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Construction crews from Kraus Anderson Construction add footing for an addition to the old Burger King building, making way for the Hurricane Grill & Wings planned to open in July. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

Hurricane Grill & Wings to open this summer

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BEMIDJI — A Hurricane Grill & Wings is planned to open this summer, bringing a new player to the local restaurant scene and with it, probably some jokes about a hurricane coming to Bemidji.

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The West Palm Beach, Fla.-based restaurant franchise is apparently brave enough to enter the frozen wilds of Minnesota to open the restaurant, with a tentative opening date around the weekend of July 4.

Tripp Snyder is CEO of Bay Ridge Properties International, the franchisee that will control the Bemidji Hurricane. Bay Ridge also has a stake in the nearby Cowboy Jack’s restaurant undergoing construction near the Sanford Center, but Snyder said Tuesday the two restaurants would actually help each other rather than compete.

“They have different clientele,” he said. “Hurricane Grill & Wings is a family-oriented restaurant. Although it has ‘wings’ in the name, wings only make up about 25 percent of its food and the rest is a pretty varied menu.”

Hurricane restaurants also emphasize drink sales less than either Cowboy Jack’s or Buffalo Wild Wings, Snyder said.

The new Cowboy Jack’s and the Hurricane will harmonize in that Bay Ridge actually plans to have a bus run between the two spots and the BSU campus, Snyder said.

“Students that want to go to one versus the other can just get on the same bus and take their pick of where they want to go,” he said.

The Bemidji location will only be the second Hurricane in Minnesota, Snyder said, but the Hurricane franchise as a whole is planning a massive expansion that will more than double the amount of restaurants nationwide — and Bay Ridge is the major franchisee for all of the restaurants in Minnesota and North Dakota.

“Over the next six years, we’re going to be doing 27 additional Hurricanes,” he said. “Eventually, we’ll have about 20 restaurants in Minnesota and about 10 in North Dakota.”

Bemidji city building official Mike Miller said construction started March 28 at the former Burger King site on Paul Bunyan Drive Southeast. The developers plan to add 500 square feet of additions, including a new entryway on the west side and an expansion on the east side to make seating capacity go up to about 150 with both indoor spots and a patio, Miller said. Main contractor Kraus Anderson Construction will oversee building on the the approximately $400,000 addition, Miller said.

However, the total cost of setting up the new restaurant is more than $1 million, Snyder said. Bay Ridge will lease the property itself from Kraus Anderson long-term, but it will own all of the equipment inside the restaurant, he said.

The project was temporarily halted when the American Indian community asked developers to investigate the possibility of artifacts at the site, but it was found the ground underneath the former Burger King had already been excavated decades ago, Snyder said.

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