MANKATO – A bar and restaurant with ax throwing lanes are set to open in downtown Mankato later this summer.
At the top of the hill, near the River Hills shopping centre, a Muddy Cow grill and pub is about to open.
The Mankato Heights Plaza, where TJ Maxx and other businesses are located, has a new owner.
And the Kwik Trip of Highway 169 North is planning expansion and renovation.
Matt Ertman and Jesse Doyle are opening their third restaurant/bar ax launch location, after launching two in Oklahoma in the past two years.
It will be on the site of former BW3 then New Bohemia and is currently occupied by The Blue Boat. The space is connected to downtown Mankato Place.
Floor plans show indoor and outdoor seating on a patio in the central plaza public area.
In addition to the seats, six ax throwing lanes, a playground, a golf simulator and three darts lanes are planned.
Ertman lives in Blue Earth and runs a trucking business. Doyle, who has two more years in the Air Force, is currently based in Oklahoma.
“I’m from Amboy. We’re excited to come to Mankato. I’ve just been amazed at how Mankato has exploded over the years,” Doyle said.
They opened a JD’s Hideaway in Altus, Oklahoma, followed by another in Lawton, Oklahoma.
“We opened them during COVID, in 2020 and 2021, it’s been a wild ride, but fun,” Doyle said. “There’s a steep learning curve. We learned a lot with our first two and you’re paying the price. We paid high tuition for our learning,” he laughed.
“We’re a full-service bar and restaurant. We pride ourselves on being family-friendly, but at 8 or 9 o’clock you turn off the lights and it’s a more adult crowd,” Doyle said.
“We’re more into gourmet bar food. We have a pretty extensive menu (jdshideaway.com).”
Gordon Awsumb, manager of Mankato Place, said he was working with Julie Johnson, owner of The Blue Boat, to help him make the transition. The Blue Boat is an eco-retail art gallery, cafe and music venue.
“She really tapped into something with fine dining here. But she had two and a half times the space she needed.”
He said he was working with her to transition to providing catering service for the Mankato Playhouse dinner theater located at Mankato Place. The theater has been a successful venue, selling out multiple performances.
Johnson said his plans are still on hold.
“We’re working on a few options. My ideal location overlooks the Minnesota River, where the Blue Boat is designed to be.”
The new pub & grill will be at 1861 Adams Street, in a strip mall that was once Old Country Buffet. The building is owned by Tailwind Group.
They take the space where Buffalo Wings & Rings was. They opened in 2017 and closed last October.
Muddy Cow has several other locations in Minnesota and offers wings, burgers, wraps, sandwiches, salads and more.
Their website states that Muddy Cow Bar & Grill sources fresh ingredients from farms within 300 miles of their locations. “Locally owned and operated, always providing fresh food, 2-for-1 drinks and 32 TVs for all the sports you need.”
Mankato Heights Plaza, home to TJ Maxx, Michaels, Mainstream Boutique and several other businesses, was purchased by a group of investors led by Mankato’s Tailwind Group.
Kelly Mayo, senior director of commercial real estate for Tailwind, said the purchase includes the large building where TJ Maxx and other stores are located, as well as a smaller mall east of Panera that housed formerly Caribou Coffee, and a small building south of Panéra.
County tax records show the three buildings have a combined assessed value of more than $15 million.
Mayo said GNC will soon open in the smaller mall. He said there were two vacancies in the larger building. “We are in discussions with potential tenants.”
Kwik Trip is planning a 1,300 square foot addition to its Highway 169 store, adding to the east side of the existing 5,000 square foot building.
Addition plans show kitchen space, freezer, cooler and new display areas.
They plan to remove the existing white vinyl siding on the exterior and install new brick veneer, as well as make other upgrades to the exterior.