Biz Buzz: Construction crews continue on projects

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Crews on Friday were working in the rain on the roof of the new Thrifty White Pharmacy by Hardee's in Brainerd and the new Northwoods Crossing development building is also moving quickly from skeletal structure to a complete exterior by Menards in Baxter.

And as fall approaches, the many area street projects will also near completion, or at least completion of initial phases, making driving a little easier through both cities. Cub Foods in Baxter, the strip mall with Boomer Pizza and the Holiday station and convenience store as well as the other businesses in the area have street access as work continues on creating new parking areas from the now vacated section of Edgewood Drive after it was relocated farther west.

The Brainerd Animal Hospital has a new owner as Dr. Ryan Dutton, veterinarian, purchased the veterinary practice from long-time owner Dr. Gary Lippo.

Dutton, St. Michael, has been practicing in Grand Rapids. He attended college in North Dakota Lippo is retiring after practicing in Brained since 1990. In a written statement he said he appreciated his customers' loyalty and serving the community for the past 28 years.

Red House Media, Brainerd, announced this month it was rebranding itself after 15 years and has a new name in Strateligent representing the company's efforts in strategic growth through intelligent design.

Olive Garden's 850 restaurants, including the one in Baxter, is participating in the 17th consecutive year with a special thank you to first responders in the area. Olive Garden will deliver and serve lunches to a first responder organization on Labor Day.

It's state fair time and that means our local state fair vendor—Fried Fruit on a Stick, owned and operated by the Helmer family—with their colorful food stand is back in action, including the fried cream-cheese stuffed olives.

Carol Helmer recently noted their creation was featured on the Food Network's Best Food on a Stick list.

The family, in a news release, said working the state fair scene from Wisconsin to Minnesota with their deep-fried, skewer-focused concession stand has been family-run for more than 30 years.

"Inspired by daughter Alison (second generation) and her successful experiment of dropping a handful of grapes in the fryer, the business has only battered up to include apples, bananas, strawberries, peaches, pineapples and pears, dipped in batter and rolled in powdered sugar. And while not as obvious a sell as their previous pie-like concoctions, adding cream cheese-stuffed olives into the mix into 2013 also proved a winning maneuver."

Their offerings include bacon-wrapped olives, jalapeno olives, fruit smoothies and fresh fruit cups.

Thank you to the readers, family and friends who voted in our Best of Brainerd Lakes contest. It was fun and engaged the community. Hopefully, it attracted attention for many of the companies doing good work here and the nonprofits providing essential services to our communities. We'll be publishing a magazine with the winners in October so readers will have a chance to learn a little more about the honorees in the 117 categories.

I had the honor to be voted No. 1 for best newspaper columnist and—inexplicably to me to be even nominated in this category—came in second for local celebrity behind a rather famous individual.

I credit the vast majority of that to decades in this job and to the following Biz Buzz attained over the years since I brought the idea up of starting such a column to my then boss, editor Roy Miller. He gave it his blessing and it was a way to try to keep up with all the activity in a booming, pre-Great Recession, lakes area. Remember those years? The economy was red hot. And we've heard from business owners who are using those terms again to describe the current economy. We'll have more about that and highlight a number of intriguing businesses in our upcoming Progress Edition on Labor Day.

Thank you for reading the Dispatch, this column and for voting. It's humbling and is all very much appreciated.