chicago where he’s most recently been the general manager of The Bedford, a highly-regarded “New American” restaurant.
Why the return to the U.P? He wants a lifestyle change–the outdoors, the friendliness, the ease of getting around. Yeah, we can relate to that.
A SIMILAR STORY over on Third Street.
Superior Productions, a video production house, has been bought by B.J. and Kristen Alden. They’ve renamed it Northcoast Post.
The Aldens have family here in Marquette and also downstate but for the last 15 years or so, they’ve lived in Atlanta, where B.J. worked as a producer on CNN’s Larry King Live, and in Los Angeles where he worked at FUSE, a video music channel.
Enough of the big city life, they say, enough of the glitz, glamor and insecurity.
They’ll jointly operate Northcoast Post where B.J. will produce and edit, and Kristen will be art director and graphic designer. They’ll continue to work with Superior’s local clients–weddings and such–but they’ve also lined up corporate and institutional clients from across the nation. They can offer them high end design, graphics, and animation.
The Aldens are young, talented and energetic.
And what do they like about Marquette? Life is easy here. Their home, work, and children’s school are all within blocks of each other.
Can’t really say that about Los Angeles and Atlanta.
WE SENSE A trend here.
Young people re-locating to a spot that, ten years ago, was considered too remote to offer a rewarding professional challenge.
That’s what the new Smartzone will be all about–luring young, web-savvy, high-tech entrepreneurs to Marquette with the promise of resources, counsel, and networking that might ensure success.
Next step for the Smartzone is appointing a board of directors and finding an executive director. That should come within the next few months. After that comes the push to find the smart young guys and gals with great ideas and a little bit of money.
Can high-tech and web-related businesses succeed in Marquette? Hell, yeah. Take a look at 906 Technologies, Elegant Seagulls, Stang Decision Systems, RTI Surgical, Frontier Medical Devices, Biotech Navigators, Devicepatent. com, and others.
Yes, you can make money here, and live within five minutes of where you work, and buy a nice house for under $200,000…if you can put up with five months of winter.
Making technical education sexy and appealing here.
There are too many college graduates out there with sociology and literature degrees, and heavy student debt, who can’t find appropriate jobs. You’ll see them working at box stores, selling computers and TV’s, or working as baristas at Starbucks.
The jobs simply aren’t out there for them. But there are jobs, here in the U.P, for plumbers, auto technicians, and heavy equipment operators. Jobs that can pay $50,000 a year and more, and allow you to stay here where you want to live.
That’s where the Career Technical Education (CTE) committee comes in. They got together a year ago–five of them–to get schools and colleges in the U.P. to focus more on good technical training because that’s what local companies said they wanted and needed. They had the jobs but they couldn’t find trained people to fill those jobs!
Now CTE has 19 members and about 30 companies working with them, and they’re busy.
Ishpeming High School now offers a Geometry in Construction class that has students building and renovating structures. Marquette High School will offer the same class next year. NMU offers an auto technician program that gives the students paid internships at car dealers. An HVAC program may be next.
Programs at Negaunee High School, Marquette High School and NMU offer students the opportunity to get their high school degrees while simultaneously getting college credit in clinical science or industrial maintenance, tuition free.
And these kids will find jobs and make some money, enabling them to buy their computers from those frustrated sociology majors at the box stores.
REMEMBER THE DOUG Garrison Show?
It was a slick, locally produced interview show that ran on TV6 for more than two years but then went off the air about a year ago.
Well, it’s back on Local 3, the CBS station, and Garrison, who’s talented and ambitious, hopes and thinks this time he’ll get solid support from his employer. At TV6, he had to buy the half hour of time from the station, pay all the employees and then go out and sell commercials.
At Local 3, all he has to do is produce and host the show. The station picks up the costs and sells the commercials.
The show has aired a only couple of times so far, at 6:30 pm on Sundays before 60 Minutes–a great time slot but it’s been irregular because it’s frequently pre-empted by NFL football. After football season, it should air regularly.
The UP needs locally produced shows about the UP, but they need to make money. Maybe this will work.
Oh, rumor has it that some clown from Word on the Street will be on this Sunday’s edition of the show.
(Correction: Garrison’s show aired on TV6’s sister station, Fox UP.)
CALLING ALL CONTRACTORS.
The city needs someone to build a brand new, relocated Municipal Services Center. The old one’s being torn down to make way for the new hospital.
The budget for the new building is $18 million, so if you’ve got a power saw and a hammer and some nails, you might want to put in a bid.
The city hopes to narrow it down to five companies a little later this month, then choose the builder by the end of January.
Site of the new building is still undetermined. City officials say they’ll hold a town hall meeting before they make a final decision on the site. Understandably, they don’t want to step on too many toes here in town.
A FINAL NOTE that may further help explain why big city boys and girls are fleeing to remote outposts like the Upper Peninsula.
Reporter takes his vehicle into Pomp’s Tires suspecting he needs new tires for the winter. At the very least, he’ll get them rotated.
After ten minutes, reporter is informed by Pomp’s employee that tires still have plenty of tread. No need to buy new ones.
Great. Reporter saves a few hundred bucks. So just rotate them.
Twenty minutes later, car is ready, tires are rotated. Mechanic reminds reporter to bring the car in after 50 miles to get lug nuts adjusted.
Great. Will do. The bill says $24.00.
Reporter: “Okay, how about I pay by debit card?”
Mechanic: “Oh no, it’s free. You owe nothing. You bought the tires a couple years ago so it’s free. Don’t forget about the lug nuts.”
Reporter, his wallet untouched, leaves shop thinking, Golly, we sure live in a nice community.
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