This past week Frogs on the Footbridge moved to a new Prentice Street location in the former River Valley Spa building.
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This past week Frogs on the Footbridge moved to a new Prentice Street location in the former River Valley Spa building."It's been a lot work," says owner, Mary Gillespie. "But we're open again."
Gillespie had long toyed with the idea of opening a Prentice Street storefront before the desire to see a revitalized downtown motivated her to become part of the revitalization itself. Renting a Prentice St. property across the way from the Pedestrian Bridge, the stores name was inspired and Frogs on the Footbridge, born.
Featuring local art, antiques, up-cycled crafts and handmade items, Gillespie says that the number of local vendors supplying merchandise has grown from around 30 in February of 2013 to over 90 today––although, "some of the vendors only have an item or two," she noted.
On any other week, the vendor increase would come as welcome news. During moving week on the other hand each vendor serves only to emphasize the enormity of the task that was ahead of her before she would be able to reopen as planned Wednesday.
Just a few months ago, Gillespie could have told you that moving was the furthest thing from her mind. But that was before she was approached by her daughter, City Councilman Sarina Otaibi about a little co-op brewery start-up called the Bluenose Gopher Brewery.
It's a long way out and there are untold amounts of work to be done, yet the six member founding board of Gillespie and Otaibi, Montevideo resident Andrew Hodney as well as locals Scott Wold, Tim Beckmann and Ryan Meehan hasn't hesitated to declare their intentions of opening a small brewpub and restaurant in 18 to 24 months. Heck, they've even purchased a building.
At this point it might seem that the physical plant ought to be the last of their concerns, but Otaibi said they loved the former location of the River Valley Spa, complete with its deck and gazebo, and that Virnig, in an effort to support the young entrepreneurial enterprise, offered the Bluenose crew a price they didn't want to pass up.
Originally, plans were to rent the space out until the co-op was ready for launch. Instead, the relocation of Frogs on the Footbridge will serve to relieve founding members of any potential financial and tenant responsibilities.
"She's doing us a huge favor right now by paying the bills while we take time to complete the business plan, solicit co-op members and perfect the brew recipes," said Otaibi of her mother.
Without such concerns, Otaibi hopes that additional focus can be applied toward the product and its development. Come spring she says the founders would like to start making inroads with the public, providing information during some sort of event, tentatively scheduled for May.
In the meantime, founding board members have made themselves available for the transition into the new space, where Gillespie says there are a few notable differences consisting mainly of a more segmented floor plan and a view of the footbridge that doesn't begin until you step onto the back deck––but nothing that she believes will keep her from liking the new spot just as well as the old.
"I'm going to make one of the rooms my 'Fall in Love with Granite Falls section," Gillespie said with an eye toward the positive. And as for the footbridge, "the view is actually better from the deck."
And so it will soon be back to business as usual at Frogs on the Footbridge. Or at least for those 18 to 24 months, after which Gillespie once again expects to be faced with another unenviable relocation situation. On the bright side, this time around things ought to be infinitely more bearable knowing that after is all said and done Gillespie can celebrate in no finer fashion than with a pint of the very best Bluenose Gopher brew.