Lake City restaurant to open doors in Winona

Traveling from one river city to another, Lake City’s Nosh Restaurant will move to downtown Winona in three months.

Nosh first opened its doors in June 2004 in Wabasha, Minnesota. Greg Jaworski, owner of Nosh Restaurant, moved to their current Lake City, Minnesota location in April 2007.

With almost a dozen years experience in Lake City, the Jaworski family initially looked at the lot formerly occupied by Godfather’s Pizza in Winona, but finalized their plans to open their restaurant on the corner of Walnut and Second streets.

Construction continues on the soon-to-be Nosh location on the corner of Second and Walnut streets in Winona.

“We were approached by people from the city of Winona who had private investors behind them,” Jaworski said. “We loved the community in Lake City, but winters were too long, and when we were contacted we ended up deciding to make the move.”

Pat Mutter, executive director of Visit Winona, was one of the people involved in the process of bringing Nosh to Winona.

“I am part of a group that has been working on trying to talk to people about what kind of restaurant they want in town or what is missing and what’s needed,” Mutter said. “Nosh came about from checking with certain chefs and passing word along that we’re trying to get restaurants in town. It was great that it turned out that (Jaworski) was interested, and we were very happy to go along that path.”

Though Jaworski was initially approached to bring Nosh Restaurant to Winona, Mutter said Visit Winona does not always approach companies to relocate to Winona. Mutter continued by saying the mission of Visit Winona is to market and promote Winona as a destination.

“When we talk about great things in Winona, one thing we hear about is having more restaurants. We have a very good selection of casual restaurants in town, but we’re working with corporate businesses who are looking for places to bring their clients and more places you could actually sit down and have a different experience,” Mutter said.

Mutter said even though they are working on bringing more businesses to town, this does not mean they no longer care about current Winona businesses.

“We want to support restaurants in town, we just want to make and give value to customers to have as many choices and variety as possible,” Mutter said. “We don’t usually go out, but when we travel the question is always there, what kind of restaurants do they have? People are always looking for something local, and more variety is better for residents and people who come to town. The more choices we have, the more hope we have of them staying in town to eat.”

Mutter said one of the main reasons they approached Nosh was due to their current brand.

“Nosh has a great reputation, and it will be great to have them here as a destination restaurant,” Mutter said. “They are a known and popular product. They will bring loyal customers with them.”

With construction underway, Jaworski said they plan to open their Winona location in June, while keeping the Lake City location open until a few weeks before the Winona location opens.

In between closing the Wabasha location and opening the Lake City location, Jaworski said there was about a week when neither location was open. Jaworski said this time the transition might take a bit longer.

“We expect to be in Lake City until May, then shut down and take two or three weeks to prepare for Winona and do it correctly from day one,” Jaworski said. “The trip from Lake City to Winona is much longer than Wabasha to Lake City, so it will take us longer to move everything to this location than it did for the last move.”

With construction a few months from completion, Jaworski said not much will be changed, but certain aspects will be improved.

“It would be foolish to try to tweak what has been successful, changing wasn’t the aim of bringing Nosh here,” Jaworski said. “Continuity of our existing reputation will just shift to Winona. There will be slight tweaks, a larger grill, and focusing more on what’s trending, woodfire, smoke, fresh breads. There will be improvements, but I don’t like the word ‘changes.’”

An improvement to the bar area is one other aspect Jaworski is planning.

“We will be trying to take a more modern approach to the bar program,” Jaworski said. “We will be redesigning the bar, and hope to focus more on that and trends. Status quo is the goal.”

Along with slight changes to the restaurant itself, Jaworski described how the change in location will affect the environment of the business.

“It’s kind of interesting, Lake City is right on top of the Mississippi and the sailboat arena, all with a stunning view of the midwest,” Jaworski said. “The new location is more focused inward in Winona, there’s not a whole lot to look at, which will make what’s on the plate or in the glass more important. It will be challenging to be focused solely on what we’re providing as opposed to the benefit of the view.”

Tom Wynn, the business manager of Nosh, spoke about another one of the challenges Nosh might face when transitioning to Winona.

“I think one thing that’s going to be a challenge is workforce,” Wynn said. “Although we have a much broader pool here in Winona than Lake City, it’s still a challenge to find qualified servers and workers.”

It will not all be challenges, as Wynn also talked about aspects he is excited for during the move.

“There’s so much going on in downtown Winona, I think our timing is going to be excellent to take advantage of the new apartment buildings, Fastenal coming down, and I think we’re going to give Winona something that they’ve needed for years and years,” Wynn said.

Though the company will face challenges, Jaworski said he is excited for the new location.

“There’s more people to appeal to in Winona, there is a niche that isn’t quite being hit on,” Jaworski said. “We’re not fine dining, not trying to compete with Signatures, but we have a nicer feel than some of the existing restaurants, with an emphasis on locally-sourced food.”

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