Valentini’s Moving from Duluth to Hermantown; Restaurant Assoc. Pres. Concerned Why

Association President says high taxes and fees is making it harder to run a restaurant in Duluth, one of the reasons why Valentini's moved.

DULUTH, Minn- Valentini’s Restaurant is preparing to move from its location on London Road to a permanent spot off Miller Trunk Highway in Hermantown.

Valentini’s operated on London Road for the past 13 years, and will remain open through September. But one reason for leaving is what the owner called the increased financial difficulty of running a restaurant in the city of Duluth.

“I say I’m juggling a lot of meatballs right now, because I have other places to take care of,” owner Carol Valentini said. Her deli downtown will remain open.

Getting a smaller venue is one reason why Valentini is moving her Italian Restaurant up the hill.

“I’m an entrepreneur by nature, I like to make things happen,” she said.

She isn’t stopping at having a new location–other changes are on the business’s horizon.

“We ultimately are going to punch through the space next to me here and create a nice rustic wine bar and some dinner seating and a larger production kitchen.”

But another factor that caused the relocation is what she calls the increased financial burden of owning a restaurant in Duluth.

According to the President of the Duluth Local Restaurant Association, she’s not alone.

“We work on very thin margins and all of us have experience in the last few years, between tax increases and fee increases that have been placed upon us, costs that we just can’t quite keep up with all the time,” Tony Bronson said.

New ordinances and fees that took effect at the beginning of the year are taking a toll on business owners, Bronson said.

“We’re seeing property tax increases of over 30% and up to 40%, we’re seeing utility fees going up, we’re seeing healthcare costs going up–all these costs going up can make Duluth a challenging place to be sometimes.”

He said this is causing more restaurants, like Valentini’s, to look at moving elsewhere.

“I know a lot of restaurants in town are feeling the pinch of these additional fees, of the additional costs that are coming down on us,” said Bronson.

“Carol was starting to experience some of those things and was forced into a decision I know she didn’t want to make, but one that she felt like she was forced into.”

But that didn’t stop Valentini from paving her own way.

“I will not allow certain circumstances to dictate what happens to me in the future,” she said.

But leaving behind her customer base she’s built up on London Road for over a decade will be hard.

“It’s going to be extremely bittersweet to me,” she said.

“My biggest concern right now is making sure all of the customers and all of the people who’ve patronized our restaurant are taken care of.”

But Carol’s homemade pasta, and hospitality, are still only a couple minutes away over the hill.

“We’re family owned, independent and I like to treat people like they’re part of my family,” Valentini said.

“So that’s what they’ll find when you come here.”

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