Tag Archives: Downtown

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.”

Local antique shop sells treasures, shares memories

“When I first started, I was totally optimistic and thought everybody was going to love my stuff,” Hunt said. “After a few months… that wasn’t going to happen.”

by Allison Mueller

The red brick building on the corner of Main and Third Street is one of many old structures in Winona’s historical downtown. What makes this space unique is what waits to be discovered downstairs.

Along the Main Street side of the building, a steep staircase leads curious customers to a hefty door. A large red and white “A-Z COLLECTABLES” sign hangs above the entry to this hidden shop of treasures.

The creak of the door as it opens and reveals the shop’s unique contents is enough to give any antique collector goose bumps. Narrow pathways are carved throughout the basement space that holds a nine-person maximum occupancy.

To the right, past the collection of old lunchboxes suspended from ceiling pipes and an arrangement of still-packaged toy cars hanging on a wall, shop owner Neil Hunt sits surrounded by mountains of his treasures. He inspects the locks one of his regular customers, Michael, has brought in.

A-Z Collectables’ owner Neil Hunt discusses the locks and other items Michael, a regular customer, has brought into Hunt’s shop to sell to him.
A-Z Collectables’ owner Neil Hunt discusses the locks and other items, Michael, a regular customer, has brought into Hunt’s shop to sell to him.

Hunt has owned A-Z Collectables for more than 23 years, and said he looks to buy things of personal interest to add to his ever-growing collection of antiques and collectables.

“I don’t buy what I don’t like,” Hunt said. “I’ve always liked books and kitchen items, antique lighting, definitely toy cars. The stuff I really don’t want to part with I take home. I have several hundred cars here, but at home I have another couple hundred.”

Originally from Eastern Michigan, work with a natural foods bakery brought Hunt to the co-op in La Crosse two or three times a week to deliver bread. He often stopped at donation stores and yard sales in the area to acquire unique items and then sold them.

Hunt said, “A friend of mine who I was selling my pickings to, she was one of my regular dealers I sold to, kept saying, ‘If I was as old as you are, I’d open my own shop.’ And finally, I did.”

A-Z Collectables opened in 1993 in half of the street-level space where the kate + bella clothing store is. After a few years, Hunt needed more space and moved his business downstairs.

Hunt has owned A-Z Collectables for more than 20 years in downtown Winona.
Hunt has owned A-Z Collectables for more than 20 years in downtown Winona.

“When I first started, I was totally optimistic and thought everybody was going to love my stuff,” Hunt said. “After a few months… that wasn’t going to happen.”

Hunt’s “stuff” encompasses a vast range of items including nonfiction and classic books, hand-painted pottery from the 1950s, old kitchen tools, antique lighting, games and more. There is also an entire corner of the shop dedicated to antique Winona items – bottles, toy mascots from schools, buttons and local calendar plates.

“I can probably make a collection out of just about anything you hand me,” Hunt said. “Whether it’s a collection that would be worth anything, or that anybody else would want, that’s totally up to debate.”

Hunt, who has been retired for a few years, acquired different jobs to support his buying and selling habit. The job he was at the longest was with RGIS Inventory Service, which required him to travel to western Wisconsin and southern Minnesota. He said he could only open his shop several days a week, but the days were not consistent.

Now A-Z Collectables is open weekdays from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 12:30 to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Hunt said business booms during the summer compared to winter where he “just squeaks by.”

Hunt said during summer he makes a profit. When it comes to antique shops, he said the more the merrier in terms of attracting customers.

Hunt shows Michael around the basement shop, talking about various pieces for sale.
Hunt shows Michael around the basement shop, talking about various pieces for sale.

“It’s not like antique shops compete,” Hunt explained. “We compete when it comes to buying the stuff, but when it comes to selling, you need several to attract collectors looking to buy and think this is a good town to go to and make it worth the visit.”

According to Hunt, his antique shop is one of around three left in town. He said when he started there were six or seven shops in Winona. Much of the collecting market lives online, Hunt said, with sites such as eBay and Etsy. But, in addition to tourists, there are always the regulars who stop by the store.

One of these regulars is Dale Hadler, who has been coming to Hunt’s antique shop for four years. Hadler said he occasionally brings in items to sell, but stops by a few times a week to buy items, specifically antique things made of die-cast and aluminum.

Dale Hadler holds an item of interest he found in Hunt’s antique shop and discusses with the shop owner what year the item might have been made.
Dale Hadler holds an item of interest he found in Hunt’s antique shop and discusses with the shop owner what year the item might have been made.

“Back in 2013 I moved to Winona and I was curious about this place so I came down and checked out this shop,” Hadler said. “He has a nice collection… it’s a little bit of everything.”

Hunt said he is surprised at some items that sell. He explained how years ago he had one of his largest single sales when a couple came to the shop and bought several boxes of Fire King dishes, totaling several hundred dollars. They packaged the vintage glassware and brought it back to the store they were opening in Japan.

He also recalls an instance where a buyer purchased a $10 bucket from him that ended up being an antique lard pail worth $1,000, which Hunt found out once the buyer called him back to share its worth. Hunt had mistaken the pail for an old kid’s sandbox bucket.

“What made mine unique and what threw me off, was that it didn’t say lard on it, but it had a cute little picture of a pig on it,” Hunt said. “That was one of my larger missteps, which will happen with antiques.”

Hunt said he now looks online to research the items he acquires. He will also tell people who bring in items to sell him if they are better off trying to sell their items online.

Hunt sits in the middle of his shop and updates the A-Z Collectables' Facebook page. He said he tries to stay away from online selling and uses the internet to mainly research the age and selling price of items in his shop.
Hunt sits in the middle of his shop and updates the A-Z Collectables’ Facebook page. He said he tries to stay away from online selling and uses the internet to mainly research the age and selling price of items in his shop.

“Some things will sit here for years, but on eBay, if it’s priced right, it’s gone in two weeks,” Hunt said. “I buy things on eBay, but I don’t sell. I need to, just to thin out some of my things.”

The abundance of antiques stacked and piled while strategically organized in A-Z Collectables offers a journey through history – something a buyer would not experience online.

Hunt said, “When you walk in the door here, it doesn’t take you too long and you understand the character, heart and passions of the guy that’s running it.”

Since Hunt’s retirement, he has been able to keep A-Z Collectables open with set hours during the week and on Sunday.
Since Hunt’s retirement, he has been able to keep A-Z Collectables open with set hours during the week and on Sunday.
The first room of A-Z Collectables contains used leather jackets, hand-painted glassware, board games, records, toy cars and more.
The first room of A-Z Collectables contains used leather jackets, hand-painted glassware, board games, records, toy cars and more.
Hunt’s shop holds countless books, ranging from labeled categories that include “western America,” “Minnesota writers,” “Midwest” and “other USA.” Hunt said he focuses on selling mainly nonfiction and classic books.
Hunt’s shop holds countless books, ranging from labeled categories that include “western America,” “Minnesota writers,” “Midwest” and “other USA.” Hunt said he focuses on selling mainly nonfiction and classic books.
A-Z Collectables’ owner Neil Hunt discusses the locks and other items Michael, a regular customer, has brought into Hunt’s shop to sell to him.
A-Z Collectables’ owner Neil Hunt discusses the locks and other items Michael, a regular customer, has brought into Hunt’s shop to sell to him.
Old lunchboxes hang from ceiling pipes in Hunt’s antique shop.
Old lunchboxes hang from ceiling pipes in Hunt’s antique shop.
Piles of old board games await potential players in Hunt’s antique shop.
Piles of old board games await potential players in Hunt’s antique shop.
Hunt holds a particular item for sale he’s “excited about.” He explained how the bottom of the china has printed on it MEMBER UNITED STATES CONGRESS, and he is trying to figure out how much it is worth and if this dishware was only sold to members of congress. He said this print makes the item more unique to him.
Hunt holds a particular item for sale he’s “excited about.” He explained how the bottom of the china has printed on it MEMBER UNITED STATES CONGRESS, and he is trying to figure out how much it is worth and if this dishware was only sold to members of congress. He said this print makes the item more unique to him.
Hunt explains what kind of books he has bought for his shop during its 20-plus years of business.
Hunt explains what kind of books he has bought for his shop during its 20-plus years of business.
Hunt looks through items in the corner of his shop that is made up of strictly Winona memorabilia.
Hunt looks through items in the corner of his shop that is made up of strictly Winona memorabilia.
A wall in Hunt’s shop displays numerous soda bottles. Hunt said, “I wasn’t interested in going the beer route, so I went with soft drinks. It used to be that small towns had their own bottling works, so I started collecting different soda pops.” He also explained how his collection of soda bottles is “more of a museum now,” after the housing collapse in 2008 when people stopped collecting them as much.
A wall in Hunt’s shop displays numerous soda bottles. Hunt said, “I wasn’t interested in going the beer route, so I went with soft drinks. It used to be that small towns had their own bottling works, so I started collecting different soda pops.” He also explained how his collection of soda bottles is “more of a museum now,” after the housing collapse in 2008 when people stopped collecting them as much.