by CHRIS ROGERS
Another downtown Winona restaurant could be on its way out. Jefferson Pub and Grill is closed and up for sale, according to a realtor for the owners.
Jefferson Pub and Grill co-owner Chase Hoffman was not immediately available for comment, but the downtown restaurant was closed this week, with a for-sale posted on the building, and a social media page for the restaurant listed it as “permanently closed.”
“It is honestly going to depend on who buys it,” realtor Mitch Walch said when asked if the restaurant had closed for good. “Somebody could buy it and open it back up … I’d like to see it stay Jefferson’s of course, but it’s really going to depend on who buys it.”
Neighboring restaurant Betty Jo’s closed last year. Jefferson’s and Betty Jo’s were major parts of the downtown Winona restaurant scene for years. In public outreach efforts focused on the future of downtown, many Winonans say they want higher-quality, more diverse restaurant options, but several Winona restauranteurs have said that getting enough business to support eateries is a challenge.
Also last week, Winona County officials said the former Shopko property near Highway 14 and Highway 61 may be spoken for. The Winona Shopko store closed last year as the national retail chain filed for bankruptcy.
“A bunch of [former Shopkos] have sold across the state. There hasn’t been a peep on this one,” Winona County Assessor Steve Hacken told the County Board at a meeting last week. Hacken noted that the property is not included on popular online listings of commercial properties for sale. “So either someone has grabbed it, and it just hasn’t been, you know, recorded,” he suggested. When properties formally trade hands, those sales are publicly recorded, but sometimes companies strike purchase agreements or other deals securing a future sale that are not public information. Winona County Recorder Bob Bambenek said that could be the case. “We’ve had a countless number of people tell us that the store was sold, but we’ve had nothing come through,” Bambenek said, referring to formal records of a sale. “So I’m right there with Steve.”
The owner of the former Shopko property was not available for comment.