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DULUTH - East 1st St. is often looked at as Superior St.'s rundown next door neighbor, but one Northland entrepreneur is looking to change that perception, starting with building 208.
"We always you know would look in the windows and there was that old popcorn machine in the window and it was just kind of like what's going on with that building," said Bob Monahan, president and founder of Chaperone Records.
Monahan runs the record label across the street from the ragged building.
They've produced albums for the likes of critically acclaimed Retribution Gospel Choir and country blues favorite, Charlie Parr.
Monahan had been looking for ventures to tie–in with his label, when he came across the old building with quite the history.
"The city has record of a couple different businesses. One of them was a vegetarian restaurant and the other was the Rocket Bar, which of course is probably the most noticeable," he said.
But, Monahan doesn't just plan on moving his record label across the street.
He sees the location as the perfect spot to open up an artist friendly café.
He said, "It's one of the more gnarly facades on 1st St. but I guess in that I sort of saw the potential."
Monahan hopes quality food, drink and entertainment will be the missing link to moving business from Superior St. up the hillside.
"Once you get that critical mass it starts to grow and it'll attract more foot traffic and hopefully more business," said Roger Wedin, director of policy and education for the Duluth Chamber of Commerce.
Monahan says you can expect to see everything from jazz concerts to fashion shows, but most of all, a place where anybody can feel welcome and comfortable.
"I think most people feel that the city is maybe on the upswing and that good things are going to happen. So, being a part of that is I guess a big part of the hope, but also being there for the community of artists," said Monahan.
The roof has already been replaced, but Monahan says the plan is to keep the gritty feel of the brick walls intact.
The plan is for the cafe to open its doors in September, offering brunch Friday through Sunday while also being open weekdays from happy hour until close.