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Bemidji seeing business boom

Bemidji is welcoming fall with a few new businesses, expansion of an existing business and the relocation of another.

City Planner Curt Oakes on Tuesday provided updates on several construction projects in the city.

-- Thinking Arby's? You'll have to wait a few more months, but the fast-food chain is set to soon open an Arby's Restaurant in Bemidji.

Oakes said a permit was issued to Arby's last week and the company broke ground for the restaurant on Monday.

Arby's will be located on Paul Bunyan Drive Northwest across from the Bemidji Chrysler Center. A white and red sign is now positioned at the site of the future restaurant.

Oakes said the city has been working with Arby's for "a number of months" regarding its new location. He expects Arby's to open in a few months.

A call to Arby's representatives in Atlanta was not immediately returned on Tuesday.

-- Lakes Sports Shop is about to get a whole lot bigger.

Neil Brown, who owns the business along with Romann Lyons, said the business will go from having 2,400 square feet to more than 5,000 square feet once the expansion is complete.

"We definitely wanted to have more room, but most importantly, we wanted to grow," Brown said.

Lakes Sport Shop, 119 Paul Bunyan Drive N.W., has been at its current location for 10 years, Brown said.

Customers, he said, have been supportive of the business while construction is ongoing.

"We're getting a fabulous response," he said. "It's exciting."

Construction is expected to be complete by Nov. 1, Brown said.

-- The former gas station at 15th Street Northwest and Bemidji Avenue North is being renovated.

Owner Rich Siegert said the existing building was renovated and will host three tenants once complete.

One tenant will be Erbert & Gerbert's, a Wisconsin-based sub sandwich chain that offers sub and club sandwiches named after fictional characters.

Founders Kevin and Beth Schippers developed sandwiches based on the childhood stories Kevin's father, David Schippers, told of two boys, Erbert & Gerbert Herbert. Each sandwich is named after a fictional character the boys met as they traveled through time and space learning a little about history and science. For instance, it offers sandwiches such as The Halley's Comet, The Tullius (named for a 9-year-old boy who saved the boys from the lava of Mt. Vesuvius in Pompeii) and The Narmer (named for a young Egyptian worker whose job was to dust the great pyramid at Giza and clean the treasures in its tomb).

Gabe Carlstrom with Erbert & Gerbert's said the sub shop, which will be 2,000 square feet, is expected to open in mid-October.

Erbert and Gerbert's has gone from having 20 stores to more than 40, he said. Other Minnesota locations include downtown Minneapolis, Eden Prairie, Duluth, Mankato and St. Cloud.

"They're popping up all over," Carlstrom said.

-- The new car wash at Washington Avenue South and Roosevelt Road Southeast is nearing completion, Oakes said.

The car wash that previously was on the site was torn down and will be replaced with a new car wash that will wash cars, trucks and pets. Pets, such as dogs, will be able to go inside a tub and their owners will have all the necessary chemicals and toiletries to cleanse them.

Owner Doug Underthun previously has said the car wash is expected to open in September.

-- Acme Rents is planning to demolish its existing building at 2015 Highway Ave. N.W. and rebuild on its site, Oakes said. Both phases of construction are expected to occur sometime next year, he said.

-- Park Avenue Laundry on Paul Bunyan Drive Northwest is moving.

The laundry facility is relocating to 30th Street Northwest and Hannah Street Northwest, Oakes said.