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LOCAL BUSINESS NOTEBOOK: Smoothie, sandwich shop comes to GF

A Beyond Juice fruit smoothie shop is opening this spring near Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks. Kevin Ritterman, president of Dakota Commercial and Development, which marketed the property, said the shop recently signed a 10-year lease. The ...

A Beyond Juice fruit smoothie shop is opening this spring near Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks.

Kevin Ritterman, president of Dakota Commercial and Development, which marketed the property, said the shop recently signed a 10-year lease.

The store will be located in University Station just east of Suite 49 and north of Club Tan, Curves and Jimmy Johns. Picky Girls, a clothing boutique, will open two doors down from Beyond Juice in the same strip mall, Ritterman said.

It is the first North Dakota location for the Beyond Juice chain, which has locations in 14 states including Minnesota, and is believed to be one of the first fruit smoothie shops in the state. Competitors such as Jamba Juice, Juice It Up! and Robeks have yet to come to North Dakota.

The popularity of smoothie shops has exploded in warmer climates in the U.S., such as California. Sales topped $2 billion in 2006 and are forecasted to almost double to $3.8 billion by 2011, according to market research firm Mintel International Group.

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Smoothie shops have also begun the penetration of Northern metro areas. Their presence in smaller metros, such as Grand Forks, however, has been negligible.

Beyond Juice offers shaved ice fruit smoothie concoctions in a wide selection of flavors including strawberry, banana, orange juice, blueberry, lime, raspberry, cranberry, pineapple, coconut and papaya. The store also sells sandwiches, salads, dessert and snacks.

Some of Beyond Juice's specialty smoothie combinations with vitamin and mineral mixes profess to do everything from improving energy, helping build immunity to sickness, improving memory and getting rid of hangovers.

Beyond Juice markets its smoothies as meals in a cup and claims the drinks are nutritious enough to be used as meal replacements.

Attempts to reach Beyond Juice officials for comment about the new store were unsuccessful last week.

Ritterman said Beyond Juice co-founder Morris Friedman was involved with bringing a Beyond Juice store to Grand Forks and said the company planned to look for a local franchisee to eventually take over the location.

Interest in the small strip mall near the intersection of Gateway Drive and Columbia Road is starting to pick up, he said. Talks are ongoing with three potential tenants for uses ranging from service and office to fast food, he said.

Construction on the building was completed last summer and a few tenants were lined up to open in the space, but the deals fell through, he said.

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Italian restaurant opening Tuesday

Giuseppe's Italian Ristorante will open for business on Tuesday in the E.J. Lander & Co. building next to Bonzer's on DeMers Avenue in downtown.

The restaurant will host an invitation-only pre-opening party tonight before opening for business for the first time Tuesday. The family who used to run Mama Maria's on South Washington Street is the owner.

Opening hours will be from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Owner Joey Miranda said he has not decided if he will open for lunch.

He'd originally planned to open in January, but pushed back the opening date while waiting for a part on back order to arrive.

"I'm very excited, nervous and excited at the same time," Miranda said. "So many people have been asking when we're opening and calling. It's crazy. It seems like everyone is excited."

UND prof: Stimulus package will help locals

UND economist David Flynn estimated that the fiscal stimulus package being discussed in Congress could have an economic impact of as much as $351 million for the state and as much as $32.5 million in Grand Forks County.

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Flynn, the director of UND's Bureau of Business & Economic Research, said the $32.5 million economic impact if consumers spent the entire amount right away would be the short-term equivalent to adding 290 jobs.

Flynn said it is unlikely that consumers would spend all the stimulus package right away, but he said spending on mortgage payments, credit card debt and putting it in savings accounts would support further spending and would eventually have a positive impact on the economy.

Verizon invests in N.D. network

Verizon Wireless invested more than $26 million in 2007 in improvements to its North Dakota network, including building new cell phone antennas, upgrading existing cell sites, increasing coverage area and expanding the availability of its high-speed wireless broadband network.

The improvements included adding 16 new cell sites and upgrading 52 existing cell sites.

During the last seven years, Verizon has spent nearly $130 million on improving its North Dakota network.

Nancy Clark, the president of Verizon Wireless' Great Plains Region said the company has more improvements planned for its network in 2008.

Briefly

-- Community members in Northwood, Hatton and Larimore, all in North Dakota, have formed a regional telecommunications working group to follow up on the recent Broadband Connectivity Roadmap report commissioned by the Grand Forks Region Base Realignment Impact Committee. The work group plans to compile an expanded study, mapping out telecommunications service, identifying what infrastructure is in place and what needs to be added and calculating construction and operating costs.

-- A recent North Dakota Chamber of Commerce survey of members found 71 percent of those who responded favored Measure 1, which would create a permanent trust fund using tax revenues received from oil and gas production in the state.

-- The average consumer will spend $122.98 on Valentine's Day this year with total spending topping $17 billion nationwide, according to a survey by BIGresearch for the National Retail Federation. That's a lot of roses and chocolates.

Check out Schuster's business blog at www.areavoices.com/bizbuzz .

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