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Launched in 2014 by journalist Sean Baker, Med City Beat is an independent news source covering government, business and culture in Rochester, Minnesota.

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Rochester's 'Castle' rolls out the red carpet

Rochester's 'Castle' rolls out the red carpet

Residing within the newly-refurbished halls of Rochester’s historic Armory building, the Castle Community project is preparing to open its doors to the public. Proposed over a year ago, the Castle — located downtown along North Broadway — is set to host its grand opening this Friday, Nov. 23, from 4–9 p.m., and will be featuring events throughout Thanksgiving weekend.

Greeting guests within the first floor of the Castle, the newly launched Cameo restaurant will aim to pay tribute to everything that is Rochester — a global melting pot — while still maintaining an emphasis on comfort.

 The Ohly Family / Photo by Nicholas Molina

The Ohly Family / Photo by Nicholas Molina

The restaurant, decorated in chic and industrial undertones, welcomes guests into its spacious 150-person seating area. Lining the entrance, the antique tin decorations of a former bakery are etched against the locally-crafted walnut and red elm tables. Hanging from above the candelabra-style light fixtures of the former Doggery give off a warm sense of comfort. Within the center of the space, a ‘chef’s table’ unites the entirety of the restaurant.

Cameo Restaurant, the passion project between local husband and wife duo, Zach and Danika Ohly, will bring the culmination of more than 30 years of combined dining experience to the concept. The menu will feature locally-sourced ingredients, while still aiming to capture the flavors of the world — with globally-inspired dishes, such as Mexican street corn croquettes, Korean BBQ short ribs, tandoori spiced salmon and Wagyu top sirloin.

For Zach Ohly, who will serve as executive chef, the restaurant fits within the goal of the rest of the Castle Community. “We believe in the power of food,” he told me. “It’s an art form to us and it’s our passion, and we want to show our clientele that in a relaxed, yet still elevated environment.”

The second floor of the Castle will feature several artist studios, along with independent storefronts, such as the Collective bookstore, Queen City coffeehouse, a vinyl records shop, an art store, and a traditional photography darkroom. Housed within the commons there will also be games such as shuffleboard and foosball. “The design ensures the public and the artists intersect,” said Naura Anderson, one of the owners of Castle Community.

On the top floor of the Castle, with a capacity of more than 450 people, the 4,500 square-foot performance space, will allow bands of all types to perform in Rochester. For the upcoming weekend, the space will be reserved for the Minnesota group, Six Mile Grove.

Alongside the performance space, the top floor will also contain an art gallery and community room that will further showcase the arts of Rochester. “The focus is community; it’s named ‘Castle Community’ for a reason,” said Kiefer Manning, general manager of Cameo. “It’s to celebrate local arts, to give Rochester a place that they can experience their identity, and then also for our traveling guests — a place they can visit.”

Nicholas Molina is a freelance writer, traveler and food junkie currently residing in Rochester.

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